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Posted March 5, 2012
Tobias Buckell, known for his Caribbean influenced science ficti
Tobias Buckell, known for his Caribbean influenced science fiction Xenowealth series and additions to the Halo universe, brings us his first new novel in four years with “Arctic Rising”. In the very near future, the Arctic ice cap has all but melted as rising global temperatures change the dynamics and balance of power in the world. Tundras are now prairies, and the once ice locked islands of the Arctic circle are now the coveted centers of commercial and shipping success.
Anika Duncan is an airship pilot for the U.N. Polar Guard, patrolling these northern shipping lanes by air when events kick off in the novel. Readers are propelled through this eco-thriller as the stakes are raised and the balance of power is at risk.
Buckell’s book seems somewhat apropos this year, when in the dead of winter we are looking at 70 degree days during a time of year when we usually measure the day by how deep the snow is. At its heart, “Arctic Rising” is a thriller set in the backdrop of a world where global warming has already started to wreak severe havoc, destroying tropical islands in floods while at the same time opening the northern reaches of Canada and Russia to more temperate activity.
When the book excels as a thriller, it really excels. Buckell has a gift for writing down the play by play action of a fight scene, whether that fight is in the scrub of Greenland, or between armed groups in a disintegrating floating city. Sadly, its not without its flaws – the info dumps, when they happen, are a force to be reckoned with, and occasionally someone takes a sip of the monologue draught.
Buckell always does a great job of breaking us out of the northern European descent perspective of the world, giving us a better rounded view of the world. His characters aren’t just white Americans – they’re Nigerian, Caribbean, and Canadian, and they come from a culture and history that you can almost feel.
I would love to learn a little bit more about the world Anika and friends live in, though. If the Arctic is melting, what about the Antarctic? What’s going on south of the equator? Maybe a future book will give us that glimpse. For now, I’d recommend this near future thriller for the fast paced zeppelin ride that it is. Or, as another reviewer more succinctly (paraphrasing) put it - the book Ian Flemming would have written if he'd written about a female secret agent after the poles started melting :)
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Posted May 22, 2012
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