100 books like Termination Shock

By Neal Stephenson,

Here are 100 books that Termination Shock fans have personally recommended if you like Termination Shock. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Ministry for the Future

Akshat Rathi Author Of Climate Capitalism: Winning the Race to Zero Emissions and Solving the Crisis of Our Age

From my list on crash course in our climate choices.

Why am I passionate about this?

Typically, climate journalists share stories of disastrous extreme weather events made more extreme by climate change. But over the past decade, I’ve discovered that every sector of the economy and every country on the planet that I’ve had the privilege to explore has people working on climate solutions. Crucially, in many places, these are now working at scale. 

Akshat's book list on crash course in our climate choices

Akshat Rathi Why did Akshat love this book?

Robinson’s writing project has been to build utopias, but when faced with the climate crisis, he was forced to come up with an optimal outcome rather than an idealistic one.

It transforms a powerful set of ideas into a compelling human story that will undoubtedly influence the real world as it plays out.

By Kim Stanley Robinson,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked The Ministry for the Future as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

ONE OF BARACK OBAMA’S FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR

“The best science-fiction nonfiction novel I’ve ever read.” —Jonathan Lethem
 
"If I could get policymakers, and citizens, everywhere to read just one book this year, it would be Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future." —Ezra Klein (Vox)

The Ministry for the Future is a masterpiece of the imagination, using fictional eyewitness accounts to tell the story of how climate change will affect us all. Its setting is not a desolate, postapocalyptic world, but a future that is almost upon us. Chosen by Barack Obama as one of his favorite…


Book cover of Parable of the Sower

Fiona Tolan Author Of The Fiction of Margaret Atwood

From my list on dark, dystopian futures written by women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an academic and a passionate reader of women’s fiction. My job title, Reader in Contemporary Women’s Writing, is also, fortunately, my hobby. I love to think about how women’s writing explores women’s lives today. I chose the theme of dystopian fiction because The Handmaid’s Tale has been so central to my work. Still, other potential topics that came to mind were motherhood, home and domestic labour, reproductive politics, and feminist protest. It strikes me now that each of the books on my list also cover these topics. This is the element of my work I love – drawing out the connections and political convictions that make today’s women’s writing so powerful.

Fiona's book list on dark, dystopian futures written by women

Fiona Tolan Why did Fiona love this book?

This is the first book I ever read by Butler and it remains my favourite. Butler’s vision of near-future America is one of climate crisis, economic collapse, and social anarchy. The scenes of violence and degradation are terrifying.

What I love about this novel is how Butler creates a true hero – visionary, determined, and inspirational – in Lauren, a teenage girl. Written as a journal, the protagonist’s youth can be heard in her language ("I hate being a kid," she complains), but Butler has every faith in her as an extraordinary leader. In many ways, it’s a classic quest novel, as Lauren’s followers head north in search of safety; it’s also an attempt to articulate a new way of thinking about the earth and our relationship to it.

Butler uses elements familiar to dystopian writing, and the novel reminds me of many others, but it somehow manages to be…

By Octavia E. Butler,

Why should I read it?

25 authors picked Parable of the Sower as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The extraordinary, prescient NEW YORK TIMES-bestselling novel.

'If there is one thing scarier than a dystopian novel about the future, it's one written in the past that has already begun to come true. This is what makes Parable of the Sower even more impressive than it was when first published' GLORIA STEINEM

'Unnervingly prescient and wise' YAA GYASI

--

We are coming apart. We're a rope, breaking, a single strand at a time.

America is a place of chaos, where violence rules and only the rich and powerful are safe. Lauren Olamina, a young woman with the extraordinary power to…


Book cover of The Water Knife

Maya Silver Author Of Moon Zion & Bryce: With Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase-Escalante & Moab

From my list on featuring the American Southwest desert.

Why am I passionate about this?

