In the future something has gone terribly wrong. The earth is divided into Zones and each Zone restricts the use of different technologies. The result is towns with that can only use horse power or steam power and any higher tech looses it’s ability to function once it has been to a lower level Zone.
We start out in a place called Spearpoint, which seems to have more than it’s share of Zones to go around. At the bottom of Spearpoint is Horsetown and at the top are the Celestial Levels where magic like super technology still works. The people who live in the higher realms are called Angels and even have wings. Our hero is a mortician who is an Angel in disguise, but his time of hiding is running short.
Terminal World is basically a quest story. Our hero, Quillion, needs to get away from Spearpoint and once he is out in the wider world, he runs into the real star of the book, a small girl with the power to change the Zones. After countless problems escaping Spearpoint, Quillion now must find a way to return and take the girl with him.
Along the way we meet a random assortment of villains and monsters-a group of Mad Max type people who are called Skullboys and a race of nasty cyborgs called Carnivorgs. We meet a group of nomads who live in dirigibles who spend a good deal of their time talking about how much they hate Spearpoint.
Terminal World is a subtle book that doesn’t spell out it’s many secrets in an easy manner. There are hints for the reader as to what is going on, but the people in the book have no idea as to the real nature of their world. As the story draws to a close we are left wondering if anything will ever come of all the struggles and hardships.
As far as Steampunk novels go I think this is a good one. It has a strong science fiction base that explains why everyone is using crossbows and airships and the like. Terminal World is a good read.