Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Terminal World” as Want to Read:
Terminal World
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Terminal World

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  4,865 Ratings  ·  441 Reviews
In the distant future, enforcement agent Quillion is living incognito in the last human city of Spearpoint, working 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 to save the angel's life, Quillion must leave his home and travel into ...more
ebook, 496 pages
Published June 1st 2010 by Ace Books (first published March 15th 2010)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Terminal World, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Terminal World

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
David Sven
Take a Bladerunner city setting, in the middle of a Mad Max wasteland, throw in a whole heap of Steampunk elements, and maybe a touch of Dark Tower – and still arguably qualify as hard scifi – and you have Terminal World.

This story is different to Reynolds other works in that none of it happens in space – and of course it is in Reynolds words, a “steampunk-influenced” novel. So it’s not really a Space Opera, nor would I categorize it as Steampunk proper. I’m going to call it “Steam Opera.” In an
May 11, 2014 Carol. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sci-fi fans
Terminal World is my first Alastair Reynolds, a science-fiction writer known for galaxy-spanning space operas, and has a plot and tone pretty much the opposite of space opera:

“Meroka, meet Doctor Quillon,’ Fray said. ‘He is, as you correctly surmised, the new package. I’ve just been telling him you you’re going to do such an excellent job of getting him out of Spearpoint.’

‘Hope you told him it isn’t going to be no joyride… Looking at three hard days to get you out, if all goes to plan, which mos
Apr 03, 2011 Felicia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, steampunk
I dunnnnno. I am in love with "House of Suns", the other book I've read by this author, so I went into this with high expectations. I honestly didn't understand a lot of what was going on, the world was so confusing, it seemed to contradict itself SO MUCH as time went on. I found it extremely hard to finish, and I was always confused, and the main character was just MEH. I hate to give negative reviews, but I loved House of Suns SO MUCH I really wanted this to be as absorbing and raveful, and it ...more
Jul 16, 2014 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an exciting science fiction story with a steam-punk flavor. I like the book because first, it is not transparent to the reader what is about to happen next and second, it is filled with unusual ideas and concepts that are not seen in other stories of this genre. A number of groups of "people" are quite unlike others in the literature; the macabre/terroristic "skull boys", the human-eating "vorg", the airmen in the "swarm", and the "mad machines" bring a variety of personalities--many of ...more
Jan 23, 2015 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2015
5 Stars

Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds is a science fiction and steampunk blast of an adventure. Alastair Reynolds is one of my very favorite authors today. Normally he writes intelligent, hard science space operas that tend not to be easy reads. Terminal World is not one of those novels. This is an adventure that takes place in an incredible post apocalyptic world. The novel appears to takes place on earth. Much of the story is set on the city of Spearpoint, a massively huge tower that is e
Mark Hebwood
This is the second book in Alastair's "Terminal" trilogy. The first instalment, "Terminal Soul", tells the story of how the schism amongst the angels, the most advanced society in the technologically zoned city of Spearpoint, culminates in a plot to infiltrate the lower civilisations in that vast metropolis and establish hegemonial rule. "Terminal World" picks up where "Terminal Soul" left off, and after a few pages of "previously on 'Terminal'"-type exposition, launches into a densely told adve ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 09, 2012 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I broadly enjoyed reading this book, but my big gripe is that the story just stops, in the middle of dramatic events, without explaining what happens to the characters, without explaining the real nature of the world - in particular the "zones" which limit technology and make up the entire premise of the book. There are vague hints, which is fine, but much of it is left entirely unexplained, including the fate of the protagonists. It's written as if there was supposed to be a sequel, but Reynold ...more
Feb 03, 2014 julio rated it liked it
fun, fun, fun.

it's a noir mystery set in a wyrd, steampunky alternate universe...

...until you get to a nicer part of town.

the one with electricity.

imaginative and engaging.

this is how to have your sci-fi—and get your steampunk, too.

Jul 30, 2014 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fallen angels, Skull-boys, post-apocalyptic zeppelin captains
Alastair Reynolds has impressed me with his intellectual sorta-hard-SF space operas, but left me a bit cold in terms of characters and storytelling, the grand scope of his plots dwarfing the human elements. He's a bit like a colder Charles Stross who is not trying quite as hard as Stross does to impress you with his cleverness, even though he's very clever.

Terminal World is a departure from his usual space operas - it's set on one world, that vaguely resembles Earth but isn't, in a post-apocalyt
Mark Cheverton
Jul 15, 2011 Mark Cheverton rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I've enjoy reading Reynolds space opera, even though they do tend to all blur into one book, however his latest novel is a departure from the usual spaceship chasing galaxy spanning stuff. This is much more of a steampunk book, veering a little into fantasy - not necessarily a bad thing, but not what people may be expecting.

