HackerNews Readings
40,000 HackerNews book recommendations identified using NLP and deep learning

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Designing Data-Intensive Applications: The Big Ideas Behind Reliable, Scalable, and Maintainable Systems

Martin Kleppmann

4.8 on Amazon

241 HN comments

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

Jared Diamond Ph.D.

4.5 on Amazon

239 HN comments

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Cal Newport

4.6 on Amazon

239 HN comments

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

Robert C. Martin

4.7 on Amazon

232 HN comments

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

David Allen and Simon & Schuster Audio

4.5 on Amazon

231 HN comments

The Three-Body Problem

Cixin Liu, Luke Daniels, et al.

4.3 on Amazon

225 HN comments


William Gibson, Robertson Dean, et al.

4.4 on Amazon

218 HN comments

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Hardcover Journal and Elder Wand Pen Set

Insight Editions

4.8 on Amazon

212 HN comments

Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software

Erich Gamma , Richard Helm , et al.

4.7 on Amazon

208 HN comments

How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading

Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren

4.5 on Amazon

193 HN comments

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Yuval Noah Harari, Derek Perkins, et al.

4.6 on Amazon

191 HN comments

The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel (Revised Edition)

Benjamin Graham , Jason Zweig , et al.

4.7 on Amazon

188 HN comments

Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software

Charles Petzold

4.6 on Amazon

186 HN comments

Seveneves: A Novel

Neal Stephenson, Mary Robinette Kowal, et al.

4.1 on Amazon

184 HN comments

Cracking the Coding Interview: 189 Programming Questions and Solutions

Gayle Laakmann McDowell

4.7 on Amazon

180 HN comments

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Sorted by relevance

TheAdamAndCheonMar 24, 2021

Seveneves was spectacular, by far one of my all-time favorite books. To each their own, I suppose.

dejawuonJune 14, 2021

If you liked Seveneves you'll probably also enjoy the Three Body Problem trilogy!

samatmanonJune 11, 2018

Pick up Anathem before trying Seveneves. Anathem might be his strongest novel, and it's the only one that holds up to Snow Crash and Diamond Age in my estimation.

I adore Zodiac as well but am in a decided minority in that regard.

odammitonSep 21, 2017

If you don’t get the reference and you like scifi Seveneves is awesome. It’s not hard scifi.

I managed to finish it in two days. Super entertaining.

Anywho, this visualization is cool to see after reading the book.

paul_fonOct 1, 2020

Neal Stephenson's Seveneves is a great read kinda along these lines.

ccakesonAug 4, 2021

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson is a great one

edwastoneonOct 22, 2016

Seveneves is a great novel that explore this idea:


MtinieonFeb 4, 2017

Seveneves was the book that reminded me why I really enjoyed Stephenson's writing.

atldevonSep 8, 2015

For some entertaining sci-fi applications of this sort of tech, you should check out Seveneves by Neal Stephenson.

ian-gonMay 15, 2020

In case you haven't read anything else, and for other people here, yes his books are projects.

I really liked Seveneves though. And The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. has been good so far!

EdwardCoffinonJune 19, 2015

I just finished reading Seveneves (his latest book, which this interview is mostly about), and quite liked it. It is quite depressing though.

roryisokonSep 3, 2018

Seveneves is a great read!

acherononJan 6, 2016

Different strokes I guess. I thought REAMDE was rather dull but Seveneves was a nice bounceback.

FWIW my favorite Stephenson novel is still Anathem.

saadrizvionMay 18, 2016

I enjoyed Seveneves but thought it wasn't Stephenson's best work by far.

I'd rate Anathem and Snow Crash much higher than it.

globalgoatonDec 22, 2016

favourites by category:
- fitness:
Becoming a supple leopard
- fiction:
- non fiction:
Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently

loegonSep 22, 2017

I also disliked REAMDE and am struggling to get into D.O.D.O. Cryptonomicon, Diamond Age, and Seveneves were great. Have't read Anathem.

RUG3YonSep 22, 2017

The characters in Seveneves feel like an afterthought that Stephenson needed to fill out a book about a cool idea he had. I personally found it uninteresting.

Cryptonomicon is my favorite work of his.

jordonwiionDec 24, 2016

Another "hard sci-fi" suggestion: Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. Goes into a lot of detail about some potentially interesting things (moon science and orbital mechanics come to mind), if you enjoy that. I learned that I don't, but still really enjoyed it for the great story.

foobarbecueonSep 5, 2020

I enjoyed cryptonomicon but get where you're coming from! I think his books would be way better with aggressive editing. Seveneves was great but so many long lame sections should have been removed.

grimmanonJune 19, 2015

Yeah, I read Seveneves, then The Martian and many things felt very familiar. I have to say, however, I was very annoyed with the style of The Martian.

pklausleronSep 21, 2017

Stephenson is my absolute favorite living author (RIP, DFW) when he's good (Anathem, Cryptonomicon, Snow Crash), but appallingly bad when he's bad (The Rise and Fall of DODO, REAMDE). You can safely give Seveneves a miss, and should go read the really good stuff first in any case.

HaydukeLivesonMay 12, 2020

Anathem is definitely my favorite Stephenson book. I've read all of his books except for his newest book, and I have yet to finish Seveneves - I didn't want it to end, so I put it down.

davidwonMar 24, 2021

Is that still true? Honest question.

Cryptonomicon did such a wonderful job of capturing a certain something from the 1990ies. I haven't enjoyed his more recent books as much. Seveneves was depressing. Dodge had really bad reviews and I haven't bothered with it.

DavertrononJuly 20, 2018

Cryptonomicon is one of my favorite books of all time (I'm probably due for a re-read at this point).

I would also recommend "Seveneves", one of Neal Stephenson's most recent books. "Anathem" was also very enjoyable.

cl42onJan 24, 2016

The way these are described in Seveneves is awesome. I didn't realize there's so much theory behind it!

reubenswartzonSep 21, 2017

I love Stephenson as a storyteller, but hate him as a writer, if that makes any sense.

There were parts of Seveneves that I thought were spectacular, and a lot that I thought was silly, and most of which I hated reading. ;-)

2sk21onJune 16, 2018

My first thought was of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson - not perhaps his best book but it did clarify the value of mining near Earth objects :-)

blocked_againonSep 21, 2017

Am I the only one who gave up reading Seveneves because of pages and pages of complicated orbital mechanics?

loegonSep 21, 2017

They're pretty different. By the way, the connection to Seveneves is kind of a spoiler for the first two books of Broken Earth.

JoachimSonJuly 8, 2015

The opinion about Seveneves varies quite a lot. I found it to be really bad and a great disappointment, and I am a huge Stephenson fan. Anathem being one of the best reads of my life. Seveneves is far from being a new Anathem.

avianonJune 21, 2019

To be honest, I found it long and depressing. It must be something about this theme of the demise of society and space exploration that gets me. Same with Baxter's NASA trilogy. His early novels, like Snowcrash and Diamond age, are amazing, but Seveneves is really quite a different kind of a story.

jfe1234onSep 10, 2019

Seveneves is great as are Snow Crash and Anathem by the same author. Anathem has a lovely epic feel. Tough read though!

ruskonApr 23, 2019

Is it though? My reading of Brave New World was that it was at least consensual. I’m after reading Seveneves and I see some parrallels between these societies. In context it really doesnt seem so much sinister as a way for humanity to survive. 1984 was despotic.

taywrobelonDec 8, 2020

Anathem is great, but I'd call it the "hard mode" of Neal Stephenson's work. If anyone is wanting some easier to follow books by him to get started with, I highly recommend Seveneves (personal favorite) or Snow Crash (modern classic).

dima586onJuly 13, 2018

Sci-fi: Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. I found it fantastic though the end goes a little bit too fast and with too little detail as compared to the beginning.

gkfasdfasdfonSep 18, 2020

FYI This concept is employed extensively in the excellent novel Seveneves. The author Neal Stephenson worked at Blue Origin for a time.

aaronbrethorstonJune 11, 2018

The first 2/3s of Seveneves were pretty good. I think you can reasonably skip the last 1/3 of the novel. Anathem is definitely his best written work. Don't bother with REAMDE.

zimpenfishonSep 21, 2017

> The good news: Stephenson has learned how to write a good 600-page book. The bad news: Seveneves is 900 pages long.


ISLonOct 9, 2020

I didn't follow up with the entire novel, but the opening chapter to Seveneves had some of the energy of Snowcrash.

hackeraccountonOct 8, 2017

David Brin's Uplift Trilogy. Also, Not really an amazing book but Seveneves by Neal Stephenson was pretty technical.

DowwieonMar 30, 2020

Seveneves until the fast forward was engaging but I stopped reading shortly after.

pmontraonJan 14, 2021

The second part of Neal Stephenson's Seveneves is filled with megastructures in space. I wish he made some videos to explain them better than with words.


iKenshuonDec 24, 2016

I read 'Ready player one' and I really enjoy it.

