Termination Shock

A Novel

Hardcover, 896 pages

Published Nov. 15, 2021 by William Morrow.

ISBN:
978-0-06-302805-0
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4 stars (63 reviews)

Termination Shock takes readers on a thrilling, chilling visit to our not-too-distant future – a world in which the greenhouse effect has inexorably resulted in a whirling-dervish troposphere of superstorms, rising sea levels, global flooding, merciless heat waves, and virulent, deadly pandemics.

One man has a Big Idea for reversing global warming, a master plan perhaps best described as “elemental.” But will it work? And just as important, what are the consequences for the planet – and all of humanity – should it be applied?

Termination Shock sounds a clarion alarm, ponders potential solutions and dire risks, and wraps it all together in an exhilarating, witty, mind-expanding speculative adventure.

1 edition

Much more realistic than The Ministry for the Future

4 stars

I think this was my 8th Stephenson book. It’s not the first one I’d recommend but I really liked the characters and story.

I did not know anything about it in advance and was pleased to discover that it’s about climate and solar geoengineering. I have been consuming a lot of non-fiction and fiction climate media lately and this was one of the best. It felt the most grounded in reality: self-interest driving action more than anything else.

Classic Stephenson

4 stars

Content warning Mild spoilers about some topics covered by the book

Beroketa globalaren aurka geoingeniaritza?

5 stars

Oso arriskutsua iruditzen zaidan gai baten inguruko eleberria da Termination shock: geoingeniaritza. Etorkizun nahiko hurbilean kokatua. Beroketa globalak okerrera egin du eta AEBetako aberats bat estratosferan sufre dioxidoa botatzen hasi nahian dabil. Hurrengo hilabeteetan tentsio geopolitikoak, jukutriak... izango dira nagusi.

Pertsonaia batzuk besteak baino gehiago gustatu zaizkit, eta zatiren bat luze xamarra egin zait, baina orokorrean 700 orri pasatxoko liburukotea interesgarria iruditu zait. Gauza batzuetan asmatuko duela uste dut, adibidez, spoiler handirik egiteko asmorik gabe, eskuin muturrak klima aldaketa ukatzetik geoingeniaritza babesterako jauzia emango duela.

Review of 'Termination Shock' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

I wanted to like this more, because I was an early Stephenson fan from Zodiac days, and I still consider Diamond Age and Cryptonomicon to be masterful storytelling. But this? Almost insultingly silly character development, implausible relationships, and a strangely attenuated focus, given the backdrop of the most complex and unrelentingly global problem of our age. If Kim Stanley Robinson's approach to anthropocentric climate change tries to take too sweeping a view (at the expense of character development and human cultural complexity), here Stephenson suffers the opposite failing: too narrow a focus on the relationships around a particular technology, which reveals his increasingly stark limitations as a character-based storyteller. The one character he does manage to make compelling? Well, no spoilers, but I was shocked at the lazy (and infuriatingly bad) conclusion of that particular arc.

Review of 'Termination Shock' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Best book I've read by Stephenson in awhile. Like since Diamond Age. His early books were actual techno thrillers. As he's gotten older he seems to have settled into writing books that include a LOT more description than is absolutely necessary. This is one of those. However, for me, this one isn't as deadly as Seveneves which I gave up on. (That book's premise made it sound as if I'd love it but the pace was deadly.)

This book is set just far enough in the future that we are not there yet, but it's pretty clear that we will be. If not in the specific details, the general idea is spot on.

The characters are solid and interesting. I wanted to read about them which is what made the excess of description ok. That said, if I hadn't been stuck at home with Covid right as I started this, …

Great, but that was to be expected

4 stars

Ever since Snow Crash, Stephenson has had me hooked. So, I can say only good things about this book. Great story, great characters, etc., etc.

I do feel that in a few years, we might (very strong might) find ourselves speaking about this book the same way we speak about the aforementioned work: as some sort of prophetic vision of the future and how we will come to deal with climate change.

I also have to say that the author sneaks in some current affairs. There are things mentioned that may require future readers to check Wikipedia, and there are a few nuanced opinions too.

I took off one star because I feel like the story wasn't quite ready to end and it all rapped up nest and tidy in the swiftest way possible.

Review of 'Termination Shock' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

I think the depth of Neal Stephenson stories is a big factor in me liking them so much. You really get to know the characters, along with an insane amount of detail about their profession or some technical details relevant to their lives.

Termination Shock is a really interesting story. It's also the Stephenson book that I've read the soonest after publishing. I was a little surprised to see references to events from the very recent past. I know they could just have been shoe-horned into the existing story, but still, they fit the world of the book.

I would definitely like to read more about Red, he was the real protagonist of the story for me. He made me think of Roland in Stephen King's Dark Tower series, which is about the biggest compliment I can give to a character.

Review of 'Termination Shock' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

I've said it before and I'll probably say it again - Neal Stephenson needs a very firm editor, and unfortunately, he's reached the fame level where he can choose not to listen to one. And listen to one he definitely does not in this bloated, slow-moving novel about climate change. It's described as a "techno-thriller about climate change" and half of that is right - it's about climate change - but unfortunately there's nothing thrilling about 700+ pages (or 1300+ on my e-reader) that could and should have been edited down to 2-300.

The novel is set in a not-too-far future where climate change has progressed enough that it's undeniable, and various nations and factions are starting to think of desperate measures. The plot mainly follows Saskia, aka the queen of the Netherlands who's visiting the US to unofficially learn more about some new climate technology proposals that might help …

Review of 'Termination Shock' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

I'm going to call it right now: this is probably going to make my Goodreads' list for "longest book read in 2022." 720 pages, amiright?

Too bad they weren't 720 pages that culminated in a jaw-dropping, show-stopping perfect ending. Instead I found myself scratching my head at the end, saying, "What was the point?"

The book moved quickly and had some interesting story lines in play, as is usually the case with anything Stephenson writes. And I had hopes that when he finally wove them all together, I would feel the satisfaction of all the pieces falling into place in a way that revealed something I'd been too obtuse to spot before. But no. It's like when you watch a "smart action movie" where you assume it's going to be more than just car chases and you'll find some clever reveal that makes you appreciate it on a different level …

Review of 'Termination Shock' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This is an interesting counterpoint to the Kim Stanley Robinson novel, Ministry of the Future. Where KSR's fiction dealt with climate change via bureaucracy and finance, Stephenson goes a little more cowboy. As I live in West Texas, I was impressed by how on-the-nose his depiction of the area felt, both the geography and the population. He even threw in an off-the-cuff reference to Permian Basin! I know, Stephenson is infamous for his excessive research. Well, not so much the research but his compulsion to share so much of that research, even if it doesn't always need to be there for the story to move forward. In this case, he was telling a big story with a lot of plot threads woven together, and I didn't really register any infodumps.

The characters are given good motivations, the plot moves forward in plausible ways, and things look like they might be …

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