The Terraformers by Annalee Newitz is a speculative science fiction novel set in the far, far future on a planet called Sask-E. This is a weird one. I love the author’s vision for a world where multiple types of species can coexist. It’s obviously not a unique vision but here is where execution matters. I believe the author got it right for the most part with some minor hiccups along the way. Make it too confusing and your average readers will be put off by it. Make it too simple and your average to more advanced readers may not fully appreciate the vision and world you are creating.
“When people survived, their most beloved places often survived with them.” - Scrubjay
The Terraformers can technically be split into three parts with each part thousands of years apart. Each part and story/character paves the way for the future. Where The Terraformers failed the hardest are the flat characters. In a world set far into the future and on a planet with so much intelligent life forms, I’d expected somewhat more memorable characters to think of long after I’ve finished reading. Instead, it felt as if the author insists on fleshing out the characters set in our modern world today. Regardless of how a human is created or modified in this futuristic world, the author wants to get the point across that it is not so different than you and me today.
“You wouldn’t say that if you could hear what this glorified heat sink was emitting.” - Hellfire&Crisp
The story of The Terraformers can also be compared to our society of today. There are many similarities if you’re paying attention, especially in part three. While I don’t specifically have an issue with this, it just felt like I was reading about the issues we face today but with cats and dogs as neighbors in addition to flying robots. Maybe that was the point? Regardless of how developed society can evolve, similarly political, racial/gender issues as well as good ol’ corporate greed and capitalism can never be escaped from.
“We do not make sacrifices, but we do make bargains. Pay attention to the difference. One path leads to a simple death, and the other to a complicated life.” - The ERT Handbook
I have really mixed feelings about this novel. On one end, I won’t miss Sask-E or any of the characters. Okay, maybe just HellFire&Crisp. On the other hand, I’m more interested to see if there will be a prequel, specifically of the Verdance corporation, and how they started likely thousands and thousands of years ago before the events of The Terraformers took place.