Termination Shock

A Novel

Hardcover, 896 pages

Published Nov. 15, 2021 by William Morrow.

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3 stars (2 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

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.

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.