Even though I’m from humid DC, I’ve been drawn to the desert since I first set foot there as a kid on a family road trip. Now, I’m lucky enough to live in Utah, home to some of the world’s most legendary desert landscapes. One reason I love the desert is the otherworldly scenery: uncanny arches, bizarre hoodoos, and sand dunes you could disappear into. Before your eyes, layers of geologic time unfold in epochs. The desert is a great place for contemplating the past and future—and for great adventures, with endless sandstone walls to climb, slick rock to bike, and sagebrush-lined trails to hike.

Maya's book list on featuring the American Southwest desert

Maya Silver Why did Maya love this book?

This novel considers what will happen when the Southwest runs out of water, a very real possibility, especially with climate change, and something I care about as a Utah resident.

It pulls you into the action right away and keeps you on your toes until the very end, weaving together the narratives of a few different characters, including a journalist, a refugee from Texas, and a henchman (aka “the water knife”) who’s paid to destroy rival water supplies.

An alum of Oberlin College (like me!), Paolo Bacigalupi is a master of telling engaging stories about possible futures defined by climate change. I highly recommend this thoughtful novel and his other books! 

By Paolo Bacigalupi,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Water Knife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the international bestselling author of the Hugo and Nebula award-winning The Windup Girl, comes an electrifying thriller set in a world on the edge of collapse.

WATER IS POWER

The American Southwest has been decimated by drought, Nevada and Arizona skirmish over dwindling shares of the Colorado River, while California watches.

When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in Phoenix, Las Vegas water knife Angel Velasquez is sent to investigate.

With a wallet full of identities and a tricked-out Tesla, Angel arrows south, hunting for answers that seem to evaporate as the heat index soars and the landscape…


Tidelands: Ghosts and Monsters

By Gareth J. Southwell,

Book cover of Tidelands: Ghosts and Monsters

Gareth J. Southwell

New book alert!

What is my book about?

In a flooded city on the brink of collapse, the arcology provides a high-tech haven – for those who can afford it. Here, safe in her pampered confinement, Eva longs for escape. But each day she is made to play The Game, a mysterious virtual environment that seems more designed to monitor and test than to entertain.

Outside, life is a different story, where unregulated tech spawns nightmares to rival those of fairtytale and folklore – ghosts and monsters, the no-longer-human and the never-should-have-been. Here, Squirrel is a memory thief, eking out a fraught existence in service to the criminal…

Tidelands: Ghosts and Monsters

By Gareth J. Southwell,

What is this book about?

Tidelands is an ongoing sci-fi and fantasy serial. Set some years in the future, it is a dystopian blend of cyberpunk, first contact, Lovecraftian horror and dark humour.

In a flooded city on the brink of collapse, the arcology provides a high-tech haven – for those who can afford it. Here, safe in her pampered confinement, Eva longs for escape. But each day she is made to play The Game, a mysterious virtual environment that seems more designed to monitor and test than to entertain.

Outside, life is a different story, where unregulated tech spawns nightmares to rival those of…


Book cover of Snow Crash

Kian N. Ardalan Author Of Eleventh Cycle

From my list on think about humanity's legacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Something that annoys me to no end is when people avoid reading fantasy or sci-fi because it isn’t realistic. I argue that realism isn’t about the veracity of flying dragons or building a fusion reactor that can fit in our hands; it’s about the human elements in between. Sci-fi can be a reminder of the dangerous trajectory we are heading in. Fantasy can reflect inequality by condensing resources to one mystical gem. To this end, any book that ends with me understanding the danger of language by describing it as a virus or showing me how books can bridge the gap between past and present makes me grow as a person.

Kian's book list on think about humanity's legacy

Kian N. Ardalan Why did Kian love this book?

A virus that moves through language? It's insane, and yet, I can’t stop seeing it in action.

When I first started the book, I had to roll my eyes at the cliché of a protagonist in a videogame who was also one of the most renowned samurais in the world. It explored themes that, at the beginning, seemed so comical. And yet, I finished that book and walked away feeling pensive.

