SPOILERS! I'm 300+ pages into the novel and really enjoying it. The Hard Rain has been ongoing and the brief descriptions of the event, the individual reactions and the realisation of the need for martial law (+ its enactment) got me slightly emotional, despite the prosaic manner of the descriptions. I think the heavy exposition is 100% necessary for describing the full ramifications of this ultimate disaster story. I mean, this is a 'hard SF' novel after all and set in current times with the limitations our current levels of technology places on us. These functionalities and limitations are wonderfully described. And I've already learned more about the ISS, the launch processes, the various rockets/modules and the dynamics of astronauts than I ever thought I'd know. Unlike Weir's "The Martian" with its technical descriptions of the problem solving processes that could get quite tedious, especially juxtaposed with that rather forced humour, these descriptions are more fluid. Stephenson is a good writer and the novel has kept my strong interest throughout, but it's really been riveting the last little while. But not in an action-thriller type of way - more in a subdued manner where all the preparations have been slowly building up to a head and then it's suddenly upon you. But even when it's upon you, there's this quality of meta-detachment, even whilst some of the characters go through their own shit briefly. As he remarks when some people are emotionally breaking down and the Martial Law announcement is taking place: She tried then to mourn for all the others who had died, but it was too big. Emotionally, it was little different from reading about a great war that had happened a hundred years ago. Which maybe was Markus' whole point. Even though the dying was still going on, they had to force themselves to think about it like the Irish potato famine, or like what had happened to the peoples of the New World when Columbus had arrived and infected them with a slew of deadly diseases. Regret, even horror were appropriate. But detachment was necessary. They all had 704 seconds in which to effect detachment. I'm very impressed by how's he gone on to depict the forces of politics and science, especially as they come into opposition. It's been very nuanced and realistic, with multiple such threads, and he's been able to imbue an excellent measure of our global Zeitgeist into the narrative without it seeming tacked on. Done very naturally, in fact, with some fantastic observations tinged with irony. And he's done a great job of dealing with the psychology of impending doom on a global scale - the tactics governments take to pacify crowds, the lies tinted with hope, the paradox of the hypocrisy that actually seems to stem from a kernel to do what they (governments) think is best - this shows up in the difference in attitudes between the private and public sectors. The technical descriptions and the adaptations of various scientific principles including marine biology to the Cloud Ark Project is fantastic. I'm loving the orbital mechanics. I should have most of the day tomorrow to read. A Watney 'yay!' Opinions on the novel?