Arctic Rising
  • Arctic Rising
  • Arctic Rising

Arctic Rising

3.1 17
by Tobias S. Buckell
     
 

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Global warming has transformed the Earth, and it's about to get even hotter. The Arctic Ice Cap has all but melted, and the international community is racing desperately to claim the massive amounts of oil beneath the newly accessible ocean.

Enter the Gaia Corporation. Its two founders have come up with a plan to roll back global warming. Thousands of tiny

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Overview

Global warming has transformed the Earth, and it's about to get even hotter. The Arctic Ice Cap has all but melted, and the international community is racing desperately to claim the massive amounts of oil beneath the newly accessible ocean.

Enter the Gaia Corporation. Its two founders have come up with a plan to roll back global warming. Thousands of tiny mirrors floating in the air can create a giant sunshade, capable of redirecting heat and cooling the earth's surface. They plan to terraform Earth to save it from itself—but in doing so, they have created a superweapon the likes of which the world has never seen.

Anika Duncan is an airship pilot for the underfunded United Nations Polar Guard. She’s intent on capturing a smuggled nuclear weapon that has made it into the Polar Circle and bringing the smugglers to justice.

Anika finds herself caught up in a plot by a cabal of military agencies and corporations who want Gaia Corporation stopped. But when Gaia Corp loses control of their superweapon, it will be Anika who has to decide the future of the world. The nuclear weapon she has risked her life to find is the only thing that can stop the floating sunshade after it falls into the wrong hands.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Working from actual U.S. Navy reports, bestseller Buckell (Halo: The Cole Protocol) produces an intimate techno-thriller about an ecological showdown in an ice-free Arctic. Anika Duncan, a U.N. airship pilot, records a radiation signal and is thrust into the hunt for a stolen nuclear weapon. Suspecting a traitor within her own agency, she turns to her contacts inside the Arctic underworld to discover who is introducing tiny airborne mirrors into the polar atmosphere. Weaving among mercenaries, freelance moviemakers, elite military, and megalomaniacal environmentalists, Anika is forced to decide in a hands-on fashion about the ethics of torture and the moral philosophy of geo-engineering. The story moves swiftly and Anika’s inner conflicts are keenly drawn, even as Buckell raises the stakes unbelievably high. Eyebrows may also be raised unbelievably high at the libertarian free-trade ice island at the North Pole, but as a character points out, it does give a nice new meaning for “breakaway republics.” Agent: JABberwocky Literary Agency. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Global warming has nearly melted the Arctic ice cap, drastically altering the world's balance of power and sending nations into a race to claim the massive northern oil resources suddenly made accessible. When a nuclear weapon is smuggled into the Arctic Circle, airship pilot Anika Duncan of the United Nations Polar Guard attempts to chase down the culprits. Instead, she finds herself caught in the midst of a political struggle between the Gaia Corporation, which has an idea that might slow down global warming and possibly reverse the damage, and a secret group of corporations and military interests trying to profit from the newly emerging powers, which include Canada and the Inuit tribes. The author of Halo: The Cole Protocol delivers a fast-paced sf action thriller that presents a multifaceted look at the global warming crisis. VERDICT With great cinematic potential, this near-future sf adventure should appeal to fans of disaster fiction and speculative fiction authors J.G. Ballard and Ben Bova.
Kirkus Reviews
This fast-paced near-future thriller delivers a combination of geopolitical intrigue and technological speculation, only flagging as it reaches its jumbled conclusion. Buckell (Sly Mongoose, 2008, etc.) comes down to Earth from the outer-space settings of his earlier sci-fi novels, with a story set just a few decades in the future, as global warming has opened a whole new avenue for shipping and trade in the Arctic Circle. Rather than depicting an apocalyptic doomsday scenario along the lines of The Day After Tomorrow, Buckell envisions global warming as a slow process with far-reaching but gradually accumulating consequences. Thanks to the opening of the Northwest Passage, so-called "Arctic Tiger" countries, including Canada and Greenland, have emerged as new world powers. The novel's protagonist is a Nigerian named Anika Duncan, who works for the United Nations Polar Guard, an international agency that polices the semi-lawless Arctic Circle region. When Anika's airship is shot down by rogue seamen from the deck of a vessel carrying a nuclear device, she's plunged into a conspiracy that involves secret agents, underworld figures and a seemingly benevolent green-energy corporation with a sinister agenda. Buckell focuses as much on action-thriller set pieces as he does on teasing out a plausible future, placing the novel somewhere around the intersection of Michael Crichton and William Gibson. That balance holds until the climax, which mixes awkward speechifying with breathless, confusing action sequences that seem to exist solely to increase the body count. The nuances of Buckell's ideas about environmental policy also end up obliterated by the reveal of a megalomaniacal villain who holds the world hostage with what amounts to a high-tech death ray. Anika remains grounded and sympathetic throughout, though, and the author's vision of the development of Arctic civilization is consistently fascinating. Buckell successfully draws the reader in with his characters and ideas, only to blow things up a little too thoroughly by the end.
From the Publisher
“Tobias Buckell is stretching the horizons of science fiction and giving readers a hell of a lot of swashbuckling fun in the bargain.”

