I liked the concept of the terraformers and was pretty engaged at the beginning. I found this story to be interesting and original throughout, although a few things pulled me out of the story. Primarily, the pacing for this book felt awkward at times, although this may be because I did it on audio. Additionally, I found the conflicts to be anticlimactic.
Annalee Newitz's "The Terraformers" is a thought-provoking and engaging exploration of ecological restoration, corporate greed, and the moral complexities of altering ecosystems. While it may not be without its minor flaws, the novel's strengths far outweigh its weaknesses, offering readers a compelling vision of a future where humanity's relationship with nature is at the forefront of our survival. It is a must-read for fans of science fiction and ecological speculative fiction alike.
(I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)
Newitz's newest title is brimming with Big Juicy Ideas and seasoned with a healthy dose of Sense of Wonder. In the far future, terraforming worlds is a job for generations of scientists and long-sighted corporations who expect a sizable return on their investment. Problems arise when the workers on-world break off from the company contract, setting into motion a conflict that will span generations, and ultimately decide who owns a planet: the beings living and working there, or a distant, opaque, and powerful business interest with its own impenetrable motivations?
An interesting and challenging read on climate sci fi, having the story set across such a long time was a really cool way to see how long term planet care can affect the planet.
Newitz is known for thought provoking sci-fi and that's what this is, to be sure. I don't know if my students would latch on to their style of writing, though, so I likely won't purchase it for my school.
So while I love Annalee Newitz and the concepts in The Terraformers are amazing, I'm just not sure about this one. I adored the world building from the first lines. The ways that The Terraformers examines environmental conservation and human intelligence - what makes a 'being - were fascinating. And thematically this one is a gold star. It's perfect for readers looking to examine what the future could be like. But at the same time, the time jumps and sections lost me a bit.
"The Terraformers" by Annalee Newitz is a gripping science fiction novel that takes readers on a captivating journey into the realm of interplanetary colonization and terraforming. With its richly imagined universe, thought-provoking themes, and compelling characters, this book successfully combines adventure, scientific exploration, and ethical dilemmas, making it an engaging read for science fiction enthusiasts.
What makes "The Terraformers" particularly intriguing is its focus on the moral complexities inherent in reshaping an alien world for human habitation. The author deftly explores the ethical implications, weighing the benefits of creating a new home against the potential destruction of existing ecosystems. Through the diverse cast of characters, each with their own motivations and perspectives, the novel challenges readers to reflect on the delicate balance between progress and preservation, and the consequences of our actions as we venture into uncharted territories.
My review iappears in July/August 2023 Reference Librarian column in Analog Science Fiction and Fact.
This is the third book I've read by this author and I've always enjoyed them. This one has Becky Chambers vibes for sure.
Expansive in imagination of a scifi future with AI, humans, animals, all counted as people (at least by some groups), and full of interesting ideas about self governance, tech, and bureaucracy even thousands of years from now, this was a fun if somewhat long read. Once I realized how much time this story was going to span I was able to settle in and take it as it came. I got attached to the first set of characters and was a little surprised when the next section was hundreds of years later. But it all connects and I loved many of the characters.
Thank you to Tor Books for the advance copy on Netgalley.
I've followed Annalee Newitz and (partner-in-crime Charlie Jane Anders) for years, primarily as a science journalist, science-fiction critic, and pop culture commentator, but haven't read any of their fiction work before this. It's a terraforming saga with a multi-generational time span and big ideas reminiscent of Kim Stanley Robinson or Adrian Tchaikovsky, but engaging characters and much more present and affecting tensions. Long-time fans of Newitz's analytical and ethical prognostications-and obsessions with archeology-won't go wrong here.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing an advance copy of this title in exchange for honest feedback. Loved reading this novel, it reads like a set of interconnecting novellas and I just wanted to spend more time in this world with these characters at the end of each.
Adventure, action, and a cast of misfit characters!
I love the way this story spanned centuries. There was so much story packed in to one book.
The third novel from Annalee Newitz, The Terraformers spans centuries of a team terraforming Sask-E into a world where humans can live and thrive - told through the perspective of the Environmental Rescue Team, an organization that balances the needs of their clients to transform a world with a goal of finding an ecological balance.
While intensely modern, The Terraformers presents as a fairly classic science fiction fix-up novel - it is less of a conventional novel telling one story with one set of characters than it is three linked but distinct stories - and it is very much a novel of ideas. The Terraformers, while being at times a very exciting novel of political drama (with a brief pitched battle) works through the ethics of bioengineered humans, what it means to be a person, sentience, the ethics of terraforming, and corporate responsibility. Newitz’s perspective may not be a surprise, just reading the jacket copy will tell readers where they are coming down on most of these issues - but how Newitz tells the story is remarkable. The Terraformers is excellent and important science fiction.
