Termination Shock

Neal Stephenson
Termination Shock Cover

Termination Shock


Complexity and connections: that's what this book is about. Our planet is complex and connected, politically, financially, culturally, genetically, historically, and as a weather system.

But the book is also about an important disconnection: the disconnect between people and reality.

For starters, there's the disconnect between "elite cultural and diplomatic circles" and reality. While Termination Shock acknowledges the problematic political course the USA has been on for quite some time - the book is set somewhere after 2029, and the USA by then is "a basket case and global laughingstock" - at the same time Stephenson acknowledges that "on the nuts-and-bolts level of the petroleum and mining industries, they still seemed to get a lot done in the world." It is something "the chattering classes, who live in that sort of bubble" don't seem to grasp, just like "the Greens" don't get that you can't just stop enough people eating meat or buying cars.

But Stephenson's main target is not those who offer easy critique of the USA or big footprint lifestyle on social media - it is the West at large. A Chinese character utters what is the very heart of this novel: "It is a very curious thing about the West. This inability, this unwillingness to talk about realities. Basic facts that are obvious to everyone not in your bubble."


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