Neal Stephenson brings apocalyptic sci-fi — minus the dogma — to Tattered Cover

Neal Stephenson stands in a cornfield in Iowa

Neal Stephenson’s often apocalyptic sci-fi fantasies brim with politics. How could they not? With real-life humans perilously close to destroying the world – nukes, climate change, dead oceans, biological warfare and so on – authors who write about the end-times thrust themselves into a necessarily political world.

But Stephenson, who’s coming to Denver Friday, doesn’t see himself as a political writer.

“You never want to have a book turn into a kind of preachy kind of book where you’re grinding a political ax or where readers feel like they’re getting led around by the nose politically,” he says. “I think the best you can do is let the characters be political or apolitical and not try to push any particular agenda.”

The author’s new epic tome, Seveneves, is part of sub-sub-genre of sci-fi called space-arc. “It’s a book where an impending global disaster forces the people of earth to get together and build an arc to space and get a select group of people off of the planet’s surface to safety and about what happens next.”

Seveneves is about inevitable calamity – people facing off with certain global doom and trying to figure out how to survive. It feels inexorably tied to current anxieties about climate change. But he says that wasn’t his intention.

“This is not an effort on my part to create some kind of allegory to the way things really are in the world today. It’s more a tour, a kind of speculative exploration, and an opportunity to tell what I hope people think is a fun and interesting story.”

Stephenson will be reading from Seveneves – which certainly is a fun and interesting story – at The Tattered Cover, 2526 Colfax Ave., Friday night, at 7 p.m.


Photo: From Neal Stephenson’s webiste