Neal Stephenson
Seveneves Cover

Seveneves: A Novel


The latest Neal Stephenson novel is a technological tour de force with all the emotional engagement of a dead fish (I might be doing dead fish a disservice since even they register activity on an fMRI machine).

The end of the world is nigh, something has shattered the moon and all the pieces are going to drop to Earth in two years time and sterilize the surface. But not to worry we have lots of time to build stuff. Enter a cast of characters who will save a small select portion of the human race and do so in glorious two-dimensional color which is rather surprising given that they are based on real-life people - Neil Degrasse Tyson, Malala Ypusafzai, Hillary Clinton etc.

We are supposed to believe that building a international space station that will house a few thousand people will be enough to keep the billions of people on Earth from descending into anarchy and take their government issued euthanasia pill when the time comes like the good little background actors they are. Whatever - it's Technology people! And when the time comes our intrepid heroes are given 720 seconds to mourn it's passing because we have to build more stuff and allow space for massive info-dumps and not waste time on that messy emotion stuff.

The final third of the novel jumps 5,000 years into the future so we can have even more massive info-dumps and an entirely predictable and slow moving plot. The seven cardboard cutout women who are the only survivors on the space station (seven eves, get it ?) have become seven races because stereotypes are genetically transferable as any bad writer will tell you.

I can't help but compare this novel, unfavorably, to Ben H. Winters Hank Palace series. Go read those and don't waste time on this.

This review also appeared on Library Thing as an Early Reviewer review.