I knew inherently that a language can be destructive. It can sow discord and preach hate. But the perspective of seeing it as a virus brought a whole new light to the concept. It’s something I never considered before, especially when imagining how hate can spread so virulently.

By Neal Stephenson,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Snow Crash as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The “brilliantly realized” (The New York Times Book Review) breakthrough novel from visionary author Neal Stephenson, a modern classic that predicted the metaverse and inspired generations of Silicon Valley innovators

Hiro lives in a Los Angeles where franchises line the freeway as far as the eye can see. The only relief from the sea of logos is within the autonomous city-states, where law-abiding citizens don’t dare leave their mansions.

Hiro delivers pizza to the mansions for a living, defending his pies from marauders when necessary with a matched set of samurai swords. His home is a shared 20 X 30…


Book cover of Cryptonomicon

Robert J. Lloyd Author Of The Bloodless Boy

From my list on science-based historical fiction novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write as Robert J. Lloyd, but my friends call me Rob. Having studied Fine Art at a BA degree level (starting as a landscape painter but becoming a sculpture/photography/installation/performance generalist), I then moved to writing. During my MA degree in The History of Ideas, I happened to read Robert Hooke’s diary, detailing the life and experiments of this extraordinary and fascinating man. My MA thesis and my Hooke & Hunt series of historical thrillers are all about him. I’m fascinated by early science, which was the initial ‘pull’ into writing these stories, but the political background of the times (The Popish Plot and the Exclusion Crisis, for example) is just as enticing. 

Robert's book list on science-based historical fiction novels

Robert J. Lloyd Why did Robert love this book?

About WWII codebreaking, the reason this makes my ‘Best 5’ is that, besides being constantly inventive and informative, it’s also very funny. (I’m that shallow.)

There are similarities, I think, with Catch 22, in the plot’s intelligence, absurdity, and dreamlike turns.

I think Stephenson’s character Bobbie Shaftoe, a soldier who carries out counterintelligence deceptions, is hilarious. Also, Stephenson’s use of real historical characters–he presents believable portraits of Alan Turing, Douglas MacArthur, Karl Dönitz, and Hermann Göring, with a walk-on appearance by Albert  Einsteingave me license to do so in my own fiction.

By Neal Stephenson,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Cryptonomicon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With this extraordinary first volume in an epoch-making masterpiece, Neal Stephenson hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obsessions of men, decrypting with dazzling virtuosity the forces that shaped this century.

In 1942, Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse—mathematical genius and young Captain in the U.S. Navy—is assigned to detachment 2702. It is an outfit so secret that only a handful of people know it exists, and some of those people have names like Churchill and Roosevelt. The mission of Waterhouse and Detachment 2702—commanded by Marine Raider Bobby Shaftoe-is to keep the Nazis ignorant of the fact that Allied Intelligence…


Book cover of The Caryatids

Andrew Dana Hudson Author Of Our Shared Storm: A Novel of Five Climate Futures

From my list on the politics of climate change.

Why am I passionate about this?

Reading and writing speculative fiction is a big part of how I make sense of the world—particularly complex problems like climate change. I also believe our environmental problems are inherently political, which is why I went to grad school to study sustainability and the institutions trying (and often failing) to fix our broken planet. After attending the UN COP24 climate conference, I came back more sure than ever that we need a range of stories about future environmental politics to help us understand the onrushing challenges. I hope this book list is a good place to start!

Andrew's book list on the politics of climate change

Andrew Dana Hudson Why did Andrew love this book?

Sometimes climate fiction can feel a little less technologically futuristic than its older cousin science fiction, and that’s often a good thing. But Sterling manages to put together a wild (and entertaining) tale of clones, augmented reality, ubiquitous computing, and other fantastica that also has a lot to say about the politics of environmental collapse. Years after reading it I still think a lot about the rival factions this novel invents, like the everything-is-entertainment Dispensation and the utopian hive mind Acquis. Plus, this book features one of my all-time favorite lines from speculative fiction: “I won’t hide from the bandits in a nuclear robot suit! That useless strategy is for cowards!” A great, weird romp. 

