ur world ends, not with our planet, but with our moon.
Something never specified rifles through the moon one night, splitting it into seven massive fragments (and countless smaller ones). And there hangs that object we’ve taken for granted, the friendly orb which has shown down on our parents and grandparents, all the way through the ages, not longer a sphere but a cloud of debris. Sad, yes. Sadder still when scientists realize that these fragments are grinding, smashing, and pulping ever smaller. In two years time the gravel field will encompass the Earth. Then will come the White Sky. And then the Hard Rain. With the fall of so much matter into the Earth’s atmosphere, it will set the very air afire. Life, as we know it, will end. Our homeworld will become a scorched ball of rock.
And this started the drive to live on. Our focus is primarily on the people of the ark swarm. Centered on the ISS (now capped with an iron asteroid) new tiny ships are launched, as many as can be safely (or otherwise) inserted into orbit. As time grows shorter, as more and more rocks fall from space, human desperation and drive are magnified. Nukes are used to protect launch sites. The swarm grows to 1500 people. And other plans take shape, deep digs and sub-ocean settlements. But soon the rains come and the planet burns.
So this is how it goes in Neal Stephenson’s latest work, SevenEves (originally I assumed this was in reference to the seven major chunks of moon released, but no, there is a deeper meaning as well). The story is primarily focused on the survivors in space, following them through desperate attempts to capture ice asteroids, to survive mutinies and defections, to deal with each crisis as they attempt to turn around their fortunes and get beyond basic survival. The interesting part comes just after half-way, when you think they can survive, going forward in a strange and unthinkable way. And as you blink that down, suddenly a page-flip reveals the words “5000 years later”.
Yes, now you get to see what comes of it all as the planet is resettled and the good (and bad) of the past is projected forward.
This is a good one – solid science fiction (and I do mean “solid” – 867 pages). I rather enjoyed the story – it scooted right along without getting bogged down in events or character conflicts. However, one thing that was missing (and the person who loaned me this book agreed) – we don’t really get to see our world destroyed. Sure, there is a poignant symphony broadcast from Notre Dame as the rain begins but never do the characters really look down and reflect on the death throes of their world. we get indications, yes, quick glimpses of life as it ends in blistering agony but for the most part a planet as wired as ours didn’t seem to send much of its final moments into space. Nobody on the ISS seems willing to even glance out a porthole at what lies below. In this, we are left with a dark spot in our couscousness – we keep wondering what’s just under the ISS’s nose – what does the planet look like now? What happened in the hard rain. It is a disaster novel sans disaster.
But that’s really my only complaint, the antiseptic end of our planet. Otherwise, simply, Stephenson delivers. I ranted about how good this was that it actually got my wife to pick up my old favorite Snow Crash (from the same author). But for you folks willing to invest the time on this monster, pick it up. It’s a great read with a pretty good pay off five millennium into the future.
>>>OR GO BACK 2400 YEARS INTO THE PAST WITH COMPUTER PROGRAMMER MASON TRELLIS, BACK TO THE WORLD OF THE ANCIENTS, AND SEE WHAT A MODERN HOMETOWN BOY NEEDS TO DO TO SURVIVE IN THE TRADING EMPIRE OF THE PHOENICIANS. EARLY RETYREMENT – FOR SALE HERE!<<<