Krig's Reviews > Terminal World

Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds
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Oct 12, 11

Read from September 22 to October 12, 2011

A huge disappointment.

Everything I loved about the Revelation Space trilogy and House of Suns is there in Terminal World as well, but none of it works. The universe of Terminal World is incredibly ambitious, but the uniqueness of the setting seems to have overwhelmed Reynolds who gets stuck in world building and long-winded exposition, and completely forgets to develop the characters or the plot along with it.

The book reads like a draft with plot points clumsily jammed together. I suspect that the unfamiliar setting is the underlying cause of these issues. In the space operas, Reynolds felt confident to let the world be revealed along with the plot. In Terminal World, the plot is there only as a vehicle for world exposition. Elements that felt natural in the space operas feel out of place here. In the space operas, all the major characters were owners or operators of star ships, and so the obsession with ship names felt natural. Here, the main character is a city doctor, making those moments clumsy and ill-fitting.
The main character has lived for years in the city, yet is completely unfamiliar with even the most basic concepts. It is a shame, because the world itself is fascinating and unique.

I get the feeling that Reynolds should have shelved this book and written a second novel set in the same universe. In that way, he could have gotten over the need to explain everything about the world and gotten down to actually telling a compelling story.
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