For those of you who pay attention, you’ll notice that I’m often way behind on all the popular books. It’s true – I try my best, but I just can’t keep up with everything I want to read.
Anyway, this week I finally finished Seveneves. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long time, and I was excited when I finally got the chance.
Seveneves is by Neal Stephenson, and in a lot of ways, is reflective of a lot of his work. The man is a genius with an incredible imagination. His stories are always combinations of technical know-how and rational speculation, and this book is no different.
It’s hard to write about a book like this without spoilers, but I’ll try. The book begins with a simple premise: what would humanity have to do if the moon blew up? What follows is a long, detailed look at a possible outcome.
For fans of Stephenson, everything we love about him his present. Technically detailed, realistic sci-fi injected with a mega-dose of imagination. Many readers might consider it dry (and in many parts it is), but it’s very interesting to see one man so thoroughly explore this problem. As the story moves farther away from the first page, the more imaginative it gets.
The critiques of the book are fairly unanimous: this isn’t a character driven story, but a technically driven one. It’s a huge book that feels like it could have been split into more. There’s a lot of backstory and dry technical information.
None of the critiques are untrue, and I would agree that Seveneves certainly isn’t for everyone. If detailed descriptions of orbital mechanics sound like torture to you, it might make sense to avoid the book, but if a hard, scientific look at a purely speculative problem sounds fascinating, you won’t find anyone who does it better.
Seveneves, in my mind, is a triumph of knowledge and imagination. It’s certainly not for everybody, but I’m an unashamed Stephenson fanboy, so I’ll acknowledge my bias, but his fiction is still in a league all its own to me.