Right now I am reading 'Seveneves' recommendend by Bill Gates.

psergeantonMar 15, 2018

You might enjoy reading Seveneves

ansgrionJuly 16, 2015

Wow this looks oddly familiar having read Seveneves by Neal Stephenson recently. Quite a bit of non-fiction there.

Rooster61onNov 15, 2018

I'm afraid I haven't heard of Seveneves before today, although it does look like an interesting read.

My concern is just from a general interest in spaceflight. More of a wish to protect a resource rather than a Chicken Little fear of the sky literally falling out.

shpongledonJune 14, 2021

I'd recommend some of Stephenson's earlier works: Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, Reamde, Anathem are all great. I actually think Seveneves is one of his weakest books.

rfeBZiMHonSep 26, 2019

You should read Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. The plot of that book follows the events after a primordial black hole streaks through the Moon, causing it to implode. It's packed with detail, but interesting for anyone interested in space and engineering.

jobigoudonJan 5, 2019

"Seveneves" by Neal Stephenson was a great read. (The last third is almost a different book and can be skipped imho). You mentioned you liked The Martian so I think you'll like this one.

gandalfianonJan 17, 2021

Seems to fit with Seveneves novel quite well. Seven woman escaping into space. Wonder if deliberate?

the_bigfatpandaonJune 14, 2021

I have just started reading Seveneves, really enjoying it so far.

This is my first (proper) science fiction book. I have been told that Foundation series is a must read. Any recommendations will be appreciated!!

thatcherconApr 24, 2018

I don't think I really grasp what 5000 years means either, and to which populations? I liked Seveneves because I'm a big fan of stories set in space, but I'm interested in hearing your take on it if you feel like writing more.

shpongledonJune 14, 2021

I haven't read Fall, because one of my buds told me it was even worse than Seveneves :/

airstrikeonJuly 24, 2018

I read it when I was far too young to have done so, but thoroughly enjoyed it. After seeing it mentioned twice on this thread and Seveneves mentioned on /. yesterday, I'm more than inclined to reread the former or pick up the latter this Summer.

ctvoonMay 18, 2016

I enjoyed Seveneves. I'd recommend Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald as another recent moon-based book that's enjoyable sci-if. Mega corporations rule the moon and the government largely ignores what they do as long as raw materials are still delivered to Earth.

aaronbrethorstonOct 1, 2015

Seveneves is a bit more similar to what the article describes. http://www.amazon.com/Seveneves-Novel-Neal-Stephenson/dp/006...

nuccyonJuly 24, 2020

A bit off-topic, but whoever is interested in such during- and post-apocalyptic scenarios from sci-fi point of view may want to check the Seveneves book by Neal Stephenson [1]. One of my personal favourites.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seveneves

newman8ronDec 25, 2020

hah I remember reading that as a youth (must have been 20+ years ago) but I can't find the title either. More recently I read Seveneves and it's also got some ham radio worked into the narrative.

pdwetzonMay 8, 2016

The novel Seveneves brings a similar (actually, far worse) event in a modern environment. Both a fun and nightmarish thought exercise.

jtmsonJune 21, 2019

Seveneves has been in my reading queue for quite awhile... I think I might go ahead and move it to the top of the stack. Thanks for posting this!

jgononFeb 1, 2021

Of those 3 I was only somewhat happy with Anathem. I couldn't finish REAMDE and Seveneves convinced me that I may not read another one of his books again, unless it debuts to unanimous critical acclaim or something similar. I thought the ending of Cryptonomicon was pretty weak but the rest of the novel leading up to it was so fantastic that I didn't care. Honestly I found the Baroque Cycle to have the best ending of any of his works, and I would describe it as the one time I was happy with both the journey and the destination of a Stephenson novel.

mcrideronMay 26, 2018

Seveneves and the Dark Forest series are literally the last two (sets of) books I read and they are so wonderful. The last book in the Dark Forest series in particular has some of the most mind-blowing concepts I've encountered in SciFi.

robterrellonSep 21, 2017

Wow, this is perfectly timed for me. I just read Seveneves last week. Interesting that this simulation results in a "white sky" event half a year after the moon explodes -- in the book this takes a few years.

nvarsjonMar 9, 2018

I would suggest checking out Dan Simmons. He's like Neal in many ways (lots of world building, interesting scifi), but I think a better writer and story teller. I picked up Hyperion based on a review of Seveneves, which suggested the third part was a pale imitation. It and Ilium are amazing.

madaxe_againonSep 21, 2017

You should definitely read the book, however. Hell, his entire corpus is one “whoa” after another.

Still, Seveneves < Anathem, in my jumped up not so humble opinion!

teamhappyonApr 25, 2018

A couple of days ago I've decided to not finish Seveneves after having been disappointed by REAMDE already. Are there any recent book releases anyone can recommend to people who love Cryptonomicon, Anathem and Snow Crash but aren't really into REAMDE and Seveneves?

truscheonJan 6, 2016

They can hardly get worse. I used to be a huge fan of NS, but Seveneves was the last book of his I bought without reading review first. He seems to have decided that character development is for other people, not to mention the gaping plot holes. Sloppy and superficial.

EdwardCoffinonJune 19, 2015

It's a very divisive book, people seem to love it or hate it. I'm a long time Stephenson fan, have read everything he wrote multiple times (excepting Seveneves for the moment), and Anathem is my most favourite of his works.

ChicagoDaveonMay 18, 2016

I started reading Seveneves about 4 days ago. Been sitting on my nightstand for months. It's dry, but scary/sad as fuck.

mathewsandersonApr 14, 2015

I've read Anathem 4 times (just finished 4th read a couple weeks ago actually) and I find it satisfying with every single read. Funny thing is that I struggle with all his other books I've tried reading.

I've intentionally not read this teaser, but from he blurb I feel like I'm going to like Seveneves

haldeanonAug 10, 2016

I thought Seveneves was more like two "first half of Stephenson novels" smushed together; I found myself wishing there was more exploration of the "second" world. I thought the cultural evolution stuff was super interesting.

eggyonFeb 3, 2020

Reading Seveneves by Neal Stephenson may have inspired this thought, but how much change in the Moon's mass by shipping materials to Mars or Earth from the Moon would cause enough change in the Moon's orbit to affect Earth's tidal cycles, and other dependent phenomenon?

r3blonDec 20, 2015

I've seen Seveneves appearing across multiple lists of best books in 2015 (here, Amazon's top 20, Goodreads' list for 2015...).

I can't wait to grab my hands on it!

PfhreakonAug 10, 2016

Cast in another light, it was standard Stephenson fare -- the first half of the book explores a topic deeply and interestingly, then the second half basically sets it aside to trail off into some weird no-man's land. Seveneves was particularly obvious version of this issue.

mathewsandersonJuly 27, 2018

Everyone’s probably read it by now, but second part of Seveneves there’s a lot of great non-rocket systems for getting stuff into space (like skyhook also mentioned in Wikipedia article) there’s one part of the story where a bolo-type setup is used for an emergency extraction from earth which still makes me gasp in amazement to think about :)

In conclusion: if you liked the launch loop idea but haven’t read Seveneves then go buy/download it right now!

eric_honNov 30, 2015

I'm reading Neal Stephenson's Seveneves at the moment - it explores (in a sci-fi way, of course) what it would take to simulate 1g in orbit (with the rough equivalent of current space hardware).

AvshalomonApr 24, 2018

Seveneves was deeply traumatizing to me; I don't think Stephenson really grasps what 5000 years means to some isolated populations.

I don't think I'm ever going to re-read it.

jsolsononMay 15, 2020

Interesting. I've loved most of Stephenson's books and Cryptonomicon easily holds the title of most re-read book in my collection.

Seveneves, on the other hand, I absolutely loathed in basically every regard. My loathing for it makes it memorable enough to be my most hated book (there are plenty of books out there that are 'worse', but are also unmemorable -- Seveneves is viscerally memorable)

conceptiononDec 13, 2020

Apropro of nothing but started to read Seveneves for the first time this year and had to tap out - decidedly a poor book to read for escapism from being trapped inside while the world burns and people die around you.

cromulentonMar 30, 2016

Probably not what you had in mind, but I found Neal Stephenson's novel Seveneves to be very thought provoking on the subject. I had never thought of inflatables before I read that.

shagieonJune 22, 2020

While there is no life on the surface, when we get to the "colonize the moon", the fallout becomes a problem.

Consider the problem that the astronauts had when on the moon and the "prevent dust from getting in the lander". Not only do you have the worry of sharp, pointy dust now - but also radioactive dust.

While it isn't a science book... Seveneves has to deal with the problem of nuclear trust and dust and does so in a realistic way. Its a good book to read/listen to (if you acknowledge/expect the "Stephenson where did the ending go?!" problem)

craftinatoronNov 25, 2020

Reminds me of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. In a future setting, they use long whip like objects to fling objects around in space, with a flywheel to drive them.

tio00onFeb 4, 2017

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seveneves

One of the few books, that when I'm finished, I just want to turn it over a start again.

