In a very near future, the Moon isÂ destroyed, suddenly and without warning. Within a few days, scientists figure out that the seven pieces will impact each other again and again, breaking into ever smaller pieces until after two years the process reaches a sort of critical mass. Then, so many large meteors will impact the Earth’s atmosphere that it will broil, annihilatingÂ all life on Earth in an event named the “Hard Rain”. Desperate measure are implemented to launch as many people as possible into space before the end. It is estimated that it will take 5000 years until the Hard Rain abates and Earth can be made inhabitable again.
Seveneves is a very long novel divided into three parts. Part one details events from the destruction of the Moon to the Hard Rain. Part two chronicles the struggle for survival after the Hard Rain and the nadirÂ of human population, as well as the momentous decisions at this point. Part three jumps five thousand years into the future, with Earth being repopulated and the human race split into seven races. It is an epic story focusing on themes of resilience, survival and most of all what it is that makes us human. What are the traits that make us who we are? What drives us to conflict, cooperation, competition and rationality? Seveneves asks the question: Can suchÂ traits be altered in the human race through genetic tinkering, and what would happen if they were?
In the beginning of part three, there is a feeling of disjointedness with the rest of the story, but after a while this somewhatÂ separate storyÂ with entirely new characters starts feeling like an appropriate bookend to parts one and two, with a perspective onÂ ancient events down the long lens of history, and with the results of the experiment at hand.
The text is litteredÂ with info-dumps, mostly about space technology. Detailed explanations about orbital mechanics and the physics of free-falling chains abound. I personally found thisÂ content veryÂ interesting, but I can understand that not all would. The prose flows easily from page to page, filling the reader withÂ a real desire to find out what willÂ happen on this great odyssey. For it is truly an odyssey, an epic of monumental proportions drawing the entireÂ human race, with all its history and heritage, down to a single point, literallyÂ a single room, and then chronicling its resurgence.