—John Scalzi, bestselling author of Old Man's War

“Buckell delivers double helpings of action and violence in a plot-driven story worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster.”

—Publishers Weekly on Sly Mongoose

“Buckell’s world-building, full of strong Aztec and Caribbean elements, is spectacular; the story, finely tuned and engrossing.” 

—Booklist on Sly Mongoose

“Zombies. Interplanetary battles. Alien races. A hero that can destroy a city in a single bounce. What’s not to love? Light enough for a beach read, smart enough for bedside, this novel can be enjoyed on multiple levels.” 

—RT Book Reviews on Sly Mongoose

“Buckell represents an important force behind the genre’s change. Buckell’s work deals with complex racial issues in a way worthy of the self-proclaimed ‘literature of ideas’: head-on, with no visible flinching, while still managing to give its readers a rollicking good time.” 

—The Seattle Times

bestselling author of Old Man's War John Scalzi

Tobias Buckell is stretching the horizons of science fiction and giving readers a hell of a lot of swashbuckling fun in the bargain.
Booklist on Sly Mongoose

Buckell's world-building, full of strong Aztec and Caribbean elements, is spectacular; the story, finely tuned and engrossing.
RT Book Reviews on Sly Mongoose

Zombies. Interplanetary battles. Alien races. A hero that can destroy a city in a single bounce. What's not to love? Light enough for a beach read, smart enough for bedside, this novel can be enjoyed on multiple levels.
The Seattle Times

Buckell represents an important force behind the genre's change. Buckell's work deals with complex racial issues in a way worthy of the self-proclaimed 'literature of ideas': head-on, with no visible flinching, while still managing to give its readers a rollicking good time.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780765319210
Publisher:
Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
02/28/2012
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 9.74(h) x 1.02(d)

Read an Excerpt

1

 

 

Centuries ago, the fifty-mile-wide mouth of the Lancaster Sound imprisoned ships in its icy bite. But today, the choppy polar waters between Baffin Island to the south of the sound, and Devon Island on the north, twinkled in the perpetual sunlight of the Arctic’s summer months, and tons of merchant traffic constantly sailed through the once impossible-to-pass Northwest Passage over the top of Canada.

A thousand feet over the frigid, but no longer freezing and ice-choked waters, the seventy-five-meter-long United Nations Polar Guard airship Plover hung in a slow-moving air current. The turboprop engines growled to life as the fat, cigar-shaped vehicle adjusted course, then fell silent.

Inside the cabin of the airship, Anika Duncan checked her readings, then leaned over the matte-screened displays in the cockpit to look out the front windows.

The airship’s cabin had once held twelve passengers, but was now retrofitted with a bunk, a small kitchen area, supply closets, and a cramped navigation station. Tourists had once sat in the cabin underneath the giant gasbag as the airship glided over New York’s tallest buildings. After that tour of duty, the United Nations Polar Guard purchased it well used and very cheap.

Airships didn’t use much fuel. They could put observers into the air to monitor ship traffic for days at a time, wafting from position to position with air currents.

It saved money. And Anika knew the UNPG was always struggling with a lean budget. It showed on her paycheck, too.

“Which ship should we take a closer look at, Tom?” Anika asked.

She’d unzipped her bright red cold-sea survival suit and rolled it down to her waist, as it was too hot for her to wear fully zipped up as regulations required. She had her frizzy hair pulled back in a bouncy ponytail: a week without relaxant meant it had a mind of its own right now. She’d consider letting it turn to dreads if she could, but the UNPG didn’t approve. And yet, she thought to herself, they expected her to sit up in the air for a week without a real shower.

Someone once told her to just shave it. But she liked her hair. Why hide it? As long as it was tied up, regs said she could have longer hair.

Now Thomas Hutton, her copilot, was all about the regs and then some. He had his blond hair millimeter short. Shorter than required. But even he wore his survival suit halfsies.

It was one of those balancing acts: if they kept it cold enough in the airship’s cabin to wear the suits zipped up, using the tiny, cramped toilet was torture.

Particularly, Tom said, for the guys.

“Tom?” she prompted.

“Yeah, I’m looking, I’m looking.” He walked back from the nav station, the top half of his suit floppily smacking along behind him as he peered down through the windows along the way.

