Atmosphaera Incognita by Neal Stephenson

Atmosphaera Incognita

For more than two decades, Neal Stephenson has been the reigning master of the epic fictional narrative. His vast, intellectually rigorous books have ranged in setting from the distant past (The Baroque Cycle) to the modern era (Reamde) to the remote future (Anathem, Seveneves). But when Stephenson turns his attention to shorter forms, the results can be every bit as impressive, as this dazzling novella—itself a kind of tightly compressed epicâ...

Details Atmosphaera Incognita

TitleAtmosphaera Incognita
Release DateJul 31st, 2019
PublisherSubterranean Press
GenreScience Fiction, Fiction, Novella

Reviews Atmosphaera Incognita

  • Sarah
    This is my first experience with Neal Stephenson. At a mere 104 pages, it was much less intimidating than some of his other very lengthy novels. The premise is very simple: eccentric billionaire wants to build tower twenty miles high. It moves at a meandering pace, going over everything from the tower proposal to purchasing the real estate to the actual engineering of the tower and the various obstacles they must face.But the science behind build...
  • Michael
    Unlike most of Stephenson's wonderfully expansive works of technical imagination, this is a novella. It mines an interesting story of a billionaire named Carl working to fulfill his idiosyncratic dream of building a 20-kilometer tall tower. Holy moly! For perspective, Mt. Everest is 8.8 km tall, or 5.5. miles.The narrator Emma was Carl’s friend at age 12 and is picked by him to manage the project based on her track record in property management...
  • wishforagiraffe
    Stephenson does surprisingly well in this short form. Fewer long digressions, but still a lot of great technical ideas and solid conceptual science. It has a conversational tone and covers a lot of ground, in several senses of the word. I would have likely been just as happy with a full accounting of the tower's building, rather than the breezy overview we get, but it works well in this form. Unfortunately, even with room to expand a bit (the pri...
  • Liviu
    another disappointing work from the author, this time a novella that has a great premise but mostly fails to deliver with wooden prose and uninteresting characters
  • Val Timke
    This was truly a dense text, and if you're not up for reading pages upon pages of structural design descriptions, this may not be for you.My experience with this tottered somewhere between enjoyable and relieved it was short. It wasn't that there was too much description but I didn't really connect to the description until the latter parts about the weather and "sprites."I see some people saying they were glad it was short and in some way, I am g...
  • August Is Azathoth The Haunted Reading Room
    The geniuses of our era, in my opinion, are the late Stephen Hawking, John Connolly, and Neal Stephenson. I never miss anything Mr. Stephenson pens, even though sometimes I have to really stretch my brain to comprehend, because isn't that the point of science fiction? Of any literature? To stretch us, mold us, trigger us to evolve into our better selves?In his very new novella Atmosphæra Incognita, a self-made, crusty, often irritable, and very ...
  • Nicole
    Enjoyable novella about some people who build a space tower. For such a short piece, I got more character development from Stephenson than I had expected. Granted, we're told rather than shown a lot of the character development, but the story was not quite 100 pages long. (The book's official total is 104 pages, but include some reference material at the end.) It was an enjoyable read, but more than anything it makes me think of the science behin...
  • Nichole
    This one really didn't do it for me. It was a quick read, but it was pretty much just about building a tower, and engineering. This may appeal to some people, but it wasn't for me.I received a copy from Net Galley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
  • Michael Frasca
    A tale for engineers and those who like engineering. There is barely a story in this novelet, but that's OK because the wonder of the concept carries the reader along.Pairs well with Kij Johnson's The Man Who Bridged the Mist.
  • Brennan (
    This was another kind of strange book. Overall, there was really no point in it other than to take this reader along as the tower is built and show how it affected certain peoples lives as they became involved with the project. As the story was quite short, there was not a whole lot of character development, but I did enjoy our main character Emma and getting to see how her stakes in the project allowed her to meet some new people and how it chan...
  • Kend
    Happy book birthday to this little novella!I should preface this review with a disclaimer: This is the first work by Neal Stephenson that I've read. I know, I know, it's criminal. He credits Jeff Bezos in his acknowledgments, which makes a lot more sense when I realized he *works* for Jeff Bezos, sort of. And the character at the center of this narrative is not its narrator, a competent lesbian with a degree in comparative religion and no job pro...
  • Jen
    Full disclosure: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.An eccentric billionaire decides that his legacy will be to build a 20-kilometer-tall steel tower. As nothing like this has ever been attempted before, the project poses massive engineering and supply problems, not to mention the political challenges of convincing local government and the local community at the proposed site to allow ...
  • Reviews & Robots
    For me, Atmosphæra Incognita was equal parts architectural fascination and tingling discomfort when imagining that top floor view. It’s a quick story centering on a billionaire who decides to build an enormous tower tall enough to reach space. We primarily follow the workings and observations of the project lead, a childhood friend who was in the right place at the right time and landed this lifelong gig. I found the specifications and details...
