I’ve been meaning to read this since the day it came out – it was on my Wish List for months before publication. But things got in the way and … well … but here I am. 🙂
by Neal Stephenson
2021 / 708 pages
Read by Edoardo Ballerini 22h 58m
Rating: 9 / climate-sci fi
Both read and listened
I have enjoyed Neal Stephenson ever since I read Snow Crash back in 2002 or so. And checking now I see that including this one I’ve read 8 of his books. I skipped most of the Baroque Cycle. Termination Shock is maybe most like The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. in that there’s a fine amount of humor in it. I also thoroughly enjoyed Reamde.
And generally I enjoy dystopian climate sci-fi so I was looking forward and was rewarded; knew it from the first few pages, although it certainly is, as usual, long
So … in the not-too-distant future Frederika Mathilde Louisa,“Saskia,” of the House of Orange in Netherlands, generally known as “the queen,” is flying her jet along with a tiny but nicely armed entourage to Houston, Texas. Unfortunately they crash land near a small forest close to College Station and immediately encounter a herd of wild boars. Chasing these pigs is Rufus Grant, a professional hog exterminator with a Moby Dick-sized personal quest and grudge against Snout, the main giant hog. Then there’s an alligator who seems to be along for the chase and good eating.
Btu that’s just for openers – Saskia is headed to Houston to meet with the billionaire TR Schmidt and the representatives of several other nations to discuss climate change, specifically the almost immediate danger higher sea levels pose to their countries. They’re from Scotland, the UK, Venice, India, and elsewhere. There are things which can be done but …
Nothing can be good for everyone, everywhere.
And when Saskia gets home to the Netherlands from Texas there is an emergency when yellow foam inundates the beach and surfers there – just like in the Netherlands 2020.
Meanwhile in India a young Sikh American is attempting to cross the Himalayas and border illicitl and through military lines, into China to learn more about his martial arts sport.
One of Stephenson’s strong suits is world building but I think maybe he takes a bit too much time with that. We spend page after page with the new “world” in this respect or that and then a few pages of action there and it’s off to another “world”and lots of techie explanations. It’s all transpiring in probably 2045 or 2050 or so and things have changed. And although there are a lot of slow places, I’d definitely call it a “thriller.”
I have to mention the narrator, Edoardo Ballerini, who gives a splendid performance.