Book review: Termination Shock

Termination Shock

Termination Shock,
by Neal Stephenson
William Morrow
896 pages
Science Fiction/Technothriller/
Environment/Climate Change


Buy the book on my Bookshop

I had meant to read Neal Stephenson for many years, but all his books are quite long, and only recently did I finally decide to take the plunge when I found his latest novel (896 pages) on Netgalley.
This technothriller Termination Shock is related to climate change, and as I have recently enjoyed other cli-fi (scifi related to climate change) for instance Migrations, I thought this would work. It did.

I don’t think this is particular only to this book by Stephenson, but I got much more then expected!
I ended up on a roller coaster of a world tour:
Texas (and yes wild boars –Moby Pig was one of the fun jokes– are becoming an increasing problem, and not just in Texas),
Louisiana (with indeed rumors at one point about “meth gators”),
London, Venice, The Netherlands, Singapore, Papua, the Punjab, the line of actual control between India and China.
Plus geopolitics, geoengineering, solar engineering, sulfur mining, drones, etc.
I discovered intriguing plans related to possible (?) solutions for climate change.
I learned a lot about martial arts, about the Sikh culture, and I met all kinds of fascinating and weird characters from a Dutch queen to a Canadian sikh.

Put together all the bad news you have heard about these past years on tornadoes, hurricanes, violent storms, rising sea levels, floods, heat records, fires, pandemics, and you have an idea of the world Termination Shock is set in.

A very rich man in Texas is determined to implement his creative idea to reverse global warming, whatever the consequences may be, for his nearby neighbors or on the other side of the planet. But if his so-called solution causes problems, is it reversible? 

I like how the author highlighted the complexity of the problem.

They had a century-and-a-half to put carbon into the atmosphere; we have only decades to take it back out.

The vastness of Stevenson’s fresco is impressive. How does he know so much about so many things and cultures?

I also enjoyed all the geeky inventions for instance the “earthsuits: garments that looked much too heavy for such a hot day, because underneath they consisted of networks of cooling tubes against the skin.”
When they are visiting a place “each in their own personal drone: air-conditioned plastic bubble with splayed arms that ramified like fingers, each finger terminated by an electric motor driving a carbon fiber propeller”.

The book starts slowly, the time to introduce all people and places, but the result was very satisfying and I am ready to try another book by this author. Which one would you recommend?

VERDICT: Vast cli-fi highlighting the complexity of our world and its environmental issues. 

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Or any other great book by Stephenson?

In full compliance with FTC Guidelines, I received this ebook free of charge through Netgalley, for review. I was in no way compensated for this post as a reviewer, and the thoughts are my own.


13 thoughts on “Book review: Termination Shock

  1. “the author highlighted the complexity of the problem”

    I’ll have to get this book if the library has it just to see how the backstory of the problem was dealt with: thank you for this review.



  2. It’s quite an investment in reading and thinking time to read a Neal Stephenson novel. I have read all but two, I think. I haven’t read this one. As an elementary librarian, I spend a lot of time reading children’s literature and find it difficult to make time to read Neal’s newest books, but they are always worth it. Which one? Depends. They all have different main topics, although there is always the interconnectedness of many other things. On Goodreads, Snow Crash is his most popular and really made his name, I think, but Seveneves and Anathem seem to be a little closer to what this book is about. But again, I haven’t read it. My family just bought me a copy though. I enjoyed your review and hope I get to read it, maybe in the summer when I am not looking for books for my students.


    • Thanks so much for taking time to share your input. Snowcrash isn’t the one with the highest Goodreads rating, but you are right, this is the one most read. I was considering a few others, but I may follow your lead and try this one first, as some others may be too close to Cixin Liu’s trilogy I’m also currently reading. If you like this author, you definitely need to read Termination Shock


  3. Pingback: Sunday Post #49 – 1/16/2022 | Words And Peace

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