Ron's Reviews > Terminal World

Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds
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Aug 15, 11

bookshelves: science-fiction, apochalypse-or-post
Read from August 10 to 15, 2011

** spoiler alert ** I wanted to give this four stars. Or even three. Engaging idea and good story telling. But Reynolds must have averaged a technical error every other page. It was hard to stay in a story with so many details out of whack.

Reynolds should have ridden in a hot-air balloon--if not a dirigible--before writing a story centered on the care and use of same. "...as the ground cools, we'll lose lift." Really? At four "leagues" (see below) altitude (60,000+ feet!?)in an unpressurized vessel, the crew is occasionally breathing oxygen. No, they're dead.

Folks are all worried about obtaining fuel, but never a word about their source of "sun gas." And yet, without propulsion, one dirigible almost immediately starts to sink because it's losing gas. And there are hundreds of craft in this lighter-than-air fleet. Since it's apparently hydrogen (even though only at the end of the book does it burn) (and they don't have ready supplies of water or electricity) no clue where it comes from. But hundreds of dirigibles--one "half a league" long--have supposedly been floating around for centuries.

Reynolds apparently used "leagues" without reference to the conventional meaning: three miles. Maybe he tossed it in as a convenient undefined-long-distance term. Things happen which only make sense if "leagues" on this non-earth earth are shorter than a statute mile: kilometer or less works best . . . except for how tiny that makes the planet. Sloppy.

He thinks winters at the equator are cooler than summers. Absent monsoon and sea breezes (no seas here), they're not.

"One of the Moon's two halves..." I hope he meant two round moons at half phase, but that's not the way he words it. A hemispherical moon could not maintain that shape long. Anything more than single digit "leagues" would soon assume a spherical shape, especially after hundreds of years. And two of them shouldn't be in stable orbits--much less stable in the same orbit.

That said the whole thing would be more satisfying if the protag weren't so stupid--not to mention being a slow learner. And him an "angel" and a doctor. The female Huck Finn companion was nicely done.

And the story doesn't end so much as taper off to nothing.
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Reading Progress

08/11/2011 page 124
22.0% "Ripping good story; flunked high school physics."
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