Covers a wide range of important and relevant topics in technology, biology/genetics, ethics. My only problem is it is too short! Could easily have been a triology like the Baroque Cycle (another favorite) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Baroque_Cycle

RandallBrownonSep 26, 2019

Not really the same scenario, but Neal Stephenson's Seveneves is a fictional account of what might happen if the moon suddenly exploded.

searineonJan 4, 2016

Oh boy, you fucked up now. Here are the books I read this past year that I felt were "Good", starting from the most recent :

To Kill A Mocking Bird (Insanely good)

True Grit (Insanely good)

The Little Friend (Good)

Priceless (Very good, about art theft)

The Secret History (Insanely good)

Ready Player One (Good, nerdy)

Shadow Divers (Very good, history nerd book)

Diary of Anne Frank (Very good)

Unbroken (Very good, way better than the movie)

With The Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa (Very good)

Seveneves (good, but I'm a Stephenson fanboy)

The Martian (Very good, but just watch the movie).

I read a bunch of other stuff, but that's what I found really "good" this past year.

paultonFeb 22, 2019

One of the plot points in Neal Stephenson's Seveneves [minor spoiler alert] is an Elon Musk-type character that melts a nuclear reactor into an ice comet to make a thruster that uses the comet as fuel. I always thought that was really neat.

craftinatoronJan 7, 2021

If you've ever read Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, it's very similar to JBF's rhetorical style (scary similar). Big ideas, many ideas, full of contradictions, and fluidly swapping between possible interpretations to convince as many as possible, and demonizing anyone who figures out what your doing. It's nasty.

mmaunderonSep 22, 2017

Aw! I thought Seveneves was amazing and the orbital mechs made it even better. (Author sounded like it was tedious in the opener)

I absolutely LOVE it when a scifi author gets that stuff right and it's great working it through in your head as you absorb the story they're weaving. Really added something to the book. Very much like Arthur C. Clarke's work - stuff that would work that way in real life.

finnhonSep 21, 2017

It's funny how personal all of these preferences are. I, personally, thought that "Diamond Age" was tepid, and "Zodiac" pretty stupid (but an early work, so forgiveable), but I've pretty well loved everything else that Stephenson wrote by himself. On the shared-author side of things, the DODO book is terrible - dropped after about 2 pages - and the Mongoliad stuff looks tripe too.

Anathem and Seveneves are among my favorites. And I really liked the entire Baroque Cycle! (after consciously avoiding it for years).

mseebachonMay 29, 2018

Mildly interesting literary reference: In Seveneves by Neal Stephenson (light spoiler), in the orbital world, they never, after 5,000 years, get to refined microelectronics. It's not an important plot device, so I wonder how gamed out that idea is, but it's remarked by Kath that their computers are nowhere as refined as those they had before the hard rain.

sjclemmyonOct 5, 2015

Ha ha - I just read Seveneves, the Probst character was quite funny. While I've enjoyed Stephenson's novels in the past, I don't think Seveneves is his best. It's a little bit formulaic, far fetched and plodding. I preferred Reamde. It's the only thing I've ever read that gave me an insight into the mindset of the mid-west gun loving conservative that seems to maintain the status quo of gun law in the US.

renke1onJuly 23, 2021

* Seveneves (I haven't read much else from Neal Stephenson, but I've heard good things)

* Children of Time / Children of Ruin (both really good)

* Remembrance of Earth's Past (even the fan fiction one is good)

* A lot of stuff from Alastair Reynolds (House of Suns being my favorite)

* Classics like Tau Zero, The Forever War etc.

* A Deepness in the Sky / A Fire Upon the Deep

Although not all of these are strictly considered hard scifi, I guess.

Btw, I love it when somebody asks this question every now and then on HN. Lots of stuff for one's (ever growing) reading list.

e12eonMay 18, 2016

> the only other Stephenson book I've read so far is Cryptonomicon

Absolutely recommend "Diamond Age" and to a lesser extent (but more fun) "Snowcrash". I started "Cryptonomicon" right after reading Singh's "The Code Book", and it just felt like Stephenson did a sub-par job with the subject material (perhaps especially because "The Code Book" isn't fiction, but almost reads like it).

Did start "Seveneves" when there was a free teaser out, but haven't gotten around to it yet -- it's on my list. I'm hoping it's a bit tighter than most of the stuff since "Diamond Age".

the__alchemistonMar 25, 2021

My favorites are The Diamond Age and Anathem, but thoroughly enjoyed Seveneves and Dodge.

I almost dropped Dodge 1/4 of the way in due to it being to dull. I thought Stephenson had lost his edge. Stuck through it, and loved it! It tackles a collection of related issues that are relevant today, and I think will continue to become more so in the near future, especially for the HN crowd. Ie his concepts of a post-truth-future, cultures emerging and isolating using controlled access to information etc. Speculative neuroscience too, ie how the brain constructs a cohesive model of the world.

Dodge seems to be the most polarizing Stephenson book.

comicjkonSep 21, 2017

I agree - I recommend Seveneves to anyone, but I say stop as soon as Act 1 ends. I think Act 2 spoils the ending of Act 1 by undermining the high stakes that made it impactful.

I can tell Stephenson enjoyed writing Act 2 as an act of fun semi-hard sci-fi, but I think it should have been in its own setting, not tacked on to a dark hard sci-fi survival novel.

mlang23onOct 14, 2020

This somehow reminds me of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. Its not the same story of course, but I cant help but think of the book.

timonokoonSep 3, 2018

The mass of the pod is much less than the end-station of the space elevator. So the cable can be very thin at the far end. If the cable is tapering smoothly it weights 1/4, but it need not to do that, I think it tapers in some kind of exponential curve. So 1/16 might be quite reasonable assumption, but one needs recent college education to calculate that. On the other hand there are strong centrifugal forces, as the pod speeds up from standstill, which is also vividly described in Seveneves book.

stcredzeroonJan 3, 2019

If you read John Varley's Titan series or Neal Stephenson books like Seveneves they regularly call LaGrange points "L2", "L4", etc.

Never got around to Titan. I really liked Seveneves. I think Sonar Taxlaw is the most perfect woman, next to my wife. Nothing wrong with referring to L2, L4, L5...

I called it a lasso because, if you look at the diagram, it literally looks like a lasso.

Arrgh! That would be like when my grade school teacher called the LEM the "moonwalker" because it looked like it could walk around on the moon.

bkcooperonApr 13, 2015

The first couple pages of Seveneves certainly does not impress

Man, no kidding. It feels like a very inelegant info dump. While I realize those tend to show up in Stephenson books at some point or another, it's a rough way to start.

I liked a lot about Anathem but found Reamde unmemorable. I'd love to see a return to form.

tripzilchonSep 21, 2017

I loved Snow Crash (top 5 personal favourite book) and Cryptonomicon (I haven't read Seveneves yet), but I didn't like Anathem that much?


Especially the sort of quantum-ex-machina "twist" near the end was kind of off-putting to me. Everything so far was very well crafted and researched, but this part was a lot like "yeah multiple universes or something", but I'm not sure if it even works that way, if true.

Also I found the constant back-translating of scientific discoveries and theorems with-a-different-name kind of tedious. I caught a lot of them, but many also not and I kept feeling like I was missing out on some cool references. Even though (IMHO) I have a pretty broad general knowledge of most important scientific/math theorems.

There were some other bits I didn't like but that's personal taste. I loved the humour in Snow Crash (so much better reading than Neuromancer) and the hi-tech thriller action stuff in Cryptonomicon. Anathem seemed kind of slow, building a whole world and such (as I said, matter of taste, I don't get quite as excited about world-building in fiction/fantasy books, unlike many people).

btownonSep 21, 2017

Many of Stephenson's books, particularly Seveneves and Diamond Age, have amazing worldbuilding, but simply fall apart from a plot coherence perspective about 2/3 of the way through. We on this thread aren't the first to notice this: https://www.google.com/search?q="neal+stephenson"+ending

It's not easy: when you build "mysteries" into a well-built self-consistent world (and Stephenson's worlds are excellent in this regard), it becomes increasingly hard to reconcile them all. As soon as you allow yourself to explore emergent phenomena during a creative process, you run the risk of writing yourself into a corner. I tend to read most fiction with an approach of "imagine the stories you wish happened in this well-thought-out universe" rather than worrying too much about the way an author actually writes a plot.

chrisherdonDec 12, 2018

- The Prince (get's a bad press, thought provoking)

- Apex [Nexus 3] (prose is meh, inevitable life goes this way)

- Factfulness (Awesome, most important book I read this year)

- Prisoners of Geography (why nations act the way they do)

- Crux [Nexus 2] (prose is meh, inevitable life goes this way)

- Debt: the first 5000 years (slog to get through but interesting)

- Nexus [Nexus 1] (prose is meh, inevitable life goes this way)

- Digitocracy (super short story, super powerful message)

- Artemis (Not as good as the martian)

- Before Mars (Starts out great, fizzles out)

- Down and Out in Magic Kingdom (How reputation based social currency might pan out)

- Blood Sweat and Pixels (How games are really made)

- Masters of Doom (Awesome story of how the game was made and what it led to)

- Foundation [Foundation 1] (Prescient with where the world is, what might happen in reality)

- Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that can't... (Ok, not great, read it on blinkist)

- Ender's Game (Under rated, most fun I had reading this year, I know...)

