Terminal World, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (5 ratings)


Spearpoint, the last human city, is an atmosphere-piercing spire of vast size.

Clinging to its skin are the zones, a series of semi-autonomous city-states, each of which enjoys a different - and rigidly enforced - level of technology.

Horsetown is pre-industrial; in Neon Heights they have television and electric trains ...Following an infiltration mission that went tragically wrong, Quillon has been living incognito, working as a pathologist in the district morgue.

But when a near-dead angel drops onto his dissecting table, Quillon's world is wrenched apart one more time, for the angel is a winged posthuman from Spearpoint's Celestial Levels - and with the dying body comes bad news. If Quillon is to save his life, he must leave his home and journey into the cold and hostile lands beyond Spearpoint's base, starting an exile that will take him further than he could ever imagine.

But there is far more at stake than just Quillon's own survival, for the limiting technologies of the zones are determined not by governments or police, but by the very nature of reality - and reality itself is showing worrying signs of instability ...


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Science fiction
  • ISBN: 9780575088504

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Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews.

Review by

Too many loose ends. Great buildup, bad ending.

Review by

Far from Reynolds' best. Lacking in the hard science and detailed world building that makes his other SF so thought provoking, but unfortunetly still with the grim and slightly cardboard characters that don't win you around.The basic premise is some future earth mostly deserted, but a last city remains - Spearpoint. As in many of Reynolds' other works this is markedly stratisfied, with the technological elite - genetically altered angels - living in nano-tech heaven at the top, and the steam and horse powered poor living at the bottom. This time around though the stratification is not just socially imposed, but geographically. The very terrain is divided into flexible 'zones' that either will or will not allow technology of a given level to function. Humans crossing from their native zone to anotehr experience discomfort. This can be mitigated with drugs, but only for so long. Later on in the book there is some discussion about what these zones are and how they came to be, but it isn't detailed very well, and is never completely clear to reader. Our hero is an ex-angel now de-modified, and living in the more normal human levels as a doctor. He learns that the angels would like to pick his brains (literally) about life at these levels and decides to leave. Discovering that he is more than unusually naive about the world around him, he explores a bit before being convinced that he should return to the now stricken city to with such aid as he can muster.I loved the opening third or so, before the dr leaves the city. This had all the wonders that Reynolds can describe so well, a noir style city of varied technologies and cultures, a decent mix of murky politics and murky characters, and a healthy dose of intreague as well. Once Quillion (our doctor) left the city though, it all became a little bland. His companions were even more one dimensional than himself, the countryside unvaried, and the mysterious Swarm when we finally get to meet it, equally rushed and uniform. Quillion really didn't seem to be motivated to take the actions that he did, and everyone else including the leader of the Swarm went along far far too easily to be believable. One major failing which jumped out at me is in having characters familiar with higher technologies - such as liquid cryogens- that they've never met or experienced in their lifetimes in low tech zones. On the plus side, the opening is really good, and the rest of the writing is captivating enough, and from many authros wouldn't merit much criticism. Quliion is put into a variety of positions where choosing the best course of action is not easy - best for himself, or the city or a young girl. Such moral quandries do help make the story more than the average dystopian tale. It's only that I know how good Reynolds can be on his best form, that I find this one slightly dissappointing. For those who don't liek hard SF this might be a more accessible entry to Reynolds' work, but to me it mostly feels like prequel, only without any of the surrounding series information that makes sense of it all. The ending is left somewhat ambiguous, so that scope for a sequel is left open - but I hope not.

Review by

Good read - seems like he decided to put a far-future hard science gloss on steampunk.

Review by

The difference between a good book and a great book is sometimes just a little more patience and time rewriting it. The sf ideas in this novel were of the mind-bending quality that I've learned to expect from Reynolds. However, characters are sketchy, and their motivations inconsistent.<br/>Still, liked the book overall. It's the sf fix, I think.

Review by

Good, despite being Steampunk.<br/><br/>The story struggles a bit. Too vague and odd in the beginning and ends up being almost over explained towards the end. Lots of good parts but setting and characters never quite struck home with me.<br/>All in all: One of the weaker Reynolds books but I guess Steampunk a challenging genre if you stay clear of Victorian romance, handwavery and magic. Terminal World definitely makes the best of it, convincing and exciting.

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