This review was originally written in 2015.
I felt like I might need a little bit of time to digest Seveneves by Neal Stephenson before giving it a proper review. I loved Anathem and Reamde, but I think that Seveneves is my favorite of his novels aside from The Baroque Cycle trilogy and Snowcrash.
The first two sections of the novel, which constituted approximately 3/4 of the narrative, were some of the most depressing and devastating segments of literature I’ve read.
Beginning with the destruction of our moon, detailing the desperate worldwide push to establish an orbital colony wherein a very small percentage of the human species could weather the thousands of years during which Earth itself would be uninhabitable, and painting a painfully accurate portrait of just how badly we would mess everything up to the point where that small percentage was whittled down to only a handful of women (the “eves” referred to in the title)…the first two sections of the book tease the reader with hope and glimpses of ingenuity and adaptability that we all know human beings are capable of, only to taint that with our propensity for paranoia, infighting, and self-aggrandizement.
The novel jumps forward 5,000 years between the second and third sections and that final quarter of the book is jaw dropping in so many ways. I won’t give anything away, but though there is still ample evidence of a lot of those less desirable human traits that led to the attrition earlier in the book, what we experience as readers is something magnificent, something that would be awe inspiring to see us achieve.
I don’t know if Stephenson had intended it, but I saw the big twist coming from well before the jump forward in time…the surprise awaiting the characters we follow during the final part of the book wasn’t any surprise at all to me, beyond the finer details at least.
I hope that Stephenson expands on this world he’s created in Seveneves; I would love to see where things go from the conclusion of this book, because there is really so much more to be explored.
Having finished the novel, I want even more to see this adapted into a movie or (better yet) a miniseries on one of the cable networks that could provide the budget necessary to do the story justice…and I still want to see Neil deGrasse Tyson and Elon Musk play the characters that were so obviously modeled after them.