- Neuromancer (classic, must read)

- Pre-suation (interesting and worth reading if starting a consumer facing business)

- The Three-Body Problem (Found it tedious, honestly. Interesting though)

- Radical Candour (A lot of common sense advice we take for granted and could do better with)

- Seveneves (Longggggg, but really worth it. Shame about the ending)

- The Virgin Banker (Really good read, how a bank came into being)

- Why information grows (Great read, could of been half the length, would recommend)

- Babylon Revisited (Meh)

- Money: the Unauthorised Biography (Simplistic history of money before and after coin. Good)

- Hellbent (Enjoyed it, good for a holiday read)

- Snow Crash (Classic, Awesome, read it)

- The little prince (must read)

- To Pixar and Beyond (A different viewpoint on Jobs)

the__alchemistonJuly 23, 2021

I agree, re The Three Body Problem. It's a fun story, but not hard sci-fi in the way Stephenson etc are. I also enjoyed the dive into mid-century communist China - it was a jarring, immersive journey into living-memory history I hadn't learned about before.

I think Diamond Age was my favorite overall Stephenson story in terms of both story and neat scifi concepts, but all of them were enjoyable. I agree on Seveneves chars all being forgettable. Dodge (The most recent one) had perhaps the dullest start, but I really liked the Dodge, Corvis, and Daisy characters.

ceequofonApr 13, 2015

It seems like my first knee-jerk impression of every Stephenson novel of the last decade has been "ugh, terrible", gradually replaced by a retrospective fondness after finishing it.

The first couple pages of Seveneves certainly does not impress, but maybe I'll like it better after reading the whole thing.

JemaclusonSep 14, 2015

Just recently finished "Seveneves" by Neal Stephenson. It's sci-fi, but fantastic.

For non-sci-fi, my favorite fantasy book I've read recently was "The Lies of Locke Lamora" (and its sequels) by Scott Lynch. Another is "Dirty Jobs" by Christopher Moore, a bit on the Pratchett-inspired side of things.

I also recently finished Felicia Day's memoir, "You're Never Weird on the Internet," which I highly recommend.

andyjohnson0onJuly 23, 2021

I wasn't aware that it was a meme. My comment was based on my own observations from reading a number of his books.

> Yes, the novel ends and it's obvious that the characters' lives keep going. Lots of authors do that. Real life often doesn't have endings or clear resolutions.

The characters lives do end with the end of the book (unless there's a sequel). You can certainly imagine how their lives might proceed, but a satisfactory ending doesn't preclude that either. Drawing together the elements of a story, completing the arcs, creating some kind of resolution: these are part of the storytellers craft.

With Seveneves I thought he just ran out of steam. It felt like leaving a film ten minutes before the end and stumbling out into the daylight. Pretty dissatisfying at the end of a long book.

peatmossonJune 11, 2018

I can’t second this enough. Snow Crash and Diamond Age were fun page-turners. I slogged through Cryptonomicon, but beyond that I haven’t been able to finish anything else.

I’ve heard good things about Seveneves, but I’m a little hesitant to pick it up given that it’s huge and there are thousands of other books to read.

spapas82onJuly 15, 2018

Here are a couple I like :

- Seveneves: A really great hard sci-fi. Very thought provoking ideas and excellent plot! Warning this is a heavy themed book. Also keep in mind that at about 3/4 in the novel there's a conclusion to the main story; the rest of the novel feels rushed and doesnt keep up; you won't miss anything if you just skip it.

- The Expanse series (starting with Leviathan wakes). A very good series. It has a light tone and mainly focuses on characters. Some books are better than the others. If you liked the 1st one then you wont regret reading the others. Not much philosofy of hard sci-fi ideas so probably near to your liking.

- Rendezvous with Rama: Probably my favorite Arthur Clarke novel. The plot may not be so interesting but the ideas presented make up for it.

- Red rising series: This is a great read, the plot feels something like a GoT of scifi; although the setting could also be considered a fantasy one. This is a plot intensive series but not many scifi philosophical ideas. Probably good for your linking.

- The three body problem trilogy: This is not so light-hearted; it is serious sci-fi presenting some excellent ideas that would blow your mind. Especially after I read the 2nd one (The Dark Forest) I kept it in my mind for a long time; thinking over the things presented there. This is sci-fi at its best.

intrasightonMay 8, 2016

I immediately thought of Seveneves as well. You know some time thousands of years in the future, the Earth's humaniods are going to ask how their ancestors survived the asteroid in our future.

qzwonApr 15, 2019

No, I haven't, but will definitely check it out. I did finally read Neal Stephenson's Seveneves before I started the Trisolaris Trilogy. I find them excellent at conveying the sense of vastness of space and time and how truly fragile human civilization is. In a way, this Notre Dame tragedy calls up the some of the same helpless (but not hopeless) feeling as reading about the existential dangers faced by humanity in these books.

munk-aonDec 16, 2019

I'm looking forward to it being a critical success and then to watch them search for other works by the author to videoize and either grab Cryptonomicon or, even better, the Baroque Cycle...

Actually, Seveneves would be a kind of amazing long running serial if they just ran a chunk of anthologies during the portion of history the book skips between stabilizing the asteroid and recolonizing earth.

lglonMay 13, 2021

Great recommendations here. One pet peeve I have is that the term science fiction is used a lot in these types of discussions when the more accurate term in my opinion would be speculative fiction, sometimes with some real world science bits thrown in for either convenience or broader appeal.

Particularly in regards to Greg Egan since his books are really out there. I personally recommend Permutation City and Diaspora which I found both amazing (although most of his books are also very good). Seveneves is still on my to-read list, from a lot of reviews I got the impression that the first part of the book is very good while the second part goes a bit downhill. I'll still probably read it someday.

Another recommendation that's a bit more mainstream is the Expanse series which seems to really try to portray some of the real effects of space flight and gravity effects while, again, also throwing some more "out-there and not so realistic" stuff into the mix.

DowwieonDec 22, 2016

2 Highlights:

- "Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison

- "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

These are beautifully written books-- true art. I read intellectually stimulating, non-fiction material every moment of my life. Fiction counterbalances that frenzied information consumption.

I also read 2/3 of SevenEves by Neal Stephenson. Although the first 2/3 were good, I can't recommend the book due to the last 1/3. Those who read the book will know what I'm talking about.

jackconnoronJan 3, 2019

If you read John Varley's Titan series or Neal Stephenson books like Seveneves they regularly call LaGrange points "L2", "L4", etc. I called it a lasso because, if you look at the diagram, it literally looks like a lasso.

jillesvangurponJuly 14, 2020

Neal Stephenson's Seveneves has a part (part 3) of the book that is set in the distant future. One plot point there is some kind of advanced glider basically exploiting the atmosphere to pick up enough energy over the course of a day to eventually get enough mass (by picking up water) and energy to eventually travel at high speeds & altitudes half way across the planet. Science fiction of course but he has a way of making this somewhat plausible.

Gliders sometimes use water ballast to store more energy so they can stay up longer. Basically after getting towed to an initial altitude they use thermals and ridge soaring to gain altitude. After that it's all about converting altitude to speed and distance based on their glide ratio. Having a high mass apparently helps. Hopping from one lift producing area to another, you can cover great distances.

Currently this is pretty much a recreational activity because you are dependent on weather, sunlight, and other things that are hard to predict and detect. But kind of intriguing notion what you could do if you had a way to reliably find areas with good lift.

On a related note, here's a youtube channel of a glider pilot in Kansas that regularly posts awesome footage from his glider. Here's some awesome footage of him exploring some mountains and exploiting available lift from winds hitting the rocks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bcd5Z46RGRU

davidwonMay 18, 2016

> The first third of Seveneves is a real gut punch.

I found the first two thirds of it to be pretty depressing to the point where I didn't really enjoy the whole book that much. I wish he'd just kind of jumped right into the "future world" bit and made some references to what had taken place when the moon blew up.

wrsonFeb 2, 2021

Seveneves was frustrating because he spent hundreds of pages setting up a premise worthy of an entire lifetime’s worth of books and then just...stopped. Any other author would write that book and be set for life. Neal Stephenson has no time for that and just moves on to the next pile of ideas in his notebook.

SymmetryonJune 19, 2015

Not really, and the scenario has some other problems too[1]. But all sorts of books have fantastic premises, just look at Lord of the Rings! I can accept an awful lot of improbability in a book's setup as long as the plot given that premise makes enough sense. In Seveneves it did so I was happy.


herbsteinonMay 13, 2021

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson is a good starting point. Written by an author that knows how to write pop-thrillers with a very keen attention to the details in his books. It deals with the aftermath of the moon spontaneously breaking apart. No explanation is ever given to the reason. The first line of the book is:

> The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason.

If you're looking for something even harder there's one author to stands out. Greg Egan. Most of his books are created by modifying some part of relativity and seeing what kind of world would be the logical conclusion from that modification. From the blurb for his book "Orthogonal".