Four ships were funneling their way into the Lancaster Sound from the east, where Greenland lurked beneath the curve of the horizon. The ships looked like bath toys from up at this height. Three of the ships had large wing-shaped parafoils hanging in the sky overhead. The parafoils, connected to the ships by cables, reached up to where the strong winds were blowing to drag the ships through the water.

“I want to take a closer look at that oil burner,” Tom finally announced.

“You are getting predictable,” Anika said as he slid into the copilot’s seat. Though one of the things she liked about Tom was his easy predictability. Her own life had been chaotic enough before coming so far north. It was a different pace up here. A different chapter of her life. And she liked it. “It is supposed to be a random check?”

He pointed at the black plume of smoke trailing from the stacks of the fourth ship in the distance. “That one sticks out like a sore thumb. Hard to say no to.”

Anika tapped the scratched and well-worn touch screens around her. She pulled up video from one of the telephoto-lens cameras mounted on the prow of the cabin and zoomed in on the fourth ship.

Thirty meters long with a bulbous-prowed hull, flaking rust, and colored industrial gray, the ship was pushing fifteen knots in its rush to pass through the sound.

“They seem to be in a hurry.”

Tom glanced over. “Fifteen knots? She hits a berg at that speed she’ll Titanic herself quickly enough.”

The Arctic still had an island of ice floating around the actual Pole. It was kept alive by a fusion of conservationists, tourism, and the creation of a semi-country and series of ports that sprang up called Thule. They’d used refrigerator cables down off platforms to keep the ice congealed around themselves despite the warmed-up modern Arctic, a trick learned from old polar oil riggers who’d done that to create temporary ice islands back at the turn of the century.

It was an old trick that didn’t really work anywhere else but near the Pole now. But even the carefully artificial polar ice island that was Thule still calved chunks, some of which would get as far south as Lancaster.

Hit one at the speed this ship was going, they’d sink easily enough.

“Shall we get closer to him and sniff him over?” Anika asked. “Remind him to slow down.”

Tom grinned. “Yeah, their credentials should come through shortly. The scatter camera’s up. Let’s see if this ship’s radioactive.”

*   *   *

The neutron scatter camera, mounted on a gimbaled platform right next to the telephoto cameras, hunted for radioactive signatures. Port authorities had been using them to hunt for potential terrorist bombs for decades. But what they found, over time, was a secondary use for the scatter cameras: catching nuclear waste dumpers.

At the turn of the century, after the tsunami that washed over East Asia, UN monitors found themselves contacted by East African countries about industrial pollutants washing up on the beaches. People had been falling sick after approaching large, well-insulated drums washed up from deep in the ocean. People had also been showing statistically high rates of cancer near coastlines throughout countries where standing navies and coast guards just didn’t exist.

Toxic waste, including spent nuclear fuel, was clearly getting dumped off non-monitored coasts by commercial shipping.

The gig started when a shady company got the lowest bid for safely storing fuel or industrial waste. Ostensibly, they were transporting it out of country to another location.

In reality, once offshore of some struggling African country with no navy, they’d dump it.

Even so-called “first world” countries weren’t immune. A statistical study of waste-transporting merchant ships thirty years ago showed a higher number of merchant ships “sinking” in the deeper Mediterranean.

Charter an old leaker, stuff it with barrels full of whatever the host country and its businesses didn’t want. Take the big payout, head out to sea, and then experience difficulties. Instant massive profit.

The African and Mediterranean dumping had faded with the EU and East African naval buildups and public outrage. More dumping was going on off Arabic coasts these days. The post oil-boom nations were too busy trying to destroy each other for what little black gold was left to have the capability to worry about what was going on off their coastlines.

But now the Arctic was also seeing dumping. With the whole Northwest Passage open and free of ice, merchant ships could cross from Russia to Greenland, on through Canadian polar ports, and then to Alaska. Which also meant they crossed over some very deep Arctic water.

As nuclear power boomed across Eurasia and the Americas, with smaller corporations offering small pebble-bed nuclear reactors to energy-hungry towns and small cities demanding an alternative to oils needed in the plastics industries, the waste had to go somewhere.

Somewhere was more often than not … out here where Anika patrolled.

Hence the old, repurposed UNPG spotter airships with scatter cameras. Anika and her fellow pilots hung above the Northwest Passage helping monitor ship traffic that came from the world over. But mainly, they were hunting for ships with radioactive signatures.

The program had proven effective enough. Word had gotten out, thanks in part to a major UNPG advertising campaign online. For the past seven months Anika’s job had become rather routine.

Maybe even a little boring.

Which is why, for a moment, she didn’t notice the sound of the scatter camera alarm going off.

 

Copyright © 2012 by Tobias S. Buckell

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