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I am looking for the title of a novel that I only caught part of on audio. It takes place within our current time frame and deals with the Moon getting struck and fragmented into (initially) 7 pieces by a high-speed asteroid that they called "The Agent".

Within a few weeks of this episode, scientists figure out the the Moon will continue to break down in a cascade reaction over the next couple of years until the planet gets bombarded by so much debris that it sterilizes Earth. The governments of the world frantically start to build a series of ships using swarming concepts to evacuate the planet as much as possible... and that's all I have heard so far.

Thanks for any info.

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

This is Neal Stephenson's Seveneves - all quotes here are from the first 35 pages; pages 3-108 are available on Amazon as a free sampler. It made Time's "Top 10 Fiction Books of 2015".

It takes place within our current time frame 

The exact start date is not laid out in our year format:

The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason. It was waxing, only one day short of full. The time was 05:03:12 UTC. Later it would be designated A+0.0.0, or simply Zero.

However, the ISS as described in the book is reasonably close to the level of technology we have today, enough so that it's reasonable to say it happens today. None of the technology described greatly exceeds current (2016) levels.

deals with the Moon getting struck and fragmented into (initially) 7 pieces

In any case, the result was that, first, the moon was fractured into seven large pieces, as well as innumerable smaller ones.

by a high-speed asteroid that they called "The Agent".

The root cause was unknown - probably not an asteroid; the theory mentioned as leading was a "primordial black hole" passing through at high velocity. But it was called the Agent:

In a sword-fighting drill, where one participant is going to mount an attack and the other is to respond in some way, the attacker is known as the agent and the respondent is known as the patient. The agent acts. The patient is passive. In this case an unknown Agent acted upon the moon. The moon, along with all the humans living in the sublunary realm, was the passive recipient of that action.

scientists figure out the the Moon will continue to break down
in a cascade reaction over the next couple of years until the
planet gets bombarded by so much debris that it sterilizes Earth.

"We'll see an increasing number of meteorite impacts. Some will cause great damage. But overall, life is not going to change that much. But then" - he clicked again, and the plot bent sharply upward, turning white - "we are going to witness an event that I am calling the White Sky. It'll happen over hours, or days. The system of discrete planetoids that we can see up there now is going to grind itself up into a vast number of much smaller fragments. They are going to turn into a white cloud in the sky, and that sky is going to spread out...

"A day or two after the White Sky event will begin a thing I am calling the Hard Rain.... It is going to be a meteorite bombardment such as the earth has not seen since the primordial age, when the solar system was formed," Doob said. "Those fiery trails we've been seeing lately, as the meteorites come in and burn up? There will be so many of those that they will merge into a dome of fire that will set aflame anything that can see it. The entire surface of the earth is going to be sterilized. Glaciers will boil. The only way to survive is to get away from the atmosphere. Go underground, or go into space."

The governments of the world frantically start to build a series of 
ships using swarming concepts to evacuate the planet as much as possible...

"We are beginning to talk to our counterparts in other spacefaring nations about creating an ark," the president said. "A repository of the entire genetic heritage of the Earth. We have two years to build it. Two years to get as many people and as much equipment as we can into orbit. The nucleus of that ark is going to be [the ISS]"

and

"You want to use swarming behavior in the Ark?"

"The proposal is called the Cloud Ark," the president cut back in. "And you have it correct. Rather than putting all our eggs in one basket-....we will take a distributed architecture."

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+1 "Top 10 Fiction Books of 2015". Not just Top 10 Science Fiction Books. – GEdgar Jan 28 at 1:04
    
Stephenson... what a surprise! It seems to be moving a lot faster than his past books have (except for Snow Crash, maybe). Thanks for your detailed answer. – Rodger Cooley Jan 28 at 19:36

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

You have neatly and accurately summarized the basic plot set up.

enter image description here

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1  
Link-only answers are generally frowned upon. Can you describe why the plotline matches the plot described in the question? – Valorum Jan 27 at 18:07
5  
@Richard unless it's a Zelda-universe answer. Then Link only answers are totally accepted. – corsiKa Jan 27 at 21:20

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