Seveneves Synopsis: What would happen if the world were ending?
When a catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb, it triggers a feverish race against the inevitable. An ambitious plan is devised to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere. But unforeseen dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain…
Five thousand years later, their progeny – seven distinct races now three billion strong – embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown, to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth. – Goodreads
I’m someone who loves “hard” sci-fi, so this type of book was right up my alley. Things don’t go perfectly. People are toe-rags. Yet, through it all, humanity demonstrates the sheer inventiveness and survival instincts that have taken us so far and will probably take us even further in the future.
The book is divided into three parts. Basically: Before, During, and After.
I think the Before section was probably my favorite, as the science was written in such a way that you can follow it and only feel a bit lost at some parts. All characters are mostly believable, but the fact that one of the main characters is so bluntly a Neil deGrasse Tyson clone actually makes it a little difficult to get firmly “in” the story, as suddenly you’re seeing NdGT’s face and surface mannerisms projected onto a character this is, quite frankly, not written with much charisma at all. It moves swiftly in a way easy to imagine as a sort of movie montage, and that kept me easily entertained and paying attention. At one point I was a little concerned about keeping track of the sheer influx of characters I was being introduced to, but it sorted itself out quickly enough.
I found During section to be the hardest to get through. It seemed the reaction of most of the characters to the incoming White Sky threat to be a bit off, but as I’m socially awkward and react in weird ways to situations, I can’t say its necessarily unbelievable. All I know is that’d I’d have reacted more as the Dr. Then again, when one is tasked with overseeing the survival of the species whilst having knowledge of the devastation of the other 99.9 percent, who can say how you’d react?
I started losing ability to easily keep track of all the technical stuff during part two, and found myself skimming sections where it was obvious it wasn’t stuff I needed to know. Detachment from characters happened almost before I had a chance to get attached to any of them, which is a bit disappointing, because you want to have that one character you connect/relate to, and I couldn’t find it in this book.
The end of Part 2, though, was probably one of the more fascinating and strongest bits of the book in a lot of ways. Even though the technical stuff was hard not to space on, you could easily visualize much of the action due to Stephenson’s skill.
The After section was almost its own “short” story tacked onto the book, and a somewhat fascinating glimpse into genetics and evolution. I think about midway through book two is where Stephenson really began to geek out, but he didn’t truly let loose until the After section. Honestly, though, at this point, the story had somewhat exhausted my patience so I was eager for it to wrap up in a short, satisfying manner. Unfortunately, that’s not how it played out. It drug on a little too long, playing out an important part of history for a group of people that I cared nothing about.
Final thoughts: I enjoyed Seveneves, and enjoyed the amount of thought that was obviously put into it, but probably shouldn’t have picked an 850+ page book as my introduction to Stephenson. I will read more of him in the future, though!