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Summary

The number one New York Times best-selling author returns with a visionary technothriller about climate change.

Neal Stephenson’s sweeping, prescient new novel transports listeners to a near-future world where 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?

As only Stephenson can, 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.

©2021 Neal Stephenson (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Neal Stephenson has never been afraid of engaging with big ideas within genre forms, and Termination Shock might be his most visionary, and timely, book yet." (Chicago Review of Books)

"Wonderfully human...ingenious and sometimes prophetic.... Stephenson has become a totemic figure for 21st century scientific writers." (Telegraph)

"Stephenson’s reputation as a sci-fi titan is deserved." (Sunday Times)

What listeners say about Termination Shock

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Ye cannae dae a Scootish aeccent, Keptin

As always with Stephenson an excellent story but, dear God, the narration. Possibly the worst Scottish accent in the history of the universe. While the narrator has difficulty with all accents his horrible mangling of a major character’s Scottish accent can only be explained by a deep and abiding trauma caused by a Scottish person in his dim and murky past. Let’s not even mention the Lord Mayor of London’s weird combination of Dick Van Dyke/Kray Twins Mockney or that the Dutch Queen sounds like a Pakistani immigrant to Germany. A virtuoso display of atrocious accents which destroy any immersion in the story. Is the narrator actually from planet Earth?

6 people found this helpful

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Good story, odd narration.

Don’t get me wrong, the narration is spot on for the most part. However, some of the accents he uses are just odd. Making it difficult when there are a group of people talking. Without spoiling the story I cannot say more.

Yet, the story is great. Thought provoking in parts. Witty in others. Lots of modern references making the not so distant future sound planted.

3 people found this helpful

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terrible narration

I'm a big fan of Neal Stephenson usually, but I couldn't finish this book. Gave up after a couple of hours. The narration was using a strange rhythm reminiscent of Vincent Price and didn't vary the performance enough for different types of action or dialogue. It made it really flat and dragging.

2 people found this helpful

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Termination Schlep

Termination Schlock

On the positive side, Neal Stephenson must be congratulated for the astonishing achievement of packing a two hundred-page book into a mere seven hundred.

On the other hand, "Termination Shock" is a prime example of why good writers need good editors to produce good books. You don't read Neal Stephenson for his ability to churn out taught, fast-moving thrillers. And the man is notoriously unable to end a story properly; generally coming to a sudden, grinding halt in the same manner as American stand-up comedians finishing a set. His fans read him for the pleasure of long, occasionally rambling stories which include enough detail, ideas and food for thought to be entertaining, whilst the plot itself stares out of the window for a while with its mouth open.

As his best, the "Baroque Cycle" books, starting with "Quicksilver" are a fantastically good way of passing the time and with the outstanding narration of Simon Prebble demand attention paid to every word.

But "Termination Shock" is one of those titles where the listener's attention can wander for minutes at a time and, upon returning, nothing has been missed. Time and again, tedious description of nothing in particular crops up, lending naught to the story, either in joyful detail of Something Interesting or simple exposition. As for the story itself this time? Meh. Good ingredients badly over-cooked.

Plenty of red pencil from the hand of a skilled editor would probably have brought this book to heel. But perhaps Stephenson is too big an author now for publishers to treat as a professional. Once a writer is hailed as "visionary," their work inevitably suffers when nobody dares say, "lose half of it."

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not his best, not his worst

bit of a slog if in honest. Stephenson can be visionary, fascinating and spectacular but unfortunately he can also sometimes be overly didactic. This is one of those times.

I was left very strongly with the impression that this book was a by-product of the author doing could research into a subject which interested him, rather than conceiving a novel and doing the research to make it happen. it makes fort quite an info-dump and we certainly get a lot of backstory to hide characters but not that much actually happens for a book of this length.

This is, however, a lot better than Reamde or Dodge in Hell. it just falls a long way short of Anathem or Seveneves.

beautifully narrated, however.

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not as bad as reamde

lacking in content. characterisation is good, story is average. but where is the exploration of big ideas? churn out one more mediocre book and NS will lose his place as my favourite author

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Fun story with some good concepts

I enjoyed the near future sci-fi setting of this story, and think the author did a pretty good job of trying to come up with believable changes and developments in the near future.

The story itself was fun, although seemed to get a bit unfocused after the first third of the book. The ending didn't really resolve that much either beyond some character plots. The characters are decent and I enjoyed following each of their stories though.

Overall a good listen, with a fun story in an interesting setting. The story felt a little bit muddled at times to me and has the feeling of being a first book in a trilogy rather than the stand-alone story that it is (at least I think it is...), but it has enough redeeming qualities that I didn't mind too much.

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Another good Neal Stephenson book

Neal's books are always entertaining, interesting and thought-provoking. This book gives an interesting insight into where the world could be heading and the pitfalls of efforts to counteract global warming. There is no easy fix and every action can have unintended consequences. Like so many of Neal Stephenson's books, the scale is huge but the journey is always worthwhile

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lots of fun

A fantastic Neal Stephenson story, very much in the mold of his other 'sci fi' work like cryptonomicon or reamde.

Narration was fine, struggled with one or two accents (Scottish in particular) but it was a lot to ask with so many diverse characters.

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Nailed it.

Neal has the incredible ability to setup a situation and then write the actual moment so tightly, with such an elan, that you read right past it. It is one of the great pleasures in life to have to reread a Neal Stephenson passage. You just can’t believe what you’ve read and the sharp edge of people’s lives. In this novel, he manages a good ending, that got to me. Well done sir. Well done indeed.

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  • Chris
  • 06-12-21

Oddly unsatisfying

This is a very well written story, with good pacing and read by a great narrator. It just isn't that interesting though. The characters are all interesting and the backdrop has lots of potential yet by the end I couldn't really say that it delivered a wow moment. I'm normally a fan of Stephenson (I even quite liked Reamde) but this one fell a little flat. Maybe it's the start of a series and if so then I'll be happy to follow along.

1 person found this helpful