  • Ren HappilyBuriedInBooks
    Neal Stephenson’s work isn’t what comes to mind when asked to prove that good things can come in small packages, but Atmosphæra Incognita is proof of exactly that. Rather than a towering novel, this is novella about a tower. In a scant hundred or so pages, Stephenson manages to engineer a steel extrusion process and pinpoint the ideal location for its needs, build a tower twenty kilometers in height, and breathe life into the characters need...
  • Lou Jacobs
    This short novella appeals to hard SF geeks. Stephenson presents a dazzling narrative exploring the detailed technological innovations entailed in a project to construct a twenty kilometer high tower that reaches to the junction of our atmosphere and outer space. Virtually creating a vertical city that serves as a platform to the stars. The story unfolds in the eyes of real estate developer who is tasked by a self-made, eccentric billionaire to f...
  • Ralph Blackburn
    Atmosphoera Incognita by Neal Stephenson- Neal Stephenson's latest, a novella rather than the usual exceedingly long works we are accustom to, is the modern day story of a billionaire who wants to erect a twenty-kilometer tower straight up through Earth's atmosphere and into space. The tale is told by of all people the real estate person, who he selects to find him properties, and goes on to become the de facto administrator for the project, beca...
  • Jason Pryde
    Neil Stephenson at his flat out best. I generally believe that authors should stick to their strong suits and not get too ambitious with character types outside of their realm. NS has surprised me before and does it again here with his ability to plausibly replicate a different personality type than his own educated white male. In this case, a middle age lesbian, without a political ax to grind, just a life to live. Most authors would fall back o...
  • Kim
    Great promise but way too short at 104 pgs. Self made billionaire Carl calls upon the help of an old childhood friend Emma, a real estate agent to help his plan to build a 20 kilometer high steel tower. This book takes you from choosing the right location based on weather, substructure and agreement of the area to the building processes and technical aspects needed to complete certain levels. This book was just way too short to feel a real connec...
  • Snozzwanger
    Paradigm SlamBaroque Cycle it ain’t, but you know that.Feels like a seed, perhaps, but may be nothing more than what it is- a quick read of a fascinating idea.A brief adventure, a minor tragedy, born of a mini-crisis. Altogether perfect for a near future mass-media news cycle, complete with middle aged lesbians, spacesuits and adventure sports spokes-jock.
  • Paula Lyle
    This is an interesting story about the technical challenges in building a structure that is 20 kilometers tall. For me, it would have been a lot more compelling if it had at least suggested a reason why anyone would want to do this. I guess the point is that billionaires don't need a reason to leave a phallic monument to themselves behind.I received an eARC from NetGalley.
  • Andrea
    A lovely little short story from Neal Stephenson. When man's reach exceeds his grasp, all manner of technical problems ensue. Building a tower reaching 20 kilometers into the heavens is an engineering challenge of epic proportions. Even in the context of using our most advanced technology, Stephenson's characters are incredibly grounded and down to earth, which gives this story its real charm.
  • Randal Cooper
    Read this insteadHere’s Stephenson on a micro scale—micro being 20km tall. And about a hundred pages long. No forcing yourself to plow through the long walks to get to the good stuff: it’s been cut down to almost 100% good stuff. Wish it had more of an ending, but that’s a minor quibble.
  • Sercalunna Pautasso
    I like Neal Stephenson and I think that these novella perfectly reflects his style and his usual themes.It's enjoyable, well written and I liked it even if I found the final part a bit rushed.I recommend it.I receveid this ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in Exchange of a honest review.
  • John Kaye
    Fun. And short. We could probably do with more of this sort of literary exploration of the outer reaches of engineering possibilities in an optimistic way. The future should not be humdrum, though there are manifold miserabilist forces out there wishing such a future on us.
  • J.D. DeHart
    Neal Stephenson is a science fiction badass. His work usually spans pages, chapters, and volumes.This book is on the slim side but showcases Stephenson’s talent. In fact, this book could act as a brief introduction for those interested in this author.Short but powerful.
  • Mike
    A short story or novella that will only take an hour or a bit more to read; it's definitely N.S. though very compressed, and I'm not used to reading him in this form. But everything you would expect is there, and it's of course worth the time of any N.S. fan.
  • Paul
    This is an unusually short work by this well-known author, but a good one! The story is concise and interesting, and you'll probably learn a few things along a way. Recommended.I really appreciate the ARC for review!!
  • Jennifer Snow
    FunA fun and challenging little story about the immense technological challenges of construction on an unprecedented scale. Worth a read.
  • Timothy Haggerty
    Short and sweet.Great detail packed into an easy hour read. I enjoyed the link to the engineering site for more details. I wish I live long enough to see something like this built.