Friday, December 18, 2015

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Title: Seveneves
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Science Fiction/ End of the World
Format: Hardcover; 880 pages
Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition ~1st Printing edition (May 19, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0062190377
ISBN-13: 978-0062190376
Author's Website:
Notes: I borrowed this one from the library.

It happened like a thief in the night with only one stargazer seeing it seconds before impact. Something, most likely a meteorite, hit the moon shattering it into several pieces scattering its debris throughout the atmosphere. Most seemed unconcerned about the division until one scientist understood the full extent of what had just happened. After careful calculations and restless nights, he found his assumptions to be correct. and unleashed his finding upon the world. Life on Earth was about to end. Humanity had one or two years tops to figure out a way to survive the events that would surely come to pass. Bringing together the best minds of the time to solve the dilemma, the conclusion drawn was to expand the international space station and send a fraction of the population their to hang out for several hundred years until the Earth would once again be able to sustain life. This is the story of what happened.

According to Murphy's Law. anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. The question is how do you plan for it on such a large scale?

Seveneves was an interesting book that, in my humble opinion, went a little crazy, but I liked anyway. This was the third book I've read by Neal Stephenson. I didn't make it through Snow Crash, and while I may attempt to read it again, the first go around didn't impress or keep my interest. I made it through Anathem, but if I hadn't been listening to the audio, I probably wouldn't have made it through. It wasn't until the second half of the book that things picked up and started getting interesting. Seveneves, however, was full of things which would make ones inner techno geek squee, and kept a fairly good pace. If I hadn't known who the author was going into this book, I could have easily identified the individual as being male. (Just read it and I think you'll understand why I say this.)

The book is broken up into three parts. The first part focuses on the Moon's destruction, and the first year on Earth thereafter. The second part focuses on the cloud ark and the survival of the human race in space. The third portion is set 5,000 years into the future with the survivors' descendants attempting to terraform and repopulate the planet.  

The main concern during the first part of the book was 'How the heck do we survive this?'  The second portion was more focused on 'How do we have sex in a place without gravity, and who can I hook up with?' Yes, I'm exaggerating a bit, but I actually chuckled because I didn't expect quite so much of this in a science fiction book. I guess living in a place where there isn't much else to do would lead to amorous activity. The whole sex dilemma was rather ironic because in the end no men ended up surviving. Only Seven women do, hence the title Seveneves which refers to the seven woman who end up "mothering" the new world. Luckily one of the survivors was well versed in science of genetics. The third, and final part focused on going back to Earth, making it habitable, and repopulating it while dealing with problems many of which were unforeseeable and unexpected.
I liked how Stephenson went in depth into how and why the world as we know it ended. It's rare that an author explains this. Many just don't bother to go into detail about such things. What I liked most was the way the author seemed to really capture the temperaments, personality conflicts, and power struggles that would occur when a large group of people are stranded together in a small confining space. This element of the story was well written and very believable.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. It was well written, had a nice pace, and was a fresh take on the end of the world scenario. The author carefully seeded the story with well crafted twists and turns which kept me surprised and entertained. The survival of only females was an interesting twist. The third part of the book is where Stephenson let his imagination and creativity soar. It was by far my favorite part of the book. The ending, however, was not all neat and tidy and left me wondering could a sequel was in the mix? I personally hope so.

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