Skip to main content




The moon blew up with no warning and with no apparent reason.

With that opening line to SEVENEVES, Neal Stephenson now has your complete attention. Broken into seven pieces, the fragments of the moon become the main talking point across the world. What will become of us? Scientists use their collective brainpower to come to the horrifying conclusion that in just two short years, those pieces of rock will begin to descend earthward in a storm of meteors that will bring life on our planet to an end.

The solution, as one would expect, is to get off the planet. How? Humanity, as a whole, cannot be saved. Decisions must be made. Where do they go? Who is in charge? The International Space Station plays a heavy role as a “Cloud  Ark” --- a modified collection of modules and satellites --- but nothing ever goes as planned. As natural disasters occur with more regularity, as the “Hard Rain” pulverizes the landscape, the mad scramble of humanity to secure its own survival kicks into gear. Scientists endeavor to secure as much of the gene pool as possible, while politicians wrangle and scheme for their own nefarious ends. Even in the face of the ultimate doom, politicians are still the slimiest of creatures. The pieces of broken moon collide together with greater and greater frequency, and as the Earth is turned into a lifeless hellscape of fire and dust, disasters also plague the 2,000 survivors who have been sent to save the human race in space.

"Stephenson masterfully explores the notion of how decisions matter, even little ones, and how they affect everything and everyone. Even at the end of the world."

Now, only seven women --- the seven Eves --- remain.

Stephenson gives us a time shift for the final third of the novel, jumping 5,000 years into the future to show us what has become of the human race. How has this space life continued? What has it produced? The seven Eves have done their part and saved humanity. But was it worth it?

SEVENEVES is an extraordinary work by one of the best minds in hard science fiction today. And make no mistake: the nearly 900 pages of this novel are teeming with science. From the outset, Stephenson is keen on explaining the physics, aerodynamics, living in zero gravity, and every minute detail of the technical wherewithal of the survival pods and the life inside them. There are people involved, of course, but in many respects, they are secondary to the event. Human moments do exist in SEVENEVES. And when Stephenson employs them, they have wonderful emotional payoffs.

As always, Stephenson is a dense writer. SEVENEVES is not a page-turner, which is not to say the book is not exciting or extraordinarily well written. It is both of those things. The fact is, it is so full of detail and tech exploration and explanation that you simply cannot read it at a quickened pace. To try and skim your way through would leave you lost and likely frustrated. You have to settle in. You have to take a deep breath before the plunge and allow yourself to submerge into the story. You will be rewarded.

SEVENEVES sounds like it would be a Michael Bay explodey boom fest of death, mayhem and calamity. A disaster film in book form. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is an end-times novel, a scientific exploration of the doom of man and the struggle to remain relevant, alive, in the wake of desperate odds. And it is done with patience, care and a near-endless stream of technical intelligence. Selfishness and selflessness are both on display, and Stephenson masterfully explores the notion of how decisions matter, even little ones, and how they affect everything and everyone. Even at the end of the world.

Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard on June 19, 2015

by Neal Stephenson