By Bruce Sterling,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Caryatids as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Alongside William Gibson and Neal Stephenson, Bruce Sterling stands at the forefront of a select group of writers whose pitch-perfect grasp of the cultural and scientific zeitgeist endows their works of speculative near-future fiction with uncanny verisimilitude. To read a novel by Sterling is to receive a dispatch from a time traveler. Now, with The Caryatids, Sterling has written a stunning testament of faith in the power of human intellect, creativity, and spirit to overcome any obstacle–even the obstacles we carry inside ourselves.

The world of 2060 is divided into three spheres of influence, each fighting with the others over…


Book cover of Seveneves

Ness Brown Author Of The Scourge Between Stars

From my list on sci-fi about space missions gone terribly wrong.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an astrophysicist with a passion for narratives that stare unflinchingly at the inherent hostility of outer space. Professionally, I study graduate astrophysics and research the ways high-energy celestial objects impact cosmic evolution. Creatively, I use my training to write science fiction horror exploring the spookiest things the universe has to offer. I particularly love stories that throw wrenches in the best-laid plans of star-faring protagonists, and will never get tired of a good old space mission gone terribly and tragically awry.

Ness' book list on sci-fi about space missions gone terribly wrong

Ness Brown Why did Ness love this book?

In Seveneves the crises start coming and never stop coming.

The sudden, inexplicable destruction of the Moon and the resultant catastrophic rain of debris destroys habitability on Earth. A small population of refugees escapes into space to keep the flame of humanity alight.

Naturally, the inhospitality of interplanetary space and conflicting factions of survivors plunges the journey into resource depletion, rampant cancer, attempted coups, and a population bottleneck, but I found that the ending concludes a surprising story of human connection, even when the definition of human has radically changed. 

By Neal Stephenson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Seveneves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The astounding new novel from the master of science fiction.
President Barack Obama's summer reading choice and recently optioned by Ron Howard and IMAGINE to be made into a major motion picture.

What would happen if the world were ending?

When a catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb, it triggers a feverish race against the inevitable. An ambitious plan is devised to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere. But unforeseen dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain...

Five thousand years later, their progeny - seven distinct races now three…


Book cover of Anathem

A. David Redish Author Of Changing How We Choose: The New Science of Morality

From my list on across the boundary of poetry, science, and society.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have long been fascinated by what makes us human. Great art is about the human condition. We are very quick to reject art that gets that human condition wrong. I’m a poet, a playwright, and a scientist.  While my science has found itself at the center of fields such as computational psychiatry and neuroeconomics, I find myself turning again and again to the insights from great novels to understand the subtleties of the human condition. So to complement the scientific questions of morality (because morality is all about the human condition), one should start with great novels that ask who we are and why we do what we do.  

A.'s book list on across the boundary of poetry, science, and society

A. David Redish Why did A. love this book?

A science fiction tale couched in the language of a novel study of academia, Anathem by Neal Stephenson describes a world in which monk-like academicians ensconce themselves away in “maths” which shut their doors to the world for a day, a year, a decade, a century, or a millennium. 

A marvelous vision on what it means to study something, to understand it, and, thus to see the world from a different perspective.

