The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason.
I do not know how to do justice to a book that starts with the moon exploding, finds a realistic way to try and save the doomed human race, and ends with a ‘five thousand years later…’ part. I mean – wow.
A lot of the strength of this story is what goes unsaid. We see only glimpses of what goes on back on Earth, as we follow the would-be remains of mankind – their survival very far from guaranteed, but with at least a slim hope now denied to some 7+ billion back on the planet. It’s far, far more effective to have so much of the darkness at the periphery. Likewise, while Stephenson follows a fairly large cast of characters, he allows others to go do heroic stuff ‘off screen’ – ramping up the tension without ever becoming melodramatic.
For all it’s such a long book, I rarely found it anything less than gripping. Perhaps it slipped a little in the final section, and the ending seemed a little anti-climatic given the scale of the beginning. It can be a little on the ‘describing all the tech’ side at times, and I could see some people finding some of the diversions into science/mechanics/other tech skirting the edge of dull.
However, the scope of the whole thing is so well done, with so many ideas that I think every reader could have a different revelation. For me: the idea that our ancestors could very well have actual video, not to mention all these blogs, to define history for them in a way so utterly unlike our own ponderings.
Hardback: 867 pages
First published: 2015
Read from 5th-23rd July 2015
My rating: 9/10 – imagination-tastic