[Day 2] Seveneves by Neal Stephenson #HugoChallenge Book Club


Read all the entries for the Seveneves

Last night I set out on reading the Seveneves, that I challenged myself and everyone interested to by the #HugoChallenge: 5 books in 13 weeks.

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I didn’t get very far last night as I ended up distracted by a random fact that only the Stargate fans would understand. But oh well I’ll try to explain.

So I was reading a post about NASA’s plans to develop a realistic proposal  about how to get to the Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to us that is in 4.4 light years.


And there kicks in my default Stargate personality. Tauri is the Gua’uld name for the Earth, for us. This symbol and name is a big deal in the series, so much so that it must be the most tattooed on symbol from sci fi.


Well, I don’t know the actual statistics if this is the most tattooed symbol, but based on the fan group postings, it has to be in the top 5. Back to the Alpha Centauri. So I am thinking, wait, maybe it means ‘the closest to earth’, because alpha means the first, or maybe he first from, which may be easily interpreted as the nearest. I  got excited and posted it on Facebook.

Some unimaginative folk insisted that the name has to do with the Centaur, the man-horse. Of course I had to defend my position. First, I know what a Centaur is. But the Alpha Centauri is not called Alpha Centaur. There is the ‘i’ in the end. Ok, if that’s not enough reason, I go for the serious argument and pull on linguistics. When in doubt, ask yourself: What would Daniel Jackson do?


So I look up ‘cen’ as a preposition. Come to find out, that from old Irish cen is:

  • except
  • without

Derived terms:

  • cen ḟis do (“unbeknownst to, unknown to”)

… which brings us to ‘unknown to’. Which may be interpreted as the  alpha site unknown to Tauri. Imagine Ra, the gua’uld who ruled the Earth in the ancient Egyptian times, according to the Stargate mythology, saying to his human servants to call that star an Alpha Cen’Tauri. And they like, Alpha what? And Ra, the arrogant parasite as he is, says, “Human Shol’va, you will not understand”. When the human persists, he says, that it is a half-man and half-horse. So perfectly gua’uld of him! So I conclude that Alpha Cen’Tauri (that’s how you should spell  it) is the hiding site or a backup planet, where Ra probably has hidden amazing treasures. There is no need for the gate there, because any gua’uld can cover such short distance on a ship.  And this is the reason why the Alpha Cen’Tauri never appeared in the official cannon of the Stargate – the system was not among the coordinates programmed in the gate!

This is the real reason why I cannot tell you much about the Seveneves, because I ended up making a fanfic plot for the Stargate universe. What I have learned from the Seveneves so far is that  it has a promise of ton of great  science speculations, but also a lot of weeds. I tend to love the more crisp writing style, like, for example one of my favorite contemporary writers of the entertainment literature John Scalzi. What I have read on the 20 pages of Seveneves, Scalzi would probably write in 5 sentences, and would have 3 jokes in there. No wonder the book is bloody 881 pages long! I suspect if the author cut out the description of every muffing each character ate for breakfast throughout their life, this would make a neat 300-350 page volume.

But the premise is very interesting. All of a sudden, the Moon exploded and was shattered in seven pieces. This is where I suspect the title comes from. Seven-eves, as if each eve is like the eve with seven moons, but I may be mistaken. So far it is only  my speculation. The little piece of criticism so far is that there is always mentioning how everything so horribly changed after the event, but the author really drags the metaphoric cat by the metaphoric balls and does not show us anything terrible. I’d write it right away, on the first page, and than use a flashback to cover all the details.

This is it for the very  first impression of the Seveneves. I will definitely continue reading because this book made so much hype, I need to know what it is all about. Just will get my weed rake handy.


Stay tuned for more reports from the weeding battle through the first volume of the five Hugo nominees and join the challenge. Joining is super easy. It is free. You don’t need to do anything special except keep up the reading pace with us and post your comments and thoughts occasionally. Super simple.

Post your comments below this post or to the Seveneves on the official #HugoChallenge page here.

Plugging along!

Ellie Maloney

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