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Terminal World by [Reynolds, Alastair]
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Terminal World Kindle Edition

3.1 out of 5 stars 122 customer reviews

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Length: 496 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

[A] wildly imaginative genre stretcher. {Reynolds] tells his tale with such verve that you just keep turning the pages. (Nevill Hawcock FINANCIAL TIMES)

A rousing adventure in a widly original setting. (Eric Brown THE GUARDIAN)

This is sci-fi as an intellectual balancing act. We're offered airborne battles and plenty of action too. It's almost the most convincing steampunk novel you'll ever read. (Jonathan Wright SFX)

There are flashes of the energy that drives the big sequences in the Revelation Space trilogy. (Maureen Kincaid Speller INTERZONE)

Book Description

TERMINAL WORLD is a snarling, drooling, crazy-eyed mongrel of a book: equal parts steampunk, western, planetary romance and far-future SF.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1405 KB
  • Print Length: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (15 Mar. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003FXCSVI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars 122 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #129,549 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have to say that I strongly disagree with the rather indifferent reviews of this book posted so far. I have read all of Reynolds' books to date and this makes a strong claim to be his best.

For starters, and almost incidentally, it is the best steampunk novel I have read. Reynolds produces a plausible plot device for examining a society trapped at a particular technological point, and his steam or dieselpunk technology is grittily plausible and realistic, not a series of fashion accessories or nostalgic anachronisms, as is all too common in this genre.

Secondly, this book requires a bit of intellectual effort on the part of the reader. The reader is required to use some imagination and to draw inferences and make conclusions from tiny nuggets of fact dropped into the characters' conversations. The book contains no "infodumps". The true nature of Spearpoint is not spelled out directly, even at the end of the novel. An observant reader will fairly quickly come to a huge revelation about the nature of Spearpoint's world which never becomes remotely obvious to any of the characters involved. One particularly ironic point is the existence of a quasi-religious "Testament", which most of the characters dismiss as mythological, but the more objective viewpoint of the reader can see is largely historical fact about the planet's history.

There are also some excellent action scenes, particularly a desperate airship assault on the city in the face of progressive technological failures, reducing the crew from machine guns and diesel engines to cutlasses and crossbows in the space of ten minutes. The characters are excellent, particularly a foul mouthed bodyguard heroine.

If you like your SF one-dimensional and spoon fed to you as easily digestible gloop, this book probably isn't for you. If you are willing to use your intellect and your imagination to fill in the tantalising gaps left by the author you will be amply rewarded.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I actually enjoyed this book right up until the end where it just sort of stopped. I had guessed that it might, because the very nature of the characters and the setting meant that there could be no meaningful "eureka" conclusion and explanation, which I know is often a good plot device but in this case just left me feeling annoyed.

The world has gone wrong because an important piece of transport technology (stargate style? noone knows) was partly destroyed and/ or interfered with by aliens/ an alien intelligence? which has created weird zones that have slight but importantly different physical constants.

A solution to the problem is guessed at in the form of a child that is capable of controlling the misbehaving machinery and the story revolves around getting here back to the heart of the problem.

They get her there (via numerous trials & tribulations) and then it ends. The story was fine but I just felt it needed more at the end.

Hmm...
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Format: Hardcover
The galaxy of `literary' science-fiction is a relatively small one, but its brightest star by far is Alastair Reynolds. 'Terminal World' offers a highly original narrative, characters that are morally and psychologically complex and, best of all, a story that is told through accomplished and sophisticated writing. Reynolds' seemingly effortless prose is abundant with creative, diverse metaphors, witty dialogue and acute situational observations; factors which are so often lacking in science-fiction writing.

Then again, to even call 'Terminal World' a Sci-fi novel is to be brash with genre assumptions. The book is devoid of spaceships, aliens, other planets; in fact, it's without any of the defining tropes of science-fiction. The crux of the novel is the atmosphere-piercing city of Spearpoint - a towering metropolis divided into the `zones' - layers of the city each with their own technological limitations. Thus the base of Spearpoint (horse town) is almost medieval; the next layer (steamville) is early-industrial in its scope. The `zones' advance in this way until the city's very highest `Celestial' levels, in which winged post-humans manipulate nano technology and can cure any ailment. The technology of the `zones' isn't enforced by governments or clerics, but by the nature of reality itself in this far-future vision of Earth.
This plot device enables Reynolds to enjoy an unusual amount of freedom in terms of setting and characterisation. 'Terminal World' is very odd sci-fi; a smorgas-board convergence of steampunk, fantasy, planetary romance... the novel even borrows from pirate, naval and military genres.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The plot background of technological zones is intriguing and fairly original (the Well of Souls series probably pre-empted it, amongst others). However quite a few gaping plotholes spoil the enjoyment - in particular the "Skullboys" who appear as omnipresent Mad-max bandits but have no obvious origin or continuity - what do they eat?, where do new ones come from?, why do they bother attacking people?, the civilisation is supposedly stable rather than immediately post-apocalypse so these questions need to be answered to make the novel hang together. Overall, passable to read on a train to pass time but definitely not something to file in the read-again category.
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