Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ark-Stephen Baxter

Stephen Baxter
Roc, May 4 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780451463319

The unabated Flood spreads rapidly across continents with only the highest elevations of land remaining. In America, the Rocky Mountains is the last stronghold not under water, but that is turning into an archipelago. In 2025 as six year old Holle Groundwater and her dad make it to Denver, the last great American city, scientists predict total submersion in the next couple of decades. Their hope to save humanity resides with an Ark traversing to a New Earth II. Some oppose this as a waste of resources with only a select few leaving. Nathan Lammockson pushes creation of geodesic dome habitats on earth that will save so many more.

By 2041 time has run out but Ark One launches with an elitist crew targeting Earth II with a faster than the speed of light technology. On board is frightened Holle who is trained as an astrophysicist and military strategist. She proves her choice is correct, as she contributes over the next four decades. Life inside the Ark One is miserable, but as Holle knows Darwin is right; cut throat survival of the fittest is all that matters to mankind’s remaining few.

This is an exciting science fiction thriller that initially follows up directly from Flood (worth reading first to better understand how humanity got here and what happened to the seas though Stephen Baxter does a nice job with the back-story) before soaring into space. The story line mostly focuses on life inside the Ark over four decades. Considering “necessity as the mother of invention” and being scientific-illiterate, the udnerlying theories seem reasonable. However, the use of resourcing to construct an Ark that if all goes right starting with the launch and a stop at Jupiter will save a few seems off kilter. Still placing aside the plausibility of opportunity costs, Ark is a terrific exciting outer space character study as those inside at times feel like sardines packed in oil.

Harriet Klausner

No comments: