Seveneves at The Interval
About This Talk
Author Neal Stephenson has had a long though informal connection with Long Now. Before the foundation was formed, soon after Danny Hillis began to consider designing a 10,000 year Clock, he asked a circle of friends to give input on the idea. Neal drew up his own imaginative Clock Designs and sent them along. Years later those ideas and sketches stuck with him and became the foundation for his book Anathem. He launched that book as a Long Now event in 02008. And more recently he asked Stewart Brand for some input about his 02015 book SEVENEVES.
It is not a spoiler to say that Earth's moon explodes in SEVENEVES, because that happens in the very first sentence. Stephenson starts his intro by explaining that this novel is a "Space Ark" book, which it was his goal to write. But crafting a narrative where humans have time to build giant crafts to lift them off their planet is not trivial. It takes a particular kind of slowing ticking disaster, as he explains.
In Neal's commentary we are treated to a quote of Bruce Sterling's definition of the "thriller" genre (which I won't spoil); Neal's own neo-acronym for a flavor fast-breaking Internet outrage, and an in-depth anecdote of German medical history--a footnote to his SEVENEVES research which didn't really figure in the book
The lively discussion with Stewart and the audience brought out questions about Stephenson's work habits, back catalog, and his next book (of which he had already written hundreds of pages though he was just starting his SEVENEVES book tour). He is as precise and detailed-driven in these conversations as he is on the page; and likewise his sense of humor also shines through.
This event took place in May 02015, days before the 1-year anniversary of the first event at The Interval (which was Adam Rogers' talk). It was Stephenson's first visit to Long Now's newly renovated bar/cafe and headquarters. In addition to being a friend of the organization and a vital contemplator of our future (near and far), Neal is one of just over 1,000 people who donated to building campaign for The Interval. It was the perfect way to mark one year, and our 30th event, for him to share his latest work in the space his support helped us build.
A special daytime talk by celebrated speculative fiction author Neal Stephenson on the occasion of his just released novel "SEVENEVES". After a reading, Long Now co-founder Stewart Brand joins Neal to discuss the research and writing of the new book, plus a little bit about what is coming next. From May 02015.
February 23, 02016