The Seveneves Notebook

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Paul P Paul P | over 7 years ago
How does the torus not RIP itself from izzy?
The ISS, and presumably Izzy, rotates as it orbits earth, presenting its "belly" (nadir) to the earth at all times.

The torus assembly is spinning on the end like a propeller, so its axis of rotation must therefore also precess through 360 degrees every 90 minutes.  This seems like it would impart enormous forces on the bearings and torque on the spine of the station.

So how does the torus assembly not precess the entire station around Amalthea, or rip itself apart through gyroscopic forces?

Kelly Bell Kelly Bell | over 7 years ago
Alternate moongeneering

So... With all the crazy emergency feats of macro-engineering going on in the book, why did nobody try to just hold the moon together with a net and some kind of crazy glue or space cement (like the pyrcrete or whatever)? It seems at least as theoretically possible as all the other craziness people came up with... 

I'm only 1/5 of the way through the book because I just got it yesterday, so maybe that's exactly what DOES happen? But it seems unlikely that's where the story is going. I dunno  but it just occurred to me about a chapter ago, when the Ymir disappeared at L1  

Dustin Block Dustin Block | over 7 years ago

I'm hoping that's addressed in the book. Why not at least attempt to limit the damage? Maybe that's a ridiculous idea based on the size of the moon, but it does seem like a question that needs answering for readers. 

Deon Booker Deon Booker | over 7 years ago

Hi Tom,  Here's the link where you can find Neal's behind-the-scenes notebook, along with bonus illustrations:

More illustrations to come soon...enjoy!  

David Hearn David Hearn | over 7 years ago

I recognized many characteristics of Neal DeGrasse Tyson in  Doob, a good model.

Peter L Eidenbach Peter L Eidenbach | over 7 years ago
Complete list of characters by location and "race" w/ page numbers

Part One

oe Rufus MacQuarie 6 miner

GP Dinah MacQuarie 8 Rufus' daughter, roboticist

GP Ivy Xiao 8 ISS Izzy commander

GP Dubois Jerome Xavier Harris 12 TV host, astronomer

GP Frank Casper 16 IT

GP Jibran Haroun 16 IT

GP Konrad Barth 16 astronomer

GP Lina Ferreira 17 marine biologist

oe Aurelia Mackey 18 NASA deputy admin.

oe Amelia Hinojosa 25 elementary teacher

AK Julia Bliss Flaherty 27, 52 President USA

oe Pete Starling 28 President's science adviser

oe Cal Blankenship 33 USN submarine commander

oe Scott Spalding 35 director of NASA

GP Fyodor Antonovich Panteleimon 39 cosmonaut

GP Maxim Koshelev 41 cosmonaut

GP Bolor-Erdene 42 cosmonaut

GP Yuri 42 cosmonaut

GP Vyacheslav Dubsky 42 cosmonaut

GP Rhys Aitken 42 engineer

oe Mary Bulinski 55 US Secretary Interior

oe Celani Mbangwa 55 South African artist

oe Clarence Crouch 55 geneticist

GP Moira Crewe 55 geneticist; Crouch post-doc

AK Tavistock Prowse 63 blog journalist

Sean Probst 68 head of Arjuna Mining

GP Tekla Alekseyevna Ilushina 85 Scout cosmonaut

GP Igor 90 Scout cosmonaut

GP Marco 90

Ulrika Ek 91 Arkitect-in-chief

GP Margie Coghlan 96 physiologist, medic

GP Spencer Grindstaff 97 network & communications

GP Jun Ueda 108 life scientist

GP Larz Hoedemaeker 110 roboticist

GP Zeke Petersen 125

oe Henry Harris 130 Doob's son

GP Luisa Soter 142 social worker, psychologist

oe Margaret Sloane 169 White House comm. director

oe Mario 189 news photographer

oe king of Bhutan 191

AK? Dorji, Jigme 195 Bhutan Lottery choices

GP Markus Leuker 200 Swiss astronaut

GP Wang Fuhua 200 Chinese taikonaut

oe Hadley, Hesper Harris 212-213 Doob's daughters

oe Enrique 213 Hesper's boyfriend

Part Two ---------------------

GP Miguel Andrata 283 geneticist

GP Tom Van Meter 288 engineer

GP Salvatore Guodian 294 lawyer

GP Steve Lake 301 hacker, IT

GP Zhong Hu 312 biologist

GP Jiro Suzuki 373 nuclear engineer

AK Camila 403 Muslim student

GP Dr. Catherine Quine 432 medical doctor

GP Paul Freel 439 engineer

AK Li Jianyu 432, 455

AK Ravi Kumar 432, 470

AK Aida 513

AK Michael Park 515


oe Old Earth

GP General Population

AK Arkie

Part Three

Mo Kath Amalthova Two 570 Survey

Tk Beled Tomov 593 Survey

Di Rhys Alaskov 594 Survey

Iv Dr. Hu Noah 596 TerReForm geneticist

Di Leuk Markov 597 TRF geneticist, Hu's teacher

Mo Cantabrigia 600 Eve Moira's only daughter

Mo Kath One 601

AK Julius Mwangi 625

JU Ariane Casablancova 626 Quarantine agent

Ca Remembrance 637 “Memmi”, Hu's aide

Catherine Dinova 643 1st new generation

IDi Tyuratam Lake 677 bartender/manager

IAn Langobard 686 vintner

Ju Tomac 716 Julian prophet

IIv Einstein 733

D Donno 769 Digger leader

D Marge 770 Digger captive

D Sonar Taxlaw 771 Cyc (encyclopedist)

D Pop Loyd 772 Digger elder

D Ceylon Congreve 793 Cyc mentor

Ca Hope 800 medic

Iv Esa Arjun 800 intelligence analyst

Tk Roskos Yur 809 Snake Eater soldier

Mo Kathree Kath Amalthova Three 811

Mo Cantabrigia Barth Five 824 officer

Mo Jamacia Hammerhead Five 844 lived to 200

P Deep 855 Pinger envoy


Di Dinan

Iv Ivyn

Mo Moiran

Tk Teklan

Ju Julian

Ca Camite

Ai Aïdan

An Neoander

Aj Jinn, Gheni

Aa Aretaic

Ab Beta

Ae Extat

I Indigin

D Digger

P Pinger

Mrs W Mrs W | over 4 years ago

David Hearn David Hearn | over 7 years ago

Neal is obviously familiar with the campus. I recently attended my 50th reunion there.

Jill Jill | over 7 years ago

yaacov lazar yaacov lazar | over 7 years ago
a number of problems
<p>Don't get me wrong, I loved the book, even the last third, which I think was set up nicely by the first two thirds. I have no problem with the psychological differentiation of the races. They had a thousand years of messing with their genomes during the age of isolation. (As per textev) And at least half of it would be cultural anyway.</p><p>1. The biggest problem I think was that Izzy wold be just as fried by the white sky as the Earth's surface. The sky takes up a fraction more than 180 degrees from the point of view of someone on the surface. From the point of view of Izzy at 400 km altitude, the atmosphere takes up a fraction less than 180 degree. Not much difference. They'd be fried just as crisply. The radiant energy of the white sky goes in all directions.<br></p>

Dan Dan | over 7 years ago

The day before The Break, the day the White Rain started, Ivy and Dinah both report on how they need to begin moving away from Earth as the atmosphere is showing evidence of expanding.  This was something they expected and were prepared for.  There is a reference to needing enough coolant to get the entire ark "higher". 

yaacov lazar yaacov lazar | over 7 years ago
<p>particularly set in the age of isolation, the first thousand years.<br></p>

yaacov lazar yaacov lazar | over 7 years ago
<p>I look forward to more books in this universe<br></p>

yaacov lazar yaacov lazar | over 7 years ago
<p>6. Boiling the oceans. Where did the water go? It boiled off into the atmosphere, but when the surface cooled down, it would rain out back and refill the oceans. Unless some of the H2O was fractured in the high atmosphere (by ultraviolet?) and the hydrogen lost. This is IIRC how Mars lost it's water. But then what happened to the excess oxygen? If it was only a little (gigatons) then the comets were only to top off the oceans. dunno.<br></p>

yaacov lazar yaacov lazar | over 7 years ago
<p>5. The underground shelter in the book gets their power from geothermal. You can only generate power from temperature differentials. You need someplace hot and someplace cold, relatively anyway. The surface would be roasting and after a while the heat would penetrate some way down. I don't know how much. Any shelter would be between a rock and a hard place. You have heat coming up from below, deep mines always get hot the deeper you get. So you would have to find some kind of temperature differential to run your generators and then run a massive refrigeration plant off of that, and find some place to dump the heat. Maybe that's why the governments preferred to invest in shelters at the bottom of ocean trenches.That might work better.<br></p>

yaacov lazar yaacov lazar | over 7 years ago
<p>3. And what about Orion? It would have been ideal for the situation. I was looking forward to lifting a few million tons into orbit by blasting a-bombs underneath thick concrete, steel and lead plates. See Footfall by Niven and Pournelle. It would explain nicely why the powers that be didn't seem too concerned by the logistics of long-term survival in orbit. A half million tons of ice would go a long way. And they would leave Orion till the last minute to avoid freaking everybody out. (and it would kill a lot of people) Oh, well.<br></p>

yaacov lazar yaacov lazar | over 7 years ago
<p>4. Why would there only be one underground safe haven built? That survived anyway. Another reason that governments would see Izzy and the arklets as a distraction for the populace would be that they were pouring most of their efforts into habitats in deep existing mines and the like. Much easier to move millions of tons of needed stuff and thousands of people underground than into orbit. Seems obvious.<br></p>

yaacov lazar yaacov lazar | over 7 years ago
<p>2. The first thing I thought of when the moon broke up was that you now have a chaotic multi-body gravitational problem. These things are not predictable even theoretically. You could have a chunk slingshotted off in some random direction by the orbital interactions of the seven, then dozens of pieces of the moon. Even a 50th chunk of moon slamming into the earth would leave nothing left but a very short book.<br></p>

Someone , Executive Author | over 7 years ago

I like the numerological significance of "seven" representing the seeker.

Tom Blackwell Tom Blackwell | over 7 years ago
Am i missing something?

Having just finished and enjoyed SevenEves, II came to this site to see the " technical drawings, a bonus illustration of Endurance, and a “making of” video" mentioned at Neal Stephenson's site - but I can't seem to find them.

Gary Gary , Hive Master | over 7 years ago

Hi Tom -- Login and go to for the video.  We'll be releasing some additional images into the gallery this weekend.

Tim Florer Tim Florer | over 7 years ago

I, also, am not finding the pictures or video.  The above link just kick me to the main page for Seveneves.  Am I doing it right?

Tom Blackwell Tom Blackwell | over 7 years ago

Not sure where to put this, so I'll comment here. The comment form acts a bit weird.  The subject field is all caps on entry, but not after submission.  Text pasted into  the post editor with its original black background that then affected the whole post.

Charles Hill Charles Hill | over 7 years ago

I've been a fan of Mr. Stephenson since his first work.  Seveneves is a disaster on too many levels to explain.  "Disappointing"  is my kindest critical evaluation.   My bedtime prayers now include a fervent wish that NS never gives a moment's consideration to a sequel.


Marc Bernstein Marc Bernstein | over 7 years ago

I couldn't disagree more. Just to provide a counterpoint, I loved the book and would gladly read a sequel if there was one.

Captain I/0 Captain I/0 | over 7 years ago

Thirded from me. I thought it was a great read and great fun. I'd love to read more.

Now, I do admit that the third act gets off to a slow start, but the first 2 acts were outstanding and the last half of the third act was too.

Eugene Wong Eugene Wong | over 7 years ago

I second that - would be interested in finding out aspects of "the Purpose" referred to by Ty at the end of the book.  Also...SPOILER much did Julia know about the project that led to the race that appears at the end of the book (trying to be circumspect so as to not spoil) and did she pass on that knowledge to her children?

Charles Hill Charles Hill | over 7 years ago

Len Len | over 7 years ago

Some excellent illustrations of content from the latter portions of the book.  They help if you are reading the audiobook

Rob Rob | over 7 years ago

How did the repopulate animal species? Did they create some sort of artificial womb?

DVJ Labonte DVJ Labonte | over 7 years ago
If you can't wrap your head around the possibility of artificial wombs and test tubes then you really shouldn't be bothering with Stephenson's books as they are often in depths which would require A) thinking outside the box B) technical knowledge of the subject matter.

Rob Rob | over 7 years ago

There was no need for such an aggressive response. The method was never directly indicated in the text.

Charlie Uniman Charlie Uniman | over 7 years ago

Wasn't there a glitch in the last third of the book when Doc declined to go with Ty, Einstein and the others and then ended up in crucial scenes during that "adventure?"

Gary Gary , Hive Master | over 7 years ago

which glitch?

Charlie Uniman Charlie Uniman | over 7 years ago

Again, the glitch amounts to Doc declining to join Ty, Einstein, Kath Two et al. and then appearing as part of their exploration that resulted in their finding the Diggers. First, Doc said he wasn't joining them and then he's there with him. There's a disconnect here. 

Rob Rob | over 7 years ago

I just skimmed the relevant passages and the only thing I noticed was Doc declining to go drinking with them. After they met Einstein, they all departed the next day to see the artifact.

bob mcconn bob mcconn | over 7 years ago

Richard Thompson Richard Thompson | over 7 years ago

My favorite novel of Neal Stephenson's has been Cryptonomicon. I am currently enjoying reading Seveneves and suspect it may eclipse Cryptonomicon as my favorite. It is well written and highly imaginative.

Richard Thompson Richard Thompson | over 7 years ago

jw00d jw00d | over 7 years ago

This novel is an instruction manual of what we should do when we have to leave the Earth..

bob mcconn bob mcconn | over 7 years ago

well...the first two sections comprise the user's manual; the last 3rd is on the path set by LeGuin,  It's v. neat how the book honors two of the most important post WWII sci-fi "eras." I read it first, and now we just finished listening too on our commutes and evenings.  It's certainly up there with the Golden Age and Cryptonomicon as my favorite NS books; which means, of course, that it's among my favorite books.  Orbital mechanics info dumps replace his usual "geography" dumps (my wife and i are both geographers so those breaks have always appealed.)