Genre: science fiction
Length: 881 pages
Setting: between the Earth and the Moon, near future and 5,000 years later
Interest: It’s Stephenson’s newest book. I’ve loved several of his other books (like Reamde and Snow Crash) so I knew I’d eventually get around to this one. I had it on my Kindle so it made a good book to read while on vacation.
Summary: One day, without warning, the moon is shattered by an unknown object. Scientists realize that the several large pieces of the moon are going to break up and eventually bombard the Earth, turning everyone on the surface to slag. The governments of the world work together to build as many arklets as possible and send the best and the brightest from each country into space. The International Space Station is modified to be the command center of all the arklets. A series of catastrophes and splinter groups means by the time the ISS and the remaining arklets rendezvous with a chunk of the moon’s core, there are only eight women (seven of them fertile) left alive. With genetics, they develop a new society in space. The last section shows a slice of humanity (and the seven space races that resulted from genetic engineering the offspring of the seven women) as they resettle the surface of the Earth. There is conflict between two groups of Spacers, as well and Diggers and Pingers who survived on Earth.
Final thoughts: An enjoyable book. The first part is very exciting. The Moon explodes and the surface of the Earth will become uninhabitable in a few years. Will humanity survive in space with all of the difficulties that they face? There are lots of technical details provided about how everything would work and what needs to be done (i.e. how and why a group went off to catch a comet), which does slow down the pace of the book at times. I did find the time jump and the new cultures that developed in 5,000 years fascinating. I was happy to see that people survived on Earth, but it did raise several questions in my mind. Like, would everyone, raised in isolation for 5,000, be able to communicate easily with the different groups? I suppose it is possible, since they had recordings and books from the original flight from Earth, but language changes so easily. I also wonder if anyone else would have survived on Earth other than the two groups shown. If you like Stephenson’s books, you’ll probably enjoy this one as well.
Title comes from: By the time the spacefarers got to a safe spot in orbit, there were only seven fertile women left to repopulate humanity.
Reading challenges fulfilled: #40 in my Maybe 100 This Year Challenge, and an S in my author Reading the Alphabet Challenge
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