Book Review: Seveneves

This book took me forever to read. It wasn’t that it was a chore. It was that life got in the way and it was that the book is huge (880 pages). But I kept with Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, and I am glad I did. For while some sections got a bit bogged down with technical, scientific details, the second half of the novel soared with imagination, and showcased some of Stephenson’s fine skills as a science fiction writer.

The story revolves around Earth in the aftermath of a devastating event: the moon is blown up into seven pieces by a mysterious object and the result of this extraordinary event changes Earth forever, leading to a survival story of the human race. The first half of the book is how Earth will send a core group of representatives to space, as they anticipate a cataclysmic event known as the Hard Rain, as pieces of the broken moon break apart further and form a shower of fire and destruction. Humanity will be destroyed.

Only those in space will survive, with a mission to stay alive and return to Earth many generations down the road. The moral quandaries of this mission — who gets to go? who has to stay? — as well as the scientific ones — how will they survive over the term? — are at the heart of the first part of the novel.

The second half of the story is set way deep into the future, when humanity has regained some foothold in space (as descendants of the only survivors in space — seven women known as the Seven Eves who use genetics and science to begin a rebirth of humanity … thus, the title) and these people are helping Earth comes back to life through terraforming. Surprises await this race of humans as they slowly make their way back onto Earth.

I won’t give more of it away. Seveneves is a good read if you like science fiction, with a hefty dose of science thrown in. Stephenson never explains what caused the moon’s destruction and only hints that it was part of some larger event or religious experience, like some modern Noah’s Ark story.

Peace (in the world),

  1. Loved it too! And I think of it once a week – the sign of a good book. I hope many people read – he believe in the problem solving capabilities of humans, so this is no “going down” book.

  2. I read the sample and wanted to buy it, but I wanted to hear first from someone who finished it! Thanks for the review!

  3. Stephenson worked on the Blue Orbital sub-orbital satellite project funded by Bezos. I figure he had a lot of hard science in him that just had to come out. Had a hard time finishing it by listening. For some reason I think this Cory Doctorow article fits, not sure why:

    Antispam today is cliff jut. Kent’s jaw was a regular cliff jut and Lois could not quite remember where she had seen it before.

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