By Neal Stephenson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Anathem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since childhood, Raz has lived behind the walls of a 3,400-year-old monastery, a sanctuary for scientists, philosophers, and mathematicians. There, he and his cohorts are sealed off from the illiterate, irrational, unpredictable "saecular" world, an endless landscape of casinos and megastores that is plagued by recurring cycles of booms and busts, dark ages and renaissances, world wars and climate change. Until the day that a higher power, driven by fear, decides it is only these cloistered scholars who have the abilities to avert an impending catastrophe. And, one by one, Raz and his friends, mentors, and teachers are summoned forth…


Book cover of The Light Pirate

Victoria Costello Author Of Orchid Child

From my list on realist that use magic to say hard things.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like most children growing up with fairy tales and Bible instruction, I believed in miracles and magic. But it was the death of my father at age eight, then having his spirit return to my childhood bedroom to comfort and reassure me, that planted in me a core belief in dimensions beyond material reality. Other influences, including living as a neurodiverse woman and raising a neurodiverse son, working as a science journalist, and reading quantum physics, helped me re-embrace the liminal as part of my adult worldview. The most interesting novels to me often carry subtle messages and bring awareness to underrepresented people and issues, and many do this using magic and the fantastic.

Victoria's book list on realist that use magic to say hard things

Victoria Costello Why did Victoria love this book?

I've resisted ‘cli-fi’ novels thinking I didn’t want or need more post-apocalyptic doom and gloom in my head.

Finally, after feeling like I was missing out on an important cultural moment, I asked a friend who reads in this genre, and he suggested I start with Lilly Brooks-Dalton’s novel.

Set in an undefined near future, The Light Pirate is more realist than fantasy or sci-fi, but the author makes clever use of an unexplainable, possibly supernatural element to set up the novel’s central question: Are humans going to adapt to climate change or will we die off as a species?

We meet protagonist Wanda, at her untimely birth, during the destructive peak of the hurricane she's named for. Readers invest in Wanda’s unlikely survival as it quickly becomes clear that a key environmental tipping point has come and gone, wiping out her home, indeed the entire state of Florida, leaving…

By Lily Brooks-Dalton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Light Pirate as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set in the near future, this hopeful story of survival and resilience follows Wanda—a luminous child born out of a devastating hurricane—as she navigates a rapidly changing world: A “symphony of beauty and heartbreak” (Associated Press).

A Good Morning America Book Club pick · #1 Indie Next pick · LibraryReads pick · Book of the Month Club selection ·  Marie Claire #ReadWithMC book club selection · 2022 NPR “Book We Love” · New York Times Editors’ Choice

Florida is slipping away. As devastating weather patterns and rising sea levels wreak gradual havoc on the state’s infrastructure, a powerful hurricane approaches…


Book cover of The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions

Michael R. Rampino Author Of Cataclysms: A New Geology for the Twenty-First Century

From my list on mass extinctions of life.

Why am I passionate about this?

A visit to the American Museum of Natural History when I was seven years old hooked me on dinosaurs and geology in general. I have maintained that passion to uncover the history of the earth with fieldwork on all seven continents, cutting-edge research, and teaching undergraduates to appreciate the implications of our tenancy on the planet, and our place within the solar system, the galaxy, and the wider universe.

Michael's book list on mass extinctions of life

Michael R. Rampino Why did Michael love this book?

Brannen examines the major mass extinctions in earth’s past and concurrent times of eruptions of massive floods of lava. He introduces us to the front-line researchers who are using the forensic tools of modern geology to uncover the connection between these titanic eruptions and the release of volcanic gases, severe greenhouse warming, ocean stagnation and eventual mass extinctions of life. This leads to the possibility that catastrophes can come from inside as well as outside the earth.

By Peter Brannen,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Ends of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A book about one apocalypse - much less five - could have been a daunting read, were it not for the wit, lyricism, and clarity that Peter Brannen brings to every page.' Ed Yong, author of I Contain Multitudes

Apocalypse, now?

Death by fire, ice, poison gas, suffocation, asteroid. At five moments through history life on Earth was dragged to the very edge of extinction.

Now, armed with revolutionary technology, scientists are uncovering clues about what caused these catastrophes. Deep-diving into past worlds of dragonflies the size of seagulls and fishes with guillotines for mouths, they explore how - against…


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