Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Termination Shock

Go To

A "climate fiction" novel by Neal Stephenson, Termination Shock describes what happens in the near future when an uber-wealthy businessman decides to solve the world's problems, aided by the Queen of the Netherlands (whose first act is to crash the jet she's flying into a herd of swine while landing), a part-Comanche hog hunter who tends to get literary, and a Punjab-Canadian Sikh who travels with his fellowship to the mountains of India to fight China with rocks and sticks. Yeah, it's pretty typical Stephenson, mixing well-thought-out intertwined plotlines, massive infodumps, and some amazing insights and humor.

This book provides examples of:

  • The Ace: Deep, a.k.a. Laks, a.k.a. Big Fish. Learns new combat skills as needed, kicks ass at them all. After being augmented while recovering from his injury, even more so.
  • After the End: Well, maybe in the middle of it. Global warming has taken hold, water levels are rising, and chaos seems imminent. Some places have devolved into pockets of anarchy, and the crux of the novel is about getting the water level back down, or at least to stop rising.
  • Bodyguard Babes: Amelia, sort of. She's exotic-looking, and extremely capable.
  • Book Dumb: Averted. Rufus starts out looking like a typical redneck, but he's read Moby Dick, does extensive reading and research on hog hunting, and reads (and quotes) several books.
  • The Cavalry: Several examples, but the best example is in the climax; Rufus and friends actually ride horses (the vehicles, drones and other electronics have been knocked out) to save Saska and T.R. They really end up saving the day.
  • The Chessmaster: The Chinese (specifically Bo and his organization) are miles and months in front of everyone else, and they flaunt it to Willem several times.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: T.R.'s staff all wear cowboy hats. White for service staff, brown for ranch staff, and black for the scary, badass security staff ("Just don't sneak up on them. They hate that.").
  • Eagleland: The "'Murica the Boorish" flavor. Especially in the Squeegee Ninja confrontation.
  • EMP: Realistically shown. It knocks out all electronics permanently, except for specifically hardened hardware.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Biggest Gun in the World.
  • Flooded Future World: The plot is about the costal countries/principalities working to avoid this fate.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • A couple of warnings people give Laks include snakes as a metaphor for danger. In the climax, Laks gets bitten by an actual rattlesnake at the Flying S Ranch, slowing him and ultimately helping him to his fate.
    • Several references are made to the Queen's upcoming Budget Day speech. When it finally gets there... hoo, boy!
  • The Nicknamer: T.R. hands them out, like calling Rufus the "Drone Ranger."
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Squeegee Ninja. T.R. shows the video (as part of his Trigger Warning series), and then has to rewind as a discussion breaks out among the security guys over how racist the name "Squeegee Ninja" is, since the guy is clearly not Japanese, but Arab/Indian/Indian (the other kind)/Sikh/Pakastani, or something.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: T.R. does this some with his Texas hick act, especially in his "T.R. Mick" persona.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Saskia pilots a jet airplane, cares for her people, attends T.R.'s summit... but she insists she has no power in the actual government, except for her once-a-year reading of the Budget Day Speech.
  • Secret Test of Character: T.R. and Rufus go hog shooting, but (Rufus figures out quickly) it's actually an interview. The key is when you are handed a weapon you haven't used before, ask for help instead of just faking it.
  • Serious Business: Fighting for your country by... throwing rocks and wielding sticks. There's a ranking system, betting in Vegas, fantasy leagues, etc.
  • Shown Their Work: It's a Neal Stephenson novel, after all. The entire novel is based on a pretty brilliant idea for stopping global warming. The book contains copious details about how T.R.'s plan works, diagrams for the Biggest Gun and its "bullets," and of course several infodumps on hog hunting and obscure martial arts, and lots of Exposition.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: Again, T.R. Says stuff like, "Hoo-ee!" and acts typically Texan, also single-handedly solves the world's biggest climate problem.
  • Spider-Sense: Laks seems to have mysteriously acquired this at some point. Justified, as he has drones feeding information into his new head full of tech.
  • Title Drop: Occurs during an explanation of the titular phenomenon, where, after something is being done for a while, there is fear of stopping and causing a "rebound" effect (in this case, that global warming would worsen if they stopped the efforts).
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Just a few decades from now, the book takes place in a globally-warmed future where all the near-sea-level areas are seriously threatened.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: More than two, typical for a Stephenson novel. You have the queen's story, and the redneck's, and the Sikh fighter guy's, and others, and occasionally the lines cross.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Some of the funniest moments in the novel are the text messages between Saskia and her daughter on this subject.