The good thing about reading the short/long lists is that it forces you to read books that you wouldn’t normally go anywhere near. Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves is a good example of this. Neal Stephenson is one of those authors who I would normally avoid. Firstly, he is a popular author and that always puts me off a writer. Secondly, because his books are so long. But, it’s on the Locus recommended reading list and so I had to read Seveneves. I am glad that I did.
This is the plot. Earth is going on its own merry way when the moon splinters into several pieces. Gradually, they notice that the pieces are smashing into pieces and getting very near to Earth orbit. Scientists begin to fear that one day one piece will hit the earth and send earth into a destructive spiral. The planet’s leaders join forces to send an arc into space, a group of people who will live on a space station and wait out the dark rain, returning to Earth when it is once again habitable. The work traces; the preparation for take-off, the political spats that surround that take-off, their life on the station, the splits that emerge, and their final return to earth.
The station prepares. Its inhabitants are chosen. They are sent into space. They quarrel. Factions emerge. They battle on social media. Leaders are chosen and then toppled. They fight cosmic debris. The book’s well drawn, believable, characters must fight the Universe and each other to survive.
This book is a fun read. The world is immersive and believable. It is a world of social media. It is a world of bloggers. It is a world of tribes and factions. It is a world of conspiracies. It is a world in which people form tribes around strong leaders or strong ideas, creating vicious online battles pitting one tribe against the other in increasingly vicious social media wars. But, it is, also, a world of exposition. Stephenson spends a lot of time, and pages, explaining the science behind every part of the space station, the universe and the fate of earth. Despite, or perhaps because, of this, Seveneves is an immersive, enjoyable, read.