Book Title: Atmosphæra Incognita
Author: Neal Stephenson
Release Date: 07/31/19
Star Rating: Short novella – hard sci-fi
Disclaimer: I received this book free from Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.
Since this one is so short, there isn’t a great deal to say that won’t compromise the plot. So here is the synopsis from Goodreads:
Atmosphæra Incognita is a beautifully detailed, high-tech rendering of a tale as old as the Biblical Tower of Babel. It is an account, scrupulously imagined, of the years-long construction of a twenty-kilometer-high tower that will bring the human enterprise, in all its complexity, to the threshold of outer space. It is a story of persistence, of visionary imaginings, of the ceaseless technological innovation needed to bring these imaginings to life. At the same time, it shows us our familiar planet from an entirely new perspective, and offers vivid snapshots of the unique beauties and unexpected hazards of the “atmosphæra incognita” that lies between this world and “the deep ocean of the cosmos.”
I feel that this description is inadequate. Maybe I was reading a little too much into the blurb, but conjuring the iimage of the Tower of Babel story led me to expect some drama, some human interest. In fact, the comparison to Babel is only a physical one. This novella goes into detail about the building of an enormous tower, and while the human characters are interesting their lives and motivations are secondary to the feat of scientific achievement being accomplished. This book is very much hard Sci-fi. Which will be great for some readers … not so much for me personally. That being said, it was easy to read and absorbing. It is also very short at 104 pages. I enjoyed reading it even though I’m not into the technical details, I much prefer character development. If you like hard sci-fi then this would be a very good little morsel for you to whet your appetite on.