This book people. It’s a monster, it’s huge, it’s brilliant, it’s been infiltrating my dreams. It’s so much that I’m not even sure how to start writing a review for it. There’s a little bit of something every sci-fi lover will enjoy but if you’re into Hard Science Fiction and World Building, this shit is for you.
SEVENEVES is split into 3 sections – Pre-Agent (before the Moon essentially explodes), Post-Zero (the years after the moon explodes and detailing the mission to get as much of humanity into space safely as possible), and 5,000 After Zero (kind of speaks for itself). The first two parts are straight up Hard SciFi. It’s written from the POV of a few characters but these are not character studies, they are tools through which the science is conveyed. There are a lot of engineering, robotics, and space exploration details that I honestly had some trouble getting through, although it was interesting and well written. It was just dense with explanations about asteroid mining and velocity and exponential statistics.
Stephenson is obviously a really smart dude to be able to understand and put together all the details that he includes here, but more over, to make it interesting enough to keep reading is a real feat. What is really amazing as you read through the book is that although it’s over 800 pages long, not one once of that heft is weighted. What you thought was kind of a boring tangent in part one whips back around (sometimes literally) to be an essential part of the story in part three. So if you start to glaze over at some of the density, put the book down, digest it for a few days, and come back. It’s all important, it’s all perfectly placed, and it’s all worth reading.
While parts 1 and 2 are very much traditional hard scifi, what we get in part 3 is what most hard science fiction authors forget to include. It’s what I’m always aching for at the end of a really good book. What now?
By including part 3, 5,000 years after the inciting incident of the plot, SEVENEVES transcends simply being hard science fiction (or as some people refer to it “boy” scifi) and becomes something more insightful and evocative. Part 3 is again, not so much a character study of individuals, but this time its a study of archetypes. Not just the ones based on our assumptions of people now, but also, taken to the most extreme possibilities of the dynamic set up at the end of Part 2. I know I’m being vague, but there’s no way to really tell you what I mean without giving away what the SEVENEVES really are, and it’s more fun to read for yourself.
I enjoyed part 3 the most, feeling the most interested in the cultural sciences than the engineering and architecture, but again Stephenson wove the two together in such a way that they become part and parcel of effect of the moon exploding. I will say, that although it was already long, I do wish there was more. We are left at the end with almost as many questions about the Pingers as we had about the Spacers and Diggers in the beginning. I would love to see an ancillary story about this alternate history arc. Either way though, the ending is satisfying in the sense that it gives answers to the questions answered in the book and a sense of hope about humanity in general.
Highly recommended and there’s still a few days to enter to win your copy! Enter here: http://www.pktyler.com/giveaway