Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Seveneves and the Crazy Final Third: Why?

Why did he do it? Why did Neil Stephenson ruin his own book? There I was, rattling along with what I thought was a sublimely good book. Then the last third happened and all my good feelings for him as a writer disappeared in an instant. Before that point, I was considering buying his earlier books. Now... I'm probably going to leave it a while before I risk again disappointing myself on this scale.

Yet all of this was avoidable. Why did nobody tell him to stop? Why did his editor not suck their teeth and suggest that he end things around page 600? The first two thirds: one of the best science fiction books I've ever read. It really was that good and barely any part of it felt like a drag. I found myself squirreling myself away in gaps in my day, just to guiltily enjoy another few pages. The moment I finish that second third, I thought: wow. Great book. Great ending. Up there with the best of Arthur C Clarke. Then that last third happened...

Why? It could have been a book in itself or it could have been a two page chapter. Other writers have done just that. What was he thinking writing three hundred page conclusion that felt like an entirely different book? I'll be honest. Tonight I gave up. I'd read about 200 of those pages but my mind had gone long before that. I found myself wondering if I had better things to do and I realised that I had. I was bored out of my mind with the endless descriptions of things I just couldn't visualise and so many neologisms that at times it felt like I was suffering from word blindness. I just couldn't read about one more snake like robot whip like tendril doing something, connecting to something, swinging at something, disconnecting from sometime... It was driving me crazy!

Sorry. I had to get that off my chest.

But if you're in the mood for some excellent sci-fi, you should try the first two thirds of Seveneves and then treat the final third as one of those sample chapters to a rather dry and boring sequel that you'll never get around to reading.


No comments:

Post a Comment