Sunday, May 9, 2010

Terminal World-Alastair Reynolds

Terminal World
Alastair Reynolds
Ace, Jun 1 2010, $26.95
ISBN: 9780441018666

The call to the Department of Hygiene and Public Works said a smear fell from above; the dispatcher sends Cultel and Gerber to clean up the probable faller. The pair arrives to see the victim possessed wings; the deceased is an angel who fell from way above in the Celestial levels to the Neon Heights sector of the city Spearpoint. They bring the freaky to Quillon the pathologist.

However, the angel is alive though dying. He was sent to Quillon by the quickest way: a fall from above to warn the only posthuman angel to turn into a prehuman that he is on the agenda from above and a shift is planned. Quillon leaves his home to cross zones in an unwelcoming world beyond Spearpoint for the posthuman will send something horrific to kill him. His contact Fray knows what he was and calls Quillon Cutter. He arranges for him to leave accompanied by Meroka the mercenary who would kill without remorse any creature from above. They flee through a secret tunnel and on a train heading to the Boundary. Quillon fears a Zone Shift assaulting Spearpoint would kill much of the populace when technology fails. He has no hope to prevent it so prepares for the worst until the two escapees meet Ricasso, chief of the Swarm airship armada that patrols the arid tundra planet. However, as he understands their mission, his tiny flicker of faith seems ready to revert back to despair again.

This is a fascinating science fiction noir as each section of Spearpoint seems to represent an era based on the predominant technology; as you go up the levels, the more powerful the gizmos and the less human the residents. Once the former posthuman and the mercenary leave the city, the story line turns more into an exciting but typical futuristic sci fi thriller. Although radically different than Alastair Reynolds’ House of Suns, fans will want to join Quillon’s journey to save Spearpoint from his former comrades in the highest echelon.

Harriet Klausner

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