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 …


4 stars

The Terraformers is a wonderful examination of a world designed more for profit than for life. There are numerous takeaways in this remarkably well researched book, and the author is so imaginative and story line so engaging that it's hard not to read in one sitting. Analogies and metaphors abound, and each reader will perk up at recognizing ones that resonate. I enjoyed the story's strong environmental, anti-corporatist, and interconnectedness themes, and the personification of both sentient and insensate beings was remarkably entertaining. It was disappointing to bond with characters, only to be told in the next chapter that they had died without much explanation, but I have to admit that this may have been necessary given that the story's timeline covers thousands of years. I recognized many Buddhist themes in here too, but that may be just my take as a Buddhist reader. Read this and you'll never think …

review The Terraformers

2 stars

i really wanted to like this one. the topics are important, the messages, as far as i could grab, right.

but the art of telling the tale... until the end of the first part everthing was fine: the characters, the development of the story. the second part started the build up with new characters and arc anew, but in lesser time, and the third rushed the same process even more. and the grand scheme in the background didn't deepen with the new parts, but lost every time some of it's aspects to get a conclusion.'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.

Should have been a Trilogy

4 stars

Newitz built a tripartite story, spread across millennia, and it's very good (as expected for previous readers). But, the characters aren't given QUITE enough room to breathe, and expanding this single novel into three, rather than the current three connected novellas, would really have been my preference.

Still, great book, but I want to know what else happened!