Sunday, February 26, 2012

Review