"You know the scene in Apollo 13 where the guy says 'We have to figure out how to connect this thing to this thing using this table full of parts or the astronauts will all die'?
"The Martian is for people who wish the whole movie had just been more of that scene."
Randall Munroe, XKCD, Issue 1536
"If The Martian is, essentially, a story of people on earth trying to keep an astronaut in space alive, then Seveneves is its reciprocal: a story of people in space trying to keep the people of earth alive."
Serjeant's Muse, to spouse, in a never-ending effort to be succinct
Seveneves is a science fiction epic told in three parts by American author Neal Stephenson. The novel opens with the explosion of the moon - an agent has acted upon the moon in such a way to break it into seven very large, and gravitationaly hazardous, bits. The first two parts are hard science fiction which deal with the immediate diagnosis and realization of what that event will mean for the inhabitants of the planet Earth, as well as the implications regarding the future longevity of the species homo sapiens. A sprawling cast of characters make hard and heroic choices over the course of a five year period (the narrative employs a time jump of two, and later 3 years) in the name of survival. The final narrative jump occurs at the open of the third and closing act of the epic. With this skip, we are whisked five thousand years into the future to learn of the state of the human race, after decisions made by Earth's survivors has seemingly played out. Part three is speculative fiction at its core, and there is a wonderful blend of physics, art, and development at play while Stephenson shows off some of his strongest world-building to date.
Seveneves was published in 2015 by William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins. The cover is matte black with an embossed "NS7e" centered on the front. The elbow of the book is royal blue with black text. The title is diplayed in all lowercase ("seveneves"), whereas author and publisher are displayed in all caps. The front cover interior has a schematic of "Izzy" circa year 0, complete with artist renderings of the Cloud Ark system. The rear cover interior has a gorgeous artist rendering of █████, which - given all we learn in part ███ - is really pretty ██████, ███ ███, and ███████.
"Got what?” Pete Starling asked, over the video link. “Am I missing something?”
“No,” Dinah said. “We are just proceeding adaptively to leverage our core competencies.”
Stephenson is occasionally guilty of both the infodump and telling instead of showing. He does both in this novel - it's 861 pages before he gets to acknowledgments. I can forgive these small sins, because the simple inciting event (the moon explodes!) is easy to extrapolate, the characters are identifiable and relatable, and the speculative processes and designs of Stephenson's distant future are thought engrossing and imminently plausible. While my enjoyment of the novel might be colored by my academic background, both technical and laypersons should appreciate the tone and tenor with which Stephenson presents his lofty ideas. While the book itself is hefty, the reading goes by quickly with a balanced blend of dialogue, exposition, and action. I consider this novel to be a strong recommendation, though - for readers new to Neal Stephenson and his work - I might suggest first contact via Snow Crash or The Diamond Age
Also by Neal Stephenson:
Reamde | Anathem | The Baroque Cycle: Quicksilver, The Confusion, The System of the World | Cryptonomicon | The Diamond Age | Snow Crash | Zodiac