Seveneves – Neal Stephenson

seveneves
What I loved:

The premise: The moon has blown up. But the why doesn’t matter. Instead it is what is going to happen to Earth and the human race when the parts of the moon collide and keep colliding. The Earth is going to be on fire. And the survival of the human race is at stake. They have two years to figure it out.

The entire surface of the Earth is going to be sterilized. Glaciers will boil. The only way to survive is to get away from the atmosphere. Go underground, or go into space.

Outer space: Ah I love me a book set in space. And while I enjoy books set in made-up planets or completely futuristic settings, I really liked this one for utilizing things that are already present, like the International Space Station.

The characters: And the fact that many of them were women. A female President of the United States. A female commander of the International Space Station (who is by the way, Chinese-American). A female engineer/miner on board the ISS. Women are more essential in this story. It is after all called Seven Eves.

“…there was an understanding, widely shared but rarely spoken of, that men were not the scarce resource. Women – to be specific, healthy, functional wombs – were.”

The tech: It isn’t too far fetched, and I could easily see a lot of it happening today or at least in the near future. They still use Facebook (although it later became Spacebook). Also there is a billionaire space entrepreneur.

The first two-thirds of the book: It was exciting and dramatic and full of puzzling out of things to do to save (wo)mankind. Figuring out what cultural treasures can be saved. The preservation of embryos and ensuring the diversity o fate species. I liked how some everyday necessities were mentioned, not just how to cultivate food up in space, but also spectacles. A machine that could produce spectacle lenses had to be sent up to the ISS. Just a lot of things that we take for granted.

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What I didn’t love

The tech: A lot of it went over my head! I appreciate that he didn’t dumb things down but woah that’s a lot of science.

The final third of the book: I won’t talk too much about it as I don’t want to spoil it for you if you’re planning to read it. What I didn’t love may not be the right way to put it, I did like reading parts of the final third of the book, it answered many questions that I had, but also generated many more. I think partly because while Stephenson has great story ideas and all, here the characters (different ones from the first two-thirds) aren’t given much of a chance. It’s hard to explain it without really talking about the story though!

 

(You can read the first 26 pages of Seveneves on Neal Stephenson’s website)

 

Bibliography

  • The Big U (1984)
  • Zodiac (1988)
  • Snow Crash (1992)
  • Interface (1994) with J. Frederick George, as “Stephen Bury”
  • The Diamond Age: or A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer (1995)
  • The Cobweb (1996) with J. Frederick George, as “Stephen Bury”
  • Cryptonomicon (1999)
  • Quicksilver (2003), volume I: The Baroque Cycle
  • The Confusion (2004), volume II: The Baroque Cycle
  • The System of the World (2004), volume III: The Baroque Cycle
  • Anathem (2008)
  • The Mongoliad (2010–2012)
  • Reamde (2011)
  • Seveneves (2015)
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