Seveneves by Neal Stephenson – Book

Neal Stephenson is hardly new to many science fiction readers
but this is the first time he popped up on my radar. Then it was as if a
“flynk” (read the book) captured me and I moved Seveneves immediately to the
top of my reading list. Since then I have been enjoying the future Neal
Stephenson created very much.
The novel begins when an unnamed (and unknown) “agent” hits
our Moon and breaks it into seven large chunks of moon rock spinning in space.
Just imagine, for a minute, looking up and instead of our one Moon, our romantic
Moon that waxes and wanes in the night sky, we are seeing seven spinning chunks
of rock. Scientists name them the Seven Sisters.
Soon enough they begin to collide with each other and break
apart, so Seven Sisters become eight, etc. Scientists and world leaders are
carefully observing the breakup of the Moon. One fictional scientist, obviously
modeled after Neil deGrasse Tyson, is depicted as a serious scientist who can
explain high tech things in low tech ways. He becomes a link between engineers,
computer scientists, physicists, the government, the people and the reader.
All these experts extrapolate from the data available and
postulate that Earth has about two years between now and two key events
precipitated when the moon collisions reach some kind of critical mass. These
two events, the White Sky and the Hard Rain will destroy all life on the
surface of the Earth.
With two years to plan and given that very little progress
has been made in space, the nations of the Earth spend all their resources
finding ways to send a kind of Noah’s Ark into orbit near the Space Station
which is already there. No animals will be sent since all of their DNA info has
been saved to the computer and they can be “reseeded” on Earth 5,000 – 10,000
years in the future when Earth becomes habitable once again. Humans must be
saved, though, as we do not know how to make a human completely from lines of
computer code. This new ark is called the Cloud Ark and every nation chooses
two promising young people to train for this mission.
Be prepared to enjoy lots of hypothetical, but not
necessarily unbelievable, space physics. Neal Stephenson is our Neal deGrasse
Tyson. He takes what Penny on The Big
would call ‘high techie-techie’ information and dumbs it down for
those of us who need that. He leaves it quite high tech enough to please a
reader with a degree in engineering also, I am guessing. I thought the Seven
Sisters were the seven Eves, but they became eight so soon that I realized that
I would have to read further to find the significance of the title. I really
enjoyed where Stephenson went with this.
The front end of this book seemed to tell this complex story
at just the right pace. However, Part II and especially Part III seemed to lack
the pace and detail of Part I. This book could have been and probably should
have been a trilogy with equal time given to the things that occurred after the
Hard Rain and also to the drama of the return to Earth. However, it really
doesn’t matter because this book is packed with all the adventure of being
forced to live in space and all the ingenuity of space innovations that predict
things we might want to actually build someday. Be prepared, it’s long, but
full of the technology and the human drama that make sci-fi so enjoyable
to fans.

By Nancy Brisson