Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds [Book Review]

This was a surprise for me, Terminal world is different in tone from what I can remember from other works by Alastair Reynolds and the futuristic steampunky setting is something else to. I think steampunk is the new black. From what I read lately a lot of writing talent goes into the new brass genre.

Terminal world is something unusual, an earth that consists of zones that appears to have different natural laws. And the protagonist is an undercover angel on the run from the Celestial Levels. I find I like the world here with its zone sickness when you pass from zone to zone; the different levels of technology in each zone and the whole mystery how the world came from what we have today to what it is here.

I listen to this in audio-book version well narrated by John Lee for Tantor Media but it was the story that caught my interest and made me finish it in a few evenings of listening. The pace is quick and the settings keep changing as the true scope of the mystery becomes revealed. The characters are compelling and their relationships twists to keep us in suspense but I also find I want to know more about them than I am given. The book is well contained and the ending gives good closure but there is more to explore in this world which makes me hope Mr Reynolds will return here.

Terminal World is steam punk with ‘real’ science and a brilliant explanation will be given by the end of the story. I am still thinking about the characters and the big idea here, two weeks after finishing the book.


Title: Terminal World

Author: Alastair Reynolds
Genre: Futuristic Steampunk

Audiobook: 19h 45 m
Naration: John Lee
Publisher: Tantor Media

Paperback: 512 pages
Publisher: Gollancz (1st March 2010) | ACE (June 2010)
Copy: Bought from Amazon

Order from: Audible | Amazon US | UK | B&N | sfbok

Spearpoint, the last human city, is an atmosphere-piercing spire of vast size. Clinging to its skin are the zones, a series of semi-autonomous city-states, each of which enjoys a different – and rigidly enforced – level of technology. Horsetown is pre-industrial; in Neon Heights they have television and electric trains …Following an infiltration mission that went tragically wrong, Quillon has been living incognito, working as a pathologist in the district morgue. But when a near-dead angel drops onto his dissecting table, Quillon’s world is wrenched apart one more time, for the angel is a winged posthuman from Spearpoint’s Celestial Levels – and with the dying body comes bad news. If Quillon is to save his life, he must leave his home and journey into the cold and hostile lands beyond Spearpoint’s base, starting an exile that will take him further than he could ever imagine. But there is far more at stake than just Quillon’s own survival, for the limiting technologies of the zones are determined not by governments or police, but by the very nature of reality – and reality itself is showing worrying signs of instability …