The Terraformers

Hardcover, 352 pages

English language

Published Jan. 22, 2023 by Tor Books.

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3 stars (5 reviews)

From science fiction visionary Annalee Newitz comes The Terraformers, a sweeping, uplifting, and illuminating exploration of the future.

Destry's life is dedicated to terraforming Sask-E. As part of the Environmental Rescue Team, she cares for the planet and its burgeoning eco-systems as her parents and their parents did before her.

But the bright, clean future they're building comes under threat when Destry discovers a city full of people that shouldn’t exist, hidden inside a massive volcano.

As she uncovers more about their past, Destry begins to question the mission she's devoted her life to, and must make a choice that will reverberate through Sask-E's future for generations to come.

A science fiction epic for our times and a love letter to our future, The Terraformers will take you on a journey spanning thousands of years and exploring the triumphs, strife, and hope that find us wherever we make our home. …

1 edition

Engaging, but could have been better

3 stars

I didn't enjoy this as much as I'd hoped to.

The plot is broad in scope and sweeps across a period of a couple of millennia. Although set almost 60,000 years in the future it touches upon (and in some cases dives deeply into) themes that are very relevant in the 21st century, and the writing is generally engaging.

So why didn't I really like it? A couple of things: the structure of the book (three sections each set approx. 1,000 years apart) meant that just as you were starting to really understand some of the characters they were left by the wayside and a whole new set of individuals got introduced. At the end of each section it felt to me that there was still a lot of potential development of both plot and characters, and maybe this book could have worked better if each section was significantly expanded …'s epic tale of #enshittification on a geologic time scale.

4 stars

A really wonderful take on colonization and identity. Fast paced and full of some truly original takes on technology and the balances (and imbalances) of power resulting from the dynamics of capitalism in a seemingly post-scarcity era.

Who owns the land? What is intelligence and what rights (if any) does intelligence deserve? What if naked mole rats could talk and what if Miyazaki's catbus was part of an anarchist collective that lived under an active volcano?

These and many other questions are wrestled with in the this light and heavy sci-fi gem.

the more things change, it seems they don't

2 stars

Plenty to like here in environmental, more-than-human kin, queer and anti-capitalist themes in a fairly comic presentation. And yet it's really off as a paced story, as characters jut in or out or beep past, or as a deeply considered world or future confronting injustice, and the incoherence just built for me as emotions rose towards the end.

Great Ideas, Uninspired Execution

3 stars

As always, Annalee Newitz is astoundingly smart. She fills this book with many interesting ideas. Unfortunately, the story she writes around the ideas in this book is a little weak. The most notable example is in the first section where two factions have little reason to trust each other, yet they do so in only a couple pages.

Terraformers is still worth reading for the concepts, but Newitz's previous two works of fiction are easily superior.