Two things really let this book down for me; firstly I just couldn't find the characters motivations believable, particularly the main character of the doctor who's obsession
Terminal World was one of my top 5 expected novels of 2010 and it was good but not awesome and the weakest novel I read from Mr. Reynolds as execution goes - I did not like The Prefect and Century Rain as much as the others mainly because I thought the mystery/thriller part in each was too detrimental to the sense of wonder part, but they were well done overall, while Terminal World reads like a draft that needs a lot of editing and tightening. When heroes discuss/declaim before shooting the vil ...more

In Terminal World Reynolds brings something more different from his usual space opera stories as in this on he has managed to combine a post-apocalyptic, steampunk world along with angels, hybrid robots and much more, into an entertaining story with lots of action and some pretty good twists.

In a destroyed Earth in the far future Spearpoint is the last human city; a city so tall that each level is separated to different societies, with some having food, medicine and electricity, while othe
Jun 14, 2010 Robert rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
This is easily Reynolds' weakest novel to-date. It opens with one of Neal Stephenson's favourite technical crimes - a protagonist switch. Grrr! It would have been more difficult to pull off but the novel could have opened with the intended main protagonist finding an angel on his pathology bench. Instead there is a long scene from the point of view of two characters who are never heard from again - and you know from the outset that they are going to disappear once they've delivered the angel. So ...more
David Hebblethwaite
It’s more-or-less exactly a year since I read an Alastair Reynolds novel for the first time, and now here I am, looking at his latest book. Once again, I had a great time reading him – though I can’t shake the feeling I like the idea of Terminal World (and here I’m referring to the underlying structure of the story, rather than the novel’s setting, which is a fine creation) more than I like how that idea plays out in actuality.

At some point in the future, after even the word ‘science’ has been f
One would think, in a sci-fi adventure, involving many chase scenes and travel sequences through an ever-changing landscape constantly fraught with danger for a ragtag group of protagonists, that it would not be possible for a story to be stuffy and dry. And yet it is in this book. The premise is fascinating, a far future (on Mars) where technology works to a varying degree depending on location, and human lifespans are much shorter. (Or the Martian year is longer. People are also way taller.) I ...more
Jul 20, 2011 Jim rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I did manage to finish this one. Alastair Reynolds is a very imaginative writer, certainly, but sometimes he comes up with a situation that just seems completely unworkable to me. There was the ice world with gigantic cathedrals trundling around and around, and now this: a future Earth with mysterious, shifting "zones" where different levels of technology suddenly cease to work.

Okay, so some people live on the side of this mysterious gigantic black artificial mountain, Spearpoint, which h
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
This was a long read for me, but ultimately enjoyable. A good mix of steampunk and rustic science fiction, with a different twist on angels.

Reviewed for Bitten by Books.

Luke Burrage

Full review on my podcast, SFBRP #133.
Jan 20, 2017 thefourthvine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff, far-future, airships
This book is a weird, weird read. I'm pretty sure there's two ways to read this. One is pretty much as a fantasy novel, with airships and odd magic and everything, and one is as a science fiction novel. But to read it as science fiction, you have to be able to figure out the (extremely speculative) science behind this on your own; no one in the book knows all of it, and the vast majority know none of it. It's odd to read a science fiction book that leaves the science as an exercise for the reade ...more
Apr 03, 2012 Woodge rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, steampunk
This is a steampunk novel from an author known for SF. In the towering city of Spearpoint, Quillon is working as a pathologist in the district morgue. When a winged angel from the Celestial Levels ends up on his dissection table, it starts a chain of events that causes Quillon to embark on a journey into the hostile lands beyond Spearpoint. The main conceit at play is that the world (and Spearpoint) is divided into several different zones in which only certain kinds of technology can exist. Trav ...more
I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical at first. Reynolds is so very well known for sweeping space opera that to crack open a book and be confronted with an angel (though he's not what you think!) is rather disconcerting. In fact, I think I had determined not to like the book. And we see where that's gotten me.

The story follows Quillon, an angel modified to live among humans. You see, it's not just a separation of heaven and earth--these people don't have that theology. They follow the Zones
Jul 07, 2011 Iain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reynolds does steampunk, and it's not half bad.

