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Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds
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Mar 20, 11

Read from March 06 to 19, 2011

This is the first novel I read by Alastair Reynolds. Except for an interesting science-fiction plot, I didn't have any expectations. I saw his name mentioned a couple of times in other blogs. So I thought I give it a try.

"Terminal World" takes place on a future Earth. The world is split into different zones which have different effects on organic and an-organic life forms. In some zones, electronics can work. In other zones only less complex machines like steam machines work. Or there are zones where no technology works at all.
Similar problems exist for humans and animals. There are zones where no life at all can exist. And there are zones where only further developed humans can exist. They are called angels and live in a higher-technology-zone.
This is the world Alastair Reynolds invites you in to follow the protagonist along his way.
The story starts in Spearpoint, a city built into the structure of a gigantic tower which reaches high into the sky. And with high, I mean stratosphere high. The city is divided into quarters, defined by the zone borders. The zones are laid out like broken glass splinters after someone drove a spear into a mirror. Some zones are large, some are small. Their borders are invisible to the eye, but whoever comes close to one feels the physical impact.
I find this to be a fascinating world, and any kind of story would be interesting as long as it takes place in this world.

The impression I got from the book is that it's about the world, not about the people. All the characters are only there to explore the story world. The world is the main protagonist. Everyone else is only reacting to things happening to the world. If the world wouldn't start to change, none of the appearing characters would lead a different life.

I like this book, because of the story world. What I don't like and what threw me off while reading are some scenes where characters just talked to give the reader information. It was done in a way that it was a too visible exposition for my taste. I can't list any examples without giving away spoilers, so I won't do it.

However let me try to explain what I mean. When person A says he doesn't believe that person B has some power, and when person A later tells person C all about this power and explains how important it is and what has to be done while I as the reader haven't seen any internal monolog or other kind of development that showed how person A changed his mind or got all this knowledge, then this behaviour is simply not convincing to me.
Things like this happened a few times, and it really annoyed me. Also there was at least one scene which felt too much like "deus ex machina", because the foreshadowing wasn't sufficient.

Despite of these formal issues and the fact that I didn't like the protagonist, because his naivety and behaviour annoyed me most of the time, I still recommend this book to anyone interested in science-fiction.
The world is worth taking a look at, and if Reynolds would write a sequel to this book to explore the creation of the zones and actually explain why the world is as it is, I would buy and read it.

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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by Esteban (new)

Esteban You think this book is about the world, and yet you missed the whole this-is-not-Earth-but-Mars thing.

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