Terminal World: A Book Recommendation For World Builders

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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If you are a fan of science fiction, world building, airships, and reading stories with something unique to contribute, I would like to draw your attention to the standalone novel Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds. I recently finished this book after having it recommended to me by a trusted friend.

Imagine a landscape in which the world has been broken into a series of zones that only allows for a limited type of technology to work within that specific zone. In some areas complex circuitry and microcomputers can work without any issues but walking into the wrong zone will ruin your gear, give you a mild headache, and limit you to equipment that only runs on steam power, clockwork, or no technology at all. Knowledge of the zone boundaries, their zone level in relation to the zone in which you were born into is the difference between life and death. Specialized guides can facilitate transport between zones, trade, and relocation to a new zone.The main character is from a huge city called Spearpoint and is made up of dozens of these particular zones ranging from the high-tech celestial levels down to the mundane horse town at the base of the city.

The main character is a medical doctor with the knowledge to treat zone sickness and has an understanding of larger plots within Spearpoint. As the main character finds himself in danger he escapes Spearpoint to take a journey that explores the post-apocalyptic world beyond known-civilization and the safety he’s known all his life. The good news? The author actually does a wonderful job of explaining the physics and rules behind the world, the zones, and introduces well-rounded characters. This story keeps you turning the pages (or sitting in in the driveway for those listening to the audiobook during their commute). The reader of the audiobook was great — this can make or break a book for me.

This book is a standalone story, so there is no commitment to a multi-book story arc. If you are anything like me you have a long list of book series on your to-read list. Before committing to a multi-book series I need certain assurances that the series will either get completed (if not already complete) or that the payoff is going to be worth it. Finding a good one-and-done book is a gem. I will say that Reynolds could easily write more books in this unique world that he has created and perhaps someday he will pick up where the story left off. Until that day (if it ever comes) I will be inspired by the world of Spearpoint.

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