> In Yalda’s universe, light has no universal speed and its creation generates energy.

> On Yalda’s world, plants make food by emitting their own light into the dark night sky.

Every one of his books are this weird, and he has books worth of education material and graphics to help explain the mechanics of each universe he creates. He has also done some novel discoveries when it comes to superpermutations.

If you don't want to go quite that deep into it all, you could take a look at "The Martian". The movie is a fine piece of work, but the book is really amazing. It goes into a lot more details. Andy Weir, the author, even made sure the phases of Earth and Mars matched up so closely that you can figure out when the book is happening by inferring the travel times and communication delays.

Generally, you won't find much of this genre. Writing space opera (Star Trek, Star Wars, etc.) doesn't require too much. You have to have good characters exploring an interesting scenario, and then write it competently. Proper hard Sci-Fi on the other hand is incredibly difficult. It requires intimate knowledge of things like orbital physics and being able to infer what is and isn't possible within the next ~20 years. This is where most hard Sci-Fi is set because it grounds it the most. An analogous issue is that hard Sci-Fi often "expires". Stories written 30 years ago suddenly start sounding silly because technology developed in a new and at-the-time unexpected direction.

bawolffonJune 14, 2021

> Foundation series is a must read

I love the foundation series, but it was written in a very different time. Don't expect well developed characters.

I haven't read Seveneves, but other stephenson novels tend to be him nerding out on some really big idea. If you like that sort of thing (and are ok with the author really going into the tech side of the idea) greg egan is really good.

Science fiction is a pretty broad field, with lots of different types of books that concentrate on different things, so its going to vary depending on what you like. At the same time, without more to go on, this thread will probably just be a list of every famous sci-fi novel ever (if that's what you're looking for, may i suggest picking some novels at random off the nebula award winners list? There are some exceptions, but most are quite good and its a little bit of everything)

hideoonApr 24, 2018

Yeah, I was/am a huge fan of his books. Anathem is just an incredible work of art and deserves every bit of recognition it got if not more.

But REAMDE and Seveneves were just terribly disappointing and a huge letdown to me. They both seemed shallow and flat compared to the depth of story in his other books.

I don't think I can think of any other author whose books I both adore and loathe.

ef4onMay 18, 2016

The first third of Seveneves is a real gut punch. The only other world-ending story that comes close in terms of emotional impact for me was Arthur C. Clarke's "Childhood's End".

Stephenson manages to show humanity in all its realistic messiness but still leave you proud -- on balance -- that humans mostly get our act together in a desperate attempt to preserve a seed of life and culture.

agfonMay 18, 2016

I found Childhood's End an extremely unpleasant read, and so that comparison makes it hard for me to even think about reading Seveneves. It was just so depressing, taking the concept of isolation to such an extreme it felt abusive. Or maybe I shouldn't have read it while isolated myself (literally living and working in the middle of nowhere without transportation and minimal contact with anyone I was close to).

Maybe if I'd read Seveneves without ever having heard this comparison, I would have made it through to the part that makes you proud, but at this point I doubt that's possible.

Going to skip this one, and I'd suggest everyone else skip Childhood's End.

throw1234651234onJuly 23, 2021

Neal Stephenson's earlier work has "more soul" - Snow Crash / Diamond Age actually has characters you care about and like, his later novels get increasingly more abstract, though even better in the technical sense. I think the only character I remember from Seveneves is the cannibal leader, that's it.

"A Deepness in the Sky" was REALLY good. The Forever War was good for the concept.

In short, yours looks like a great list I will come back to, thank you.

However, I do strongly dislike Remembrance of Earth's Past / The Three Body Problem - it's vastly overrated in my opinion and the characters make no sense. The best part of it was the intro to the first book which gave an interesting glimpse at history.

yetanotheracconDec 24, 2015

Absolutely amazing, changed the way I look at the society, will re-read:

- George Orwell, Keep the Aspidistra Flying


- Alastair Reynolds, House of Suns

- Andy Weir, The Martian

- Neal Stephenson, Seveneves

- Greg Egan, Teranesia


- Arthur C. Clarke, 3001: The Final Odyssey

- Arthur C. Clarke, 2061: Odyssey Three

- Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Laws

- Richard Feynman, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

- Jonathan Slack, Stem Cells: A Very Short Introduction

- John Scalzi, Fuzzy Nation (bought the audiobook for Wil Wheaton's narration)

- Ray Monk, Robert Oppenheimer: A Life Inside the Center

- Alastair Reynolds, Revelation Space

- David C. Cassidy, Beyond Uncertainty: Heisenberg, Quantum Physics, and the Bomb

Found full of BS, did not finish:

- Noam Chomsky, Understanding Power


- order of 10^3 pages of Open University textbooks

- Klauber, Student Friendly Quantum Field Theory

- Feynman & Hibbs, Quantum Mechanics and Path Integrals

- Wald, General Relativity (5 chapters)

- Peskin & Schroeder, An Introduction to Quantum Field Theory (5 chapters)

Not as bad as I felt before making the list, but underwhelming in terms of quantity. I intend to read a whole lot more in 2016.

TinkersWonJuly 8, 2020

I read the Broken Earth trilogy a few years ago-- didn't remember it had won the Hugo award for all 3 books, and don't really understand why it would have won, unless that was a particularly weak couple of year?

It is a moderately decent fantasy series, but the writing is kind of clunky.

Looking at the 2017 Hugo, I'd say Cixian Liu's "Death's End" was a much better novel than "The Obelisk Gate", and would have given it to that book.

For the 2016 Hugo I've read 3 of the finalist("Fifth Season", "Ancillary Mercy", "Seveneves"), but I don't think
any of them were all that great... guess just a weak year.

ArubisonDec 22, 2016

Necessarily an incomplete list, because I haven't kept close track. 2016 was busy and much of what I read was programming language related, which I will exclude here.

In no particular order...

Cixin Liu -- The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest. Good read, as you'll see on everyone else's list.

Neal Stephenson -- Seveneves. Really good but arguably his weakest in some time; I wish the first three-quarters of the book were shorter and the final quarter a book in and of itself.

Cal Newport -- So Good They Can't Ignore You. I found this longer than necessary but an excellent kick in the pants.

Marcus Aurelius -- Meditations. Feels like a good "life reference" rather than a straight-through read.

Roald Dahl -- Boy, Going Solo. These were fun when I first went through them years ago, and they still _are_ fun, but the lens through which I view live has become one increasingly allergic to entitlement, and boy, if you want entitlement, look to the Brits at the end of the imperialist era.

Ed Catmull -- Creativity, Inc. Read this for work. Enjoyable but ehh.

Peter Tompkins -- The Secret Life of Plants (unfinished). I tried but couldn't get past the rampant bad science.

Steve Martin -- Born Standing Up. This was a fun profile of a comic that I appreciate; if you're already a fan it's worthwhile, otherwise skip it.

Derek Sivers -- Anything You Want. You can blow through this in a day and you should.

Worth highlighting, my most influential read this year:

Tara Brach -- Radical Acceptance. I loved this. No: I _needed_ this. Rather than the many philosophy-influenced books you'll find in this thread that are really business books with new buzzwords, this is just about loving yourself and building on that to live life fully. This will not (at least directly) help you build a startup. This will (directly) help you build important relationships.

cableshaftonJan 6, 2016

This is a bit offtopic, but his latest book is 'Seveneves', huh? I worked on a puzzle game for the DS and Wii called 'Neves', which was named that way because there was a 'puzzle in the name', being seven backwards, and there was seven pieces in each puzzle.

I feel like I should probably read Seveneves now, even though I know it's just a coincidence they're named similarly.

photogrammetryonNov 14, 2016

The book Seveneves may give you some hints, but take them with a few grains of salt.

fiftyfiftyonFeb 6, 2021

I've always thought something like the Skyhook described in Seveneves by Neal Stephenson would be perfect for lifting things off of high gravity worlds where the rocket equation is a deal breaker, provided you were starting in orbit or outside of the gravity well:


Maybe the materials science would still be a deal breaker, but in theory it would be easier to build than a space elevator.

me_me_meonJune 14, 2021

I dunno what happened with Seveneves but its one of few books I decided not to finish. There are some books you get bored with or forget to finish, but this one made me drop it.

I have stopped reading Seveneves at the end of second act/part.

It has very interesting premises and nice world building. Stephenson throws all the right ingredients into a pot for an amazing story. Mass social pressures, countries at bring of wars but forced to work together, though choices to be made and there are not enough resources to save everyone...

...but the plots and characters are so poorly written that it actively took me out of the experience.

Most of the characters in the book are just 1 dimensional flags - driven by a singular purpose. They make such poor emotional decisions that the survival of the species depends on. And its not a random survivor 1803, its the leadership of the remaining humanity. Its almost comical when we get detail descriptions of the tech, and the space-station inner-workings, but the social fabric of it is paper thin and bland.

But the last nail in the coffin was the end of part two: the decision on the future of humanity decided via blackmail - do it my way or I'll blow us all up - what?!