In fact, theoretically the tech level in 'Terminal World' varies from primitive muscle power to extremely advanced computers according to which 'zone' you occupy. But (minor spoiler) in practice the action takes place almost wholly in zones that allow technology such as airships and machine-guns, but nothing more complex, so the 'feel' is very much of a steampunk novel (albeit with a strong noir influence early on).

The plot twists and turns, someti
Brendan Ellis
If there's one thing that Alastair Reynolds is great at it's imagining strange and fantastic worlds which are like nothing you've ever thought about before yet still remain believable. I've not read all his books yet but so far Terminal World has been the most crazy world. The problem Reynolds has sometimes is telling a story within these worlds. It's like he doesn't always plan ahead and really know where the story is going from the beginning. This sometimes leaves the endings pretty weak. I al ...more
John Boettcher
Dec 19, 2012 John Boettcher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my least favorite Reynolds book, if there can be such as thing! I don't know, it just seemed to move slower than many of his other books and it took quite some time for the plot line to play itself out.

Another fact is that I read this immediately after reading "House of Suns" which is probably one of my favorite syfy books of all time and I suggest anyone and everyone to read that book.

The concept of Terminal World and the characters in it are both fascinating and vast. The changes bet
Aug 20, 2010 Christopher rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sf-2010
Reynolds takes a great idea and torments it with poor pacing, microscopic observations of ordinary action, a physicist's sense of emotion, and a fizzled ending that sets up a sequel I will certainly not be reading.

The premise is akin to Anderson's Brain Wave or Vinge's Zones of Thought novels, but in this case, locally varying physics yields post-humans in one area, a few regions with lesser grades of technology, and a steampunk post-apocalypse most everywhere else.

The plot offers a grand tour
Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
What an excellent story! The pundits call it "steampunk" and I suppose it is that - more importantly, it is a mystery. A mystery lies at the soul of the tale; how did things become so strange. Initially we are thrown into a slightly futuristic era; a body is found; an angel. Before long we are thrown headlong into a thrilling pursuit and a world of mysterious "levels" where technologies begin to die and life becomes a little more brutal. This tale has Homeric qualities - like all good tales it i ...more
Mar 05, 2014 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I like the very slightly steampunkish world Al Reynolds created in this novel. There's lots to chew due to a wide variety of characters and motivations. The plot was well paced and not rushed to tie all loose ends at the end of the novel, although in typical AR fashion there is no lack of detailed descriptions that make the book about twice as long as it needs to be.
Nov 30, 2014 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terminal World is the story of Quillon, who lives in a world divided by zones, where the laws of physics are slightly different and different levels of technology work in each zone. Some zones allow only steam and clockwork contraptions, others allow circuitry and computer networks, and still others allow far beyond what Earth has today. A few zones don't even allow life, but even those that do, are optimized for those already born to it... crossing a zone boundary is hazardous, sometimes even f ...more
Kate Sherrod
Dec 15, 2010 Kate Sherrod rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fans of Alastair Reynolds Revelation Space series and his other vastly atmospheric space operas are in for a bit of a surprise in his latest novel, which owes more to China Mieville's Bas-Lag books and Jack Vance's Dying Earth stories than to the Clarke/Asimov tradition.

That doesn't mean it's bad, though -- far from it! While the lingering disappointment that there will be no hyperspace chase scenes or stars being sung apart via mind-bogglingly ancient and malign intelligences never wholly leave
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Question About Content 3 11 Nov 28, 2014 06:33AM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: Terminal World - April 2014 7 36 Apr 30, 2014 08:27AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Missing Cover on 9780575084933 3 44 Sep 12, 2011 10:16PM  
  • Shadow of the Scorpion (Polity Universe #2)
  • Incandescence
  • The Temporal Void
  • Learning the World: A Scientific Romance
  • Souls in the Great Machine (Greatwinter Trilogy, #1)
  • The Light Ages (The Aether Universe, #1)
  • The New Space Opera 2: All-new stories of science fiction adventure
  • Full Steam Ahead
Alastair Reynolds, former scientist and now full-time writer. Most of what he writes is science fiction, with a strong concern for scientific verisimilitude (although he is prepared to break the rules for the sake of a good story). He has lived in England, Scotland and the Netherlands where he worked as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency until 2004, but now makes his home back in his ...more
More about Alastair Reynolds...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“A city's only ever three hot meals away from anarchy.” 91 likes
“At one time, the treatment for a certain kind of psychosis had been to push an ice pick up through the orbit of the eye, into the frontal lobe; the ice pick was then stirred around until it reduced the problematic brain tissue to non-functioning porridge.” 7 likes
More quotes…