I've very happily worked my way through the Revelation series (and Chasm City) in print and was looking forward to something new from the author. Where the Revelation series was special this book is average at best. What really hurt, though, was the narrator. First impressions were that he has a great voice -- strong and well-spoken. Unfortunately his strength of voice and matter-of-fact style of reading overpowers any nuance that should come through in the words and sentences. This dooms the book (aided by the writing to some extent) to sound like simply a dry reading of events rather than providing any sense of tension or drama.
I'm a great fan of Reynolds and have read/listened to most of his books. So it was with great anticipation that I downloaded Terminal World. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, but the narration was a distraction. The narrator's use of regional accents from around the UK (and a couple of other countries) became so annoying at times I almost gave up. I could understand the use of these accents in a story set in the UK of the near future, but in the context of this story it just struck a discordant note. Perhaps a more nuanced tone to distinguish between characters would have been more believable.
Having said that, I would still recommend Terminal World as a captivating and enjoyable listen, and worth the credit.
Alastair Reynolds is a great author. He's got a clean, concise style to all the books I've read from him. You shouldn't believe in the universe of this novel, but you do. I hate that he's probably smarter than I will ever be.
I would carefully examine the reviews. This is the first "miss" for me out of 9 novels that I have read by Reynolds all of which were excellent.
I would hesitate to highlight the numerous annoyances of this novel because there are likely many people to whom these would not matter ... unless pointed out. To me "Terminal World" is such an inferior book compared to Reynold's other works, filled with grating contrivances and a completely unsatisfactory ending. I find it shocking that this was published in 2010 with numerous better books behind him, so the shortfalls cannot be put down to a lack of experience, but I suspect more to laziness.
Do not make this your first Alastair Reynolds book.
This book ranks in my top 20 SF reads.
Cutter. This guy is tuff, determined and smart.
Yes, John Lee is great.
no, but it made me dream.
I don't often post a wordy review. So when I do, I really felt it was important!
Reynolds creates a fantastic sort of world, with all sorts of questions and concepts to keep me thinking far /outside/ of the book.
I've no problems with his characterizations, and enjoyed the progression the main character made over time - but that having been said, the real strength of this book in my mind is the progression through the world itself, new, mysterious lands, ideas, and concepts.
Through it all, a solid level of tension pervades, and I don't think think any portion felt like a real lull. The ending is both incomplete and complete - that is to say, you can see the direction things will go after the conclusion, and even envisage another book, but it might not be necessary, and can stand on it's own.
That having been said, I'll note I'm very comfortable with Reynold's style, and have more or less ended up binging on everything he's published recently! John Lee seems the perfect sci-fi narrator to me, perhaps because of prior experience - but I've developed a deep fondness for his voice over time, and this book is no exception.
Artist and Game Designer
Reynolds does a great job creating an interesting world. I hope he continues to write about it, but even if he does not I found the book quite satisfying and great imagination fuel.
You can tell the Author had alot of fun with this one, and it was a nice change of pace from the big scope hard sci-fi that he does normally.
If you're looking for good escapism/science fiction/fantasy I'd be pretty surprised if you were disappointed.
Tell us about yourself!
Terminal World can best be described as Alastair Reynolds marginally successful attempt to tap into the popularity of steam-punk SF. Perhaps the sub-genre itself is to blame since, in order for steam-punk to work properly within the context of science fiction story, one must forego a reliance on hard scientific explanations. This is the essential flaw in Terminal World – a deep dive into what is essentially a shallow pool. Reynold’s effort to explain his multi-layered, deeply historical, steam-punk world just doesn’t work most of the time and for every explanation he seems to raise a dozen questions that go unanswered so that by the time the novel concluded I was left scratching my head, wondering if I should expect a sequel to answer all these questions despite the fact that this felt very much like a standalone novel. The complex, often confusing world is the setting for a very common tale – a mysterious stranger goes on a quest and happens across a girl who is more than what she seems and could be the key the future of Terminal World. The hero’s quest is quite straightforward and doesn’t stray too far from the standard fantasy plot from which it draws inspiration. Despite its flaws, Reynold’s still has a knack for developing interesting, unique characters and this novel is no exception. The action sequences are spot on and despite the burden of scientific exposition the novel actually moves along quite nicely. Of all Reynold’s work this is easily his weakest and I would only suggest it for serious fans of the author. John Noble’s narration takes some getting used to.
Yes - I preferred the audio version of this book!
Yes - most of them. He is uniformly great at developing character's voices and bringing them to life. It does take a few paragraphs to get used to his slightly Scottish (?) accent and the low timbre of his voice, but you quickly get used to it, and then you realize how really fabulous a narrator he is. His reading adds to, rather than detracts from, the author's work.
This is a bit off the beaten path for Alistair Reynolds - more of a "steampunk" covered-wagon era technology novel set in a post-apocolyptic "Earth" (which I think is actually Mars, but not explicitly stated as such). The ending begs for a sequel, but I have read that Mr. Reynolds has no plans for one so that will be a disappointment.