If there was a handful of us and one person blackmail everyone to do something stupid ('because I want it this way - no debate, no pros and cons), I would agree to their demands and after they let go of the trigger I would bash their head in. The whole ethics goes out of the window when one crazy person can doom whole humanity concentrated in one place...

This could have been a great book, ends up being meh.

4/10 great setting, terrible plot

jsolsononSep 22, 2017

With you on this one -- I've got all of his major works in first editions -- Seveneves is the only one I actively disliked. It's probably the only one I'll never read again. Beyond being intensely depressing (near future enough that everyone you know and love dies on the page... horribly), the plot felt about as strongly held together as an average episode of network television, and the characters managed to be both boring and unlikable.

andyjohnson0onJune 29, 2017

Having read summaries of the books, I thought the complexity of the overall storyline was excessive for what is a fairly straightforward take on the Fermi paradox and game theory [1]. Maybe I'm being unfair, but having slogged through Seveneves a few months ago I'm kind of grumpy and lacking patience with long, complicated SF epics right now.

(Possible mild spoiler ahead)

[1] Basically: "the forest is full of hunters of unknown strength, so either stay quiet or kill all the hunters." I thought that Greg Bear's Forge of God and Anvil of Stars did a much better job on this aspect of Fermi.

ian0onDec 12, 2018

I was introduced to sci-fi last year and pretty much stuck to it throughout 2018. Perhaps the usual suspects given the crowd here but in any case below are my highlights.

Completely blew me away:

- Anathem by Neal Stephenson

- Accelerando by Charles Stross

- Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy by Liu Cixin

Great Reads:

- Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

- Glasshouse, Neptunes Brood & Saturns Children by Charles Stross

- Rendezvous with Rama by Isaac Asimov

- Hyperion by Dan Simmons

- A Deepness in the Sky by Verner Vinge

The two categories are pretty subjective, due to personal taste but also the fact that all of the concepts in the more recent books were new to me (whereas they may be quite familiar to those who had read earlier authors work). All are awesome.

thedoopsonOct 8, 2017

Most of the other books I'd recommend in this area are mentioned already, but I'll add Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson. The primary narrative is from the pov of a generation ship's A.I.. You get to see it learn over time and with it it's vocabulary. Since it's a ship it gives KSR the opportunity to do some very fun info-dumps on the situation.

Probably one of the most thought provoking pieces of scifi I've read.

I'll also recommend Accelerondo, and Seveneves.

Negative1onSep 21, 2017

As a huge fan of Neal Stephenson I found Seveneves to be one of his worst books. Cryptonomicon, Diamond Age, Snow Crash; some of my favorite books so the length of the book has nothing to do with it. The characters were flat, unbelievable and unlikable. The dialogue was weak and awkward. The scenario felt contrived and uninspired (the moon blew up, earth had to evacuate; yep, Cowboy Bebop already set a high bar for this story).

I listened to this one in the car (10+ hours for books a week thanks to my drive). Maybe it was a rough week but I had to stop halfway through because it completely lost me. Maybe it gets better but having read the spoilers I really can't imagine how.

But hey, your mileage may vary.

quest88onAug 3, 2017

It exposes me to viewpoints, warnings, or subjects I wouldn't have learned otherwise.

For example, I've never given time to reading about gene editing, but after reading Change Agent I've been reading about gene editing and Crispr. I also have some minor understanding of the dangers and benefits of where that could take civilization.

I hadn't thought about what would happen in doomsday scenarios, like a large virus outbreak or an EMP blast, but Holding Their Own and One Second After exposed me to that.

Reading Seveneves exposed me to space travel and Lagrange points, I had no idea about these otherwise.

Authors like John Fante are great story tellers and he's such a joy to read instead of watching a tv series.

ben_wonMar 24, 2021

I really enjoyed Snow Crash; I felt that Seveneves was two completely different books that were coincidentally in the same universe, nether of which felt bad in isolation, but they definitely didn’t feel unified.

I wasn’t a fan of Quicksilver, but as that was the first historical novel I’ve listened to, and as it was award winning, I assume it must be more about my tastes than the quality of the writing?

jillesvangurponJune 14, 2021

I'm currently re-reading Seveneves again. Great book. I even like the third part which many people have criticized. However, that might have actually planted the seed for this new book.

This book looks like it might be a bit in the same spirit in the sense that our home planet is abused a bit. Part three of Seveneves is about the aftermath of essentially terra forming Earth in the distant future after it gets destroyed in part 1.

People think about other planets when it comes to terra forming but of course our home planet might be the easiest one to practice on and doing so might get a bit urgent as we seem to be destroying it. Great premise for a near future science fiction novel.

If you are looking for recommendations. Ian Banks can be a bit hard to read but can be very entertaining. Arthur C Clarke wrote some awesome science fiction. More recently, The Martian (Andy Weir) was great. And Andy Weir just published another book that's on my list to read soon. The expanse series of books (James S. A. Corey) is a good read. 2312 (Stanley Robinson) is also worth a look.

And of course if you at all enjoyed Seveneves, you might want to read the rest of what NS wrote. Anathem is great. Snow Crash, the Diamond Age, and Cryptonomicon are classics at this point.

wycxonDec 24, 2015

All consumed as audiobooks.

American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America - Colin Woodard;
I learned much about early US history.

Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman - Jon Krakauer

Find Me - Laura van den Berg

Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel

The Dog Stars - Peter Heller

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage - Alfred Lansing;
I was fortunate enough to read this right before Seveneves, so the references made immediate sense. Endurance looks to be popular on this list/this year. How many were inspired by Seveneves?

Seveneves - Neal Stephenson

The Years of Rice and Salt - Kim Stanley Robinson

Crystal Fire: The Birth of the Information Age - Michael Riordan, Lillian Hoddeson;
I highly recommend this book. Like The Making of the Atomic Bomb, but for the transistor. Lots of background on John Bardeen, William Shockley and Walter Brattain. I was unaware of the great legacy of John Bardeen: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Bardeen

The Making of the Atomic Bomb - Richard Rhodes;
If you have not read this book, read it, just for the summary of discoveries that lead to the atomic bomb.

Alas, Babylon - Pat Frank

The Man Who Ate His Boots: The Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage - Anthony Brandt

The Worst Journey in the World - Apsley Cherry-Garrard

The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen - Stephen R. Bown

I am looking for other books similar to Crystal Fire and The Making of the Atomic Bomb, that cover the history of scientific and technological discoveries. Any recommendations?

aidenn0onMay 15, 2020

That's funny because I love The Diamond Age, I like Snow Crash and thought Cryptonomicon was mediocre at best. I also never made it to the second half of Seveneves because I disliked the beginning so much.

Clearly there are two styles of Stephenson books, and we like the opposite ones.


Maybe I should try finishing Seveneves to see if I like the ending?

metaphormonDec 12, 2016

My opinion on Stephenson:

Cryptonomicon is fun, Baroque Cycle is great, Anathem is his best work (from a literary perspective), and Seveneves is 2/3rds awesome 1/3rd bad scifi pulp.

Snow Crash is how most people first encounter him. It's a warmed over cyberpunk book that repeats a lot of what Gibson did, but is also good.

The Diamond Age is one of the best pieces of speculative fiction written in the last 20 years except that it fails badly to have a coherent story with an ending that makes sense. Which is a shame considering the ideas in the book are so good.

REamde is shit and should never have been published. Dude was playing too much World of Warcraft at the time and decided to write a novel about playing too much World of Warcraft. Bad book. Avoid.

sfjailbirdonMay 15, 2020

To your last comment, I bought Snow Crash, based on a lot of recommendations, and hated it, for the stated reasons. It completely put me off Neal Stephenson. Then, much later, I relented and got Cryptonomicon, and it is one of my favorite books ever.

I have since dabbled a bit with Stephenson, and amazingly his other books fall along the same divide for me. Zodiac is amazing, the Victorian sci-fi series (Diamond Age?) are unreadable. One book, Seveneves, the first part is amazing Neal Stephenson, the second is lazy, naive and dumb Neal Stephenson. Super puzzling, almost as if he has (really bad) ghost writers.

I have since gone back to Snow Crash (could not finish it the first time), and with some overbearing, it is not entirely unlikable.

jsolsononApr 25, 2018

Ooof. Stephenson is among my favorite authors. Before Seveneves that wouldn't have had a qualifier.
I re-read Cryptonomicon every year or two, the baroque cycle about half that frequently, and Anathem a couple times now. I own Snow Crash and The Diamond Age in first editions. I cannot imagine re-reading Seveneves; it was both not a totally flawed plot (a quality I can ordinarily forgive in a Stephenson novel -- I love a good yarn) and it killed everyone I know and love, in an immediate near future sense, on the page in front of me.

