Seveneves: A Novel
Neil Stephenson is among my favorite authors, and my number one go-to dude for popular fiction. His writing is clear, his characters well developed, and his research top of the line. He is one of the few authors whose books I buy no questions asked, as soon as they come out.
While generally considered a science fiction writer, his books are wildly different. In the past he’s covered virtual reality, the scientific revolution, neo-platonic future monks, cryptography, and more. This one, which is perhaps his biggest single volume work, is the “hardest” science fiction book he’s ever written. Its central premise is the absurd, but thought provoking question “what would happen if the moon exploded?” From there, Stephenson explores, in detail, both the technical and social aspects of rebuilding a society in space. Rarely does a book explore in this kind of precise detail how, exactly, you’d go about fueling interstellar travel, or how, precisely, you’d do major construction projects in space.
I like science, but these sections of the book (some of which go on for over fifty pages) were tough sailing for me. What kept me going were Stephenson characters – altruistic scientists, scheming politicians, individuals unhinged by the experience all of whom are trying to figure out how to rebuild a society from scratch. It’s well thought out from start to finish and if smart speculative fiction is your thing, this is well worth your time. The ending seems to hint at sequels. I hope they arrive. I get the feeling this story is just starting.
Recommended for the enthusiast.
*”hard SF” is generally defined as science fiction with an emphasis on speculative, but theoretically rigours science.