Two stories in one ...
The Environmental Rescue Team is an old organization dedicated to preventing the collapse of ecosystems. Destry is an analyst with the E.R.T. currently working on the planet Sask-E to terraform an earth-like world. Her companion is a moose named, Whistle. But Destry discovers an ancient city on this supposedly barren world, hidden inside an old volcano. She knows what the E.R.T. wants her to do, but Destry is the one on the planet and she'll need to make a decision, which will have repercussions one way or the other, depending on her decision.
Jump ahead 700 years and Misha, Destry's protege, is now building a planet-wide transit system, working with Sulfur - an engineer from Volcano City. The two discover a secret about the corporation that has been buying up massive amounts of land around the planet. The information is too valuable and important not to share, but too dangerous to do anything other than keep it quiet. What will they do?
This book has some absolutely incredible world-building (pun intended). Author Annalee Newitz has really taken pains to bring us into a world that is both familiar and completely foreign. I felt as though we were dropped into the middle of the opening story and, like being dropped in the middle of a forest, we had to figure out what was happening as we made our way along.
I was excited by this and I read through this quite eagerly. But then the story changed. Or rather, then we got a new story. And I didn't care.
Destry was a compelling character, and her work on Sask-E was fascinating - as was the company she worked for. Misha and Sulfur were quite bland and it seemed as though we went from a character-driven story to a plot-driven story with completely different characters. And the plot hadn't hooked me enough to keep me interested.
There's so much potential here, but the strong start disappeared and we were left with a story that needed some terraforming.
Looking for a good book? The Terraformers by Annalee Newitz starts out strong but when the book changes characters, setting, and time frame, that strength disappears.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
While the plot and concept of "The Terraformers" had promise, the execution ultimately left me wanting more. The planet and its environment lacked the originality and excitement that would have kept me fully engaged. While there were some positive elements to the terraformers themselves, such as their dedication to their mission, these potential strengths may have been stifled by other inconsistencies in the book. Perhaps with more attention to world-building and character development, "The Terraformers" could have been a truly captivating read. Despite its shortcomings, however, I still found myself intrigued by the overall premise of the story and curious about what might happen next. With some revisions and further exploration of its themes, "The Terraformers" could potentially become a standout work of science fiction.
If you're looking for an epic sci-fi tale, this may be the story for you. Engineered humans, sentient animals and intelligent robots make up a working class tasked with terraforming a planet. Evil and uncaring corporate overlords hold the threat of orbital death lasers over all. And you thought your job was bad.
Environmental Rescue Team Ranger Destry Thomas starts her shift by shooting a trespassing remote between the eyes, then composting his campsite, all in accordance with keeping balance in the Great Bargain. Trouble is, the remote was sent by an investor in the parent company, and Destry's boss, Ronnie, is throwing her to the corporate wolves.
What happens next? You'll have to read the Terraformers by Annalee Newitz to find out.
Requested as background reading for a review feature we had planned on BookBrowse. Sadly, I have not yet had time to read it, but our reviewer thought highly of it, rating it 5-stars:
This was SUCH a good book. Newitz's writing is very reminiscent of Becky Chambers and her world-building was just magnificent. The characters are all so very creatively developed with the best of inclusion. The writing is seriously just so great. It is intriguing and immersing. I was absolutely absorbed into this book and I did NOT want to leave. Things were written so beautifully they just hit my heart.
Where I had issues was with the construction. If there ever was a case for a book to be expanded into a trilogy THIS IS IT. Constructed in three parts, this should have been made into three separate books. Putting them together was such a disservice to the story and made things feel like they transitioned and ended too abruptly. I not only wanted more, there NEEDED to be more. Annalee Newitz PLEASE consider writing the rest of the story...fill in the gaps, give more follow-up on an ending. This gorgeous world deserves it.
I will ABSOLUTELY be reading all of Newitz's backlist. Clearly their writing is right up my alley.
I enjoyed this book. As speculative fiction, it addresses some of the potential possibilities associated with genetic engineering, as well as the definition of "animal." The world the author builds is one where corporations play a role both in creating genetically engineered life and even the terraformed planet itself, and they figure out how best to profit off what they have "created," sold, and bought. You will witness both greed and attempts to care for the planet in this unique world, as well as a fight for independence from corporate control..
The comparisons to Martha Wells and Becky Chambers are spot on as this is a book about characters (in space).
The book reads like a couple of not-quite-fully-developed novellas joined together to form one book. I found the jumps in time to be jarring especially after we just spent so much time world building and getting to know a cast of characters who are all but forgotten in the next section. Would have been better if there was a stronger connection of place and a tighter connection between the two casts.
One of the things I love about science fiction is that it presents us with situations that push our thinking on societal norms. I didn't feel like this book presented anything new on the topics that it raises- the environment, politics, sexuality, and gender.