Seveneves by Neil Stephenson

"The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason.

With that first line I was hooked. And it get's better, or worse as it happens for characters in the story. An extinction level event is coming. The earth has two years to figure out how to make sure the human race survives what is being called the Hard Rain, when the moon's debris will start falling to earth. It will bombard the planet like nothing ever before, creating a dome of fire that will cook everything on the surface. 7 billion people will die.

The book is divided into three parts:

Part 1 covers one year after the moon's disintigration. Scientists and world leaders make desperate plans to put as many people into space as they can, while others choose to try their luck underground, and some even under water. A "casting of lots" in every country decides who will be sent to the Iternational Space Station, which is being expanded and stocked as fast as possible. 

Part 2 covers the year leading up to the Hard Rain, the event itself, and then the desperate attemps of those who were sent "up" to survive in space. They have to avoid colliding with fragments of the moon without getting too close to the burning earth, and then deal with unrest and violence among the survivors. Eventually, they reach a place of safety, but by then there are very few left.

Part 3 jumps ahead 5000 years - 5000 years! - to see how the human race has fared. The earth is being "TeReFormed" and contact, at times hostile, has been made with descendants of those who went underground and under water.

The story is fascinating but the amount of technical information left my head spinning at times. I must confess I scanned some of those parts instead of really reading them. I didn't dare skip them entirely for fear I'd miss some things. And there are So. Many. Things. A little overwhelming at times, but much too interesting to quit. 

861 pages of science fiction - or anything really - is a lot, but I guess it takes that long to destroy and create a whole new world. The world created in Seveneves is complete with new scientific, cultural, economic, and political realities. The thoroughness of it is amazing. 

That's not to say it's without its flaws. The last section being 5000 years in the future, all the characters you've gotten invested in are gone, and although they are still, in a way, part of the continuing story and referred to often, the break is jarring. It's a little like starting a new book, one that isn't quite as riveting as the last one because you aren't holding your breath to see if the human race survives. They have survived and flourished, and once you begin to read about how that happened it grabs your full attention again.

There is a lot of detail - enough to make me wish I had a degree ...physics...orbital something? but there is also great writing and strong, likable characters. And a plot that is nothing short of an epic vision. 

I thought it was brilliant.


Post a Comment