It was, for lack of a better description, a callous novel.

eganistonMay 18, 2016

Seveneves is one of my favorites, even though it gets mixed reactions from a lot of others who've read titles like Anathem. I can't compare it to Anathem (the only other Stephenson book I've read so far is Cryptonomicon; looking to change that), but I can say I love the technical depth. Perhaps it's because it helps me suspend disbelief much more easily, though Bill's point that "if you’re the sort of reader who doesn’t care how such a thing might work, you will find yourself skimming parts of Seveneves" is probably true for most lay readers.

The only thing that somewhat frustrated me about it, as I suspect is the case for most people, is the fact that the last third of the book feels like it could (should?) stand on its own. That being said, there's enough room for Stephenson to explore in more depth some of the events leading up to the third act in subsequent novels... so here's hoping. I figure explaining why I feel this way would be a bit of a spoiler. Bill does enough to allude to it.

Anyway, thumbs up from me. I enjoyed every bit of it, and Bill's review does a good job of selling the book without spoiling it.

progreonMar 25, 2021

"Seveneves was depressing" - there's an understatement. Quite interesting sci-fi in it I thought, but did anyone really think a story about the end of the world would be a fun read?

Dodge in hell was more micro level depressing, he starts of by killing one of the main characters from a previous book after all. But I found it enjoyable over all. I think he managed to convey what he wanted with the book, and unlike Seveneves it was a quite fun read.

jobigoudonMay 22, 2021

Is this a reference to Seveneves by Neil Stephenson?

snowwrestleronSep 12, 2016

Seveneves is fiction.

While I agree that a major strike would be horrifically catastrophic, I think it's easy to underestimate the platform for life that exists on the Earth. Unless the biosphere is entirely wiped clean, it's always going to be easier for us to persist on Earth than in space, because this is where we evolved.

We don't understand our global ecosystem well at all. Think about one tiny aspect of human life--the gut bacteria. We are starting to learn that it is important, but we don't really know for sure where it comes from, what it does for us, and how changes in its makeup affect us. The Earth is TEEMING with bacteria, most of it unknown and unstudied. We have no idea what the long-term effects would be of removing ourselves from that permanently.

And if you can think of any risk to the Earth, it's greatly magnified for a spaceship. A comet might hit the Earth? Well even a small meteor will wreck a spacecraft. And there are a lot more of the small ones, and they are harder to see and track.

In the very long run, I hope we do figure all this stuff out and become a space-faring civilization. But in the short run there probably needs to be other reasons to try living out in space.

The two that I can think of are tourism and energy research. Tourism is a huge business and if you can imagine a luxury hotel in low earth orbit, well, it will need a staff and logistical support. As launch costs go down, this might start to make business sense.

For energy research, a multi-terawatt solar array in zero gravity might let you do all sorts of interesting things with exotic materials and high energies, like work on manufacturing antimatter.

alltakendamnedonJune 21, 2017

Windows Internals 7th Ed.

Seveneves, Neal Stephenson

Astrophysics for people in a hurry, Neil De Grasse Tyson

RandomOpiniononDec 6, 2016

I read Seveneves this year as well but came away disappointed. Some of the science was good (orbital mechanics, genetic engineering) but the rest of the science and engineering was fairly poor[0]. Couple that with the questionable decisions routinely made by many characters and it's a very weak novel overall.

[0] In particular, they did not (and physically could not) have launched a broad enough manufacturing capability for the remnants of humanity to have had a realistic chance of long-term survival. The practicality of the Seveneves themselves did was also at best dubious from a biological and other standpoints.

headcanononJan 17, 2019

SF stories have to pick and choose which tech they emphasize and which they gloss over. As a rule of thumb, tech shouldn't be explained much in detail unless it helps move the story along, or helps to describe the constraints in which the characters make decisions, making for a more interesting story.

The most elegant SF stories IMO gloss over a lot of tech - Inception for example, never explains a single technical detail about the machines that power the dream world, instead focusing purely on the human interactions.

A counterexample is Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, which focuses heavily on tech and makes a good attempt at keeping it within the realm of physics while still describing interesting ideas - however much of the theme of the book is how technology develops as a product of its environment and how it builds on existing tech in a collective way, so it contributes to the story. Even so, it was criticized for being too technical (even though I enjoyed that part of it immensely).

Another example is 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson, which makes the mistake of focusing too much on the tech - in fact the whole plot is essentially a vehicle for the author to describe all the possible human habitats that could exist in space.

sbierwagenonJuly 27, 2017

You parsed Seveneves as "optimistic"? The book where 7 billion people die?

idlewordsonSep 12, 2016

Read Seveneves and extinction will come to feel like a blessed release. It's a terrible novel.

burkeonOct 12, 2018

This is explored in Seveneves by Neal Stephenson.

d_theoristonSep 3, 2015

Made me think of Seveneves as well. I bet Stephenson would have found this thing really useful for writing the book.

jelliclesfarmonJan 23, 2019

“Agent”!!! Seveneves by Neal Stephenson!

DowwieonSep 16, 2016

After reading Seveneves, I shudder at the thought of living in space.

acherononJan 6, 2016

I feel like I should probably read Seveneves now

Do you like orbital mechanics?

transitorykrisonDec 22, 2016


Norwegian Wood - Haruki Murakami (I love Murakami’s novels, recommend starting with Hard Boiled Wonderland though)

Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball - Haruki Murakami

The Maltese Falcon - Dashiell Hammet (Surprising just how much San Francisco is in it)

The Postman Always Rings Twice - James Cain

Seveneves - Neal Stephenson (recommended)

Pattern Recognition - William Gibson

The Sun Also Rises - Hemingway (recommended, refreshing language)


Running Lean - Ash Muraya

Lean Customer Development - Alvarez

Talking to Humans - Giff Constable

Hooked - Nir Eyal (probably not need the book to get the thesis)

Sprint - Jake Knapp

Juno Beach - Mark Zuehlke

Anti-Education - Nietzsche

CogitoonNov 27, 2018

I've been meaning to read a number of different things, many from friends I've convinced to jot down in my reading suggestions spreadsheet.

It took a new local library opening up, and a holiday, for me to finally get to Snow Crash. I suspect I might be reading a few more of his works very soon.

I don't think I've read any of the others, though I may have started Seveneves at some point, but I did read "The rise and fall of D.O.D.O." (just before Snow Crash in fact!) which I highly highly recommend as well.

devindotcomonJune 19, 2015

Reamde was just bad. Not even on the charts. It's extremely tedious and narratively preposterous.


I'm going to read a few reviews of Seveneves before I read it, Reamde burned me so bad. Although now that I know this huge plot point (spoiler warning!?!?).... I don't know which way that tips the scales.

simonbarker87onDec 13, 2020

I put in SevenEves (my favour book) by Neal Stephenson and Leviathan Wakes by JSA Corey and the recommendations include:

Game of thrones,
Bernard Corwell books
Isaac Asimov

I've read these and I would put them in the same camp as the input books so I'm not sure exactly what it's supposed to be doing.

Nice idea but, unless I'm missing something, not the expected behaviour.

I would more have expected "the old man who climbed out the window and disappeared", Clarkson's biography and maybe a Jack Reacher type stuff (which I also enjoy but on the other end of the spectrum from the input books)

ngoldbaumonJuly 6, 2015

Have you gotten a chance to read Seveneves yet?

scbrgonDec 22, 2016

I finished Seveneves today. I agree that there's obviously a huge difference between the first 2/3 and the last - but how can you tell the second part is bad if you only read the first?

Personally I think both parts of the story are good. I think that it could possibly have been split into two different books to give the second part a bit more space. As it is now, the second part is a bit rushed, and ends quite suddenly (in classic Neal Stephenson fashion).

BillSaysThisonDec 6, 2016

Seveneves by Neil Stephenson

elwestiesonJan 2, 2017

Seveneves - Neal Stephenson

obstinateonApr 7, 2017

Huh. I use audiobooks when I'm cooking dinner, cleaning the kitchen, doing chores, but I don't speed read them. If you're looking for suggestions:

- Plugged -- Eoin Colfer

- Screwed -- Eoin Colfer

- Half {a King, the World, a War} -- Joe Abercrombie

- Also everything else written by Joe Abercrombie

- Seveneves -- Neal Stephenson

Sometimes it's not about how good the book is, but about the reader. That's the difference in the audio medium. Plugged and Screwed were books I only picked up because the reader of Half a King read them. They were stellar in audio form, but I don't normally go for those types of books in written form.

This can also up new avenues for how to spend time, outside of the multitasking case. I was staying with a friend a few months ago, and before bed we laid around for an hour listening to an audiobook that I wanted to share. It was like being a family in the olden days sitting around listening to a radio. Really great experience. I can't recommend it enough.

jewbaccaonAug 6, 2015

Not strictly on-topic or generally interesting, but for any of us who've read Neal Stephenson's new novel 'Seveneves', this reveal has a thin extra layer of interestingness:

In that book, a character who is an obvious analogue for Elon Musk sponsors the development of a variety of asteroid mining robots, including a type that superficially resembles this thing. 'Siwis' are, unlike this real thing, modular, semi-autonomous, self-propelling, and meant for operating in zero-gravity.

But still... snake robot sponsored by Elon Musk, out of nowhere.

InclinedPlaneonSep 7, 2016

See my other answer for some additional commentary on this style in general.

For Seveneves I think there's a combination of factors at play. Maybe he didn't know exactly how to finish it, and maybe (probably) he wanted to leave things open enough for a sequel. Mostly though, I think he was just trying to be subtle. There are a few moments through the climactic scenes that are very easy to miss but have a big impact on the plot line. Overall, I like that some authors have the guts to finish a book without wrapping up everything in a tidy bow (which can often be cliched and overwrought).

pebersonSep 21, 2017

I found Seveneves felt quite different to his other work in that it seemed that the first 2/3 was setup for the last third which was the story he really wanted to tell. Unfortunately I enjoyed the setup much more than the payoff - didn't help that it had a much more powerful climax.

Conversely in many of his other books he's having fun describing the world early on but drawing it back together at the end doesn't work as well - Diamond Age is probably the clearest example. In the end the experience is very broadly similar but it seems to come from different causes.

aaronbrethorstonJune 19, 2015

    SP: Two-thirds of the way into your novel,
Seveneves – in fact, on page 569 – you do
something kind of crazy. The story suddenly
skips ahead 5,000 years. What’s the idea here?

It took me maybe a week to read the first 2/3's of the book, and about three weeks to read the last 1/3. In many ways, these two parts feel like completely different books, one of which is significantly better than the other.

Also, I was occasionally distracted at the beginning when snippets of dialog from Anathem were reused in the form of exposition in Seveneves.

But, that said, I think the book is worth reading, especially the first 2/3's.

My personal, quick, rough ranking of Stephenson's bibliography:

    * Anathem
* Snow Crash
* The Diamond Age
* Seveneves
* Cryptonomicon
* The Baroque Cycle
* Zodiac
* Reamde
* The Interface
* The Big U

Haven't Read

    * The Cobweb
* The Mongoliad

extra88onJune 29, 2017

I just finished the trilogy. I enjoyed the first book well enough. The other two have some interesting world-building but I found the plot too slow moving. They're also depressing in a way I can't get into, not just the Dark Forest theory but the prevalence of the "if I can't survive, no one should" attitude. I wonder if the latter actually is more prevalent in Chinese culture or if it's just coming from the author. I did like how things wrapped up at the end of Death's End.

Much of Seveneves was depressing too but it all seemed very plausible. It was in what came next that seemed off.

ycom13__onDec 23, 2015

Here are all the ones I read this year

  A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R. R. Martin
A Feast for Crows: A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) by George R.R. Martin
The Confident Speaker: Beat Your Nerves and Communicate at Your Best in Any Situation by Harrison Monarth
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewsk
To the Last Man: A Novel of the First World War by Jeff Shaara
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender
George Washington's Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade
Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain by Steven D. Levitt
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
Finders Keepers: A Novel by Stephen King
The Guns of August: The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Classic About the Outbreak of World War I by Barbara W. Tuchman
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson
Hitler's Last Day: Minute by Minute by Emma Craigie
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Robopocalypse: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries) by Daniel H. Wilson
Robogenesis by Daniel H. Wilson
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick

My 5 favorite ones from that list are

  In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
To the Last Man: A Novel of the First World War by Jeff Shaara
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

OopsCriticalityonNov 9, 2015

I'm cheating a little on the date, but The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin stands out. It was translated into english late last year, and received the Hugo this year for best story. It's wonderful sci-fi written on a grand scale, and made all the more interesting and refreshing to me by coming from outside the Western perspective. It's one of a trilogy: The Dark Forest english translation is out, and Death's End is coming beginning of next year.

Also enjoyed Seveneves by Stephenson, and H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. The former is likely known to the HN crowd; the latter draws comparisons to T.H. White's classic The Goshawk.

Among non-fiction books, I enjoyed The Little Prover by Friedman and Eastlund. It was exactly what I expected, a gentle introduction into inductive proofs in the idiom established by The Little Schemer.

CodeMageonJune 19, 2015

A bit of warning about Seveneves: treat it as a duology. A lot of readers complain about the pacing problems caused by that 5000-year jump the article mentions. Basically, the pace slows down to a crawl again at that point and starts slowly building up.

If you treat Seveneves as one book, that might annoy you. If you treat it as two books, published at the same time so you don't have to wait for the next one after you've finished the first, then it suddenly makes sense.

And if you're used to Neal's writing style, then you already possess the patience you need with almost every one of his books, because they usually start slow and build up a tremendous momentum over time, until they reach a frantic pace and then they just... stop ;)

Don't get me wrong, I love his books, but I'm all too aware that you simply have to get used to his style and "forgive" him for certain aspects of it. I know I can and do, but I also know people who can't.

TeMPOraLonMay 18, 2016

Seveneves is one of the best sci-fi books I've ever read. It was a hard emotional ride.

(small spoiler follows)

One of the interesting gems I remember: the surviving humans looked back at the recordings of their ancestors, in particular about how their behaviour was affected by social networks - and collectively decided not to pursue that aspect of the Internet.

(This may actually be a plausible in-universe answer for why there's no Facebook in Star Trek.)

bluenose69onMar 12, 2020

I cannot disagree with any of this, really. The man seems to get into a mode sometimes, and forgets where the ESC key is.

Still, I mostly enjoyed reading "Fall, or Dodge n Hell". Not as much as Cryptonomicon, mind you, and less than Seveneves; Anathem is stronger than any of these.

Although I have to work to get past the 100-page chunks that fill his book, it does not put me off reading about a book a year. Quicksilver is on my list, for example.

All of this is to say that he is a flawed writer, but that there is much to be gained by reading his work.

rosseronJune 19, 2015

I enjoyed the second part of Seveneves quite a bit, myself, though I definitely feel like it could easily have been expanded a bit, and become a second volume. I will say, however, that the sharp divides between the "races" felt a bit artificial to me, much like the ways the alien species in something like Star Trek are monocultures, for no obvious reason beyond author/plot convenience.

I'm trying to break through the initial wall in Anathem presently. I think part of what's impeding me is that I bought it in mass-market paperback format, and the binding on my copy is egregiously bad; it's shedding leaves like a Minnesota maple in September.

laurentlonApr 24, 2018

I’m currently re-reading Seveneves, and will probably tuck into Cryptonomicon (for the third time) in the next few months. Neal Stephenson’s books are rich enough that I usually get a different vibe from them when I read them again. For instance, on first read I liked the second part of Seveneves better than the first part, and now it’s the other way around. Maybe it’s due to the fact that on first read I get sucked in by the plot twists and on later reads I can enjoy the scenery and pick up different themes.

AlexeyMKonDec 27, 2019

Consider https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/09/30/i-can-tolerate-anythin... for another take on political centrism/general tribalism. A bit (err, quite a lot) lengthier but it gets to some interesting ideas about the inevitability of tribes. Stephenson's Seveneves also comes to mind as a book-long meditation on the same topic.

myhfonJan 6, 2016

In Seveneves, Stephenson discusses "Amistics, the study of the choices made by different cultures as to which technologies they would embrace or spurn."

"Anyone who bothered to learn the history of the developed world in the years just before Zero understood perfectly well that Tavistock Prowse had been squarely in the middle of the normal range, as far as his social media habits and attention span had been concerned. But nevertheless, they called it Tav's Mistake. They didn't want to make it again. Any efforts made by modern manufacturers to produce the kinds of devices and apps that had disordered the brain of Tav were met with the same instinctive pushback as Victorian clergy might have directed against the inventor of a masturbation machine."

You see those kinds of choices being made at a cultural level all over the world. Developed countries where nobody uses leafblowers, or in-sink food waste disposals, or what have you. People understand how those things work, they just don't want the effects.

xtiansimononAug 23, 2020

I like the science fiction which doesn’t believe in fairy tales. Homo sapiens sapiens evolution over 5 million years conditioned to life on Earth—-so what’s out there? Solaris (2002) or Expanse book series scratch that itch. The horrific is a turn back to ourselves. Everything else is the shock of planetary ecosystems we did not evolve to survive in. Stephenson’s SevenEves has that same effect just in how hard it is to get off world in a hurry.

JeddonJuly 13, 2018

Heh. I sometimes read these contemporary ask-hn's and realise I'm way outside of the loop, but can agree with this short list. In recent years have read-and-thoroughly-enjoyed Neal Stephenson's Seveneves, Cixin Liu's The Three Body Problem, and Charles Stross' Accelerando - and only later realised they're basically all about the end (in different ways) of the world.

I'm two thirds of the way through Ramez Naam's Nexus trilogy ... and am now starting to think I have a literary fetish.

arthurjjonSep 21, 2017

I initially felt similar. But once I realized that Seveneves is actually two RPG novels [1] it gets much better.

Part 1 & 2 are universe backstory. Like the Horus Heresy in 40k or the story of Lilith in Vampire.

Part 3 is just to advance the plot of the univers. Like the Dragonheart Trilogy in Shadowrun or when the clans get introduced in Battletech.

[1] http://arthur-johnston.com/essay/2015/10/03/seveneves.html

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