Terminal World

Terminal World

Book - 2010
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In a far distant future, an enforcement agent named Quillon has been living incognito in the last human city of Spearpoint, working as a pathologist in the district morgue. But when a near-dead angel drops onto his dissecting table, his world is wrenched apart. For the angel is a winged posthuman from Spearpoint's Celestial Levels, and with the dying body comes bad news--to save the angel's life, Quillon must leave his home and travel into the cold and hostile lands beyond the city.
Publisher: New York : Ace Books, 2010
Edition: Ace hardcover ed
ISBN: 9780441018666
0441018661
Branch Call Number: SCIENCE FICTION Reynolds
Characteristics: 487 p. ; 24 cm

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SCL_Justin Jul 23, 2017

Terminal World is another one of these Alastair Reynolds books that reminds me why I read him sporadically. There are neat science fictiony adventurous ideas in his books but the writing makes me clench my teeth. No one behaves in a neurotypical fashion: everyone’s dialogue is clichés or exposition-speak. It feels more like the transcription of a bunch of socially-awkward 14-year-olds role-playing. Which is a shame because the plot and setting would be pretty spiffy if it was described by someone with a bit of flair for language.

It’s thousands of years in the future, on what appears to be Mars, even though everyone calls it Earth (I think that’s supposed to be clever, to show that they’ve forgotten they were once colonists). In the giant spire city of Spearpoint there are different zones of technology, from the Celestial levels where the angels who can fly and are filled with nanotech live, down to Neon Heights and Horse Town. These zones aren’t just stylistic; the rules of physics are different in each zone, making the technology from a higher zone cease to function in lower ones. It’s a pretty clever idea that gets developed as the story goes on, and is a good excuse for energy weapons and dirigibles to coexist.

Quillon is on the run from the angels so he’s heading out of Spearpoint for a while. He has a guide and they rescue a woman and child who will “change the world forever” (of course). There’s nothing really surprising that happens in the book. And the prose is boring. But it would make a pretty good RPG setting to play in.

w
WomanOfMystery
Feb 16, 2012

I consider this a Steampunk novel - and for me it has some of the drawbacks I find in many novels of this genre. Some of the main characters are just not that sympathetic. That being said, I quickly became caught up in the plot and found time in my day to see what would happen next.
My biggest disappointment is that the plot left me hanging. Tthe main plot line was unresolved so I guess I have to search for a sequel. The airship pilots and the sub-plots around their culture were the best part of this novel for me. I hope Reynolds continues their story.

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