Neal Stephenson’s Â latest book, Seveneves, truly rattled me. It’s a masterpiece of story. Â I was listening in audiobook (which is about the only way I can consume fresh fiction right now with my writing/school/work schedule) so I had get it slow. It took fourÂ weeks. If I’d had in in my hands I’d have screwed up my schedulesÂ and just stayed up late every night, so I guess its good I bought it with an Audible credit. Even taken slowly, the book woke me up at night more than once â€” I’d be processing some bit of story in my hindbrain and it would shock me awake, and a few times even get me out of bed to think about it. There are huge stakes in this book, true heroes, and a also a series of believable characters full of human flaws and frailty.
SevenEves isÂ “On the Beach” crossed with something more hopeful, a story of space and transhumanism, of transcendence and resilience. Gosh, that almost sounds like I’m writing a blurb! But that’s what it felt like to read it. Remade is still on my too-read list and couldn’t ever get into the Baroque Cycle, but I’ve loved everything other novel ofÂ Stephenson’s. For me,Â this one isÂ the best since Snow Crash. As a warning, it borders on horror. Not the usual horrorÂ fair of machetes and mean men or nasty supernatural enemies, but the true horror of a scaryÂ situation.
There is a lot of world building. A lot. But I’m a world building geek, and thus perfectly happy to have long descriptions of cool things when they are in good hands (I loved the description of the cathedral in Anathem). That said, Stephenson doesn’t stint on character in this novel – there was plenty of story.
The narration is fabulous. The first part is read by Mary Robinette Kowal, who’s a true pro. I was sad to see it transition to Will Damron, although he did an excellent job as well. I just missed Mary’s voice.
I really can’t say much else without getting into spoilers, but I highly recommend SevenevesÂ and in particular, I suggest picking upÂ the audible version (if you happen to have 31.5 hours in a car or somewhere else to listen to it).
I hope to see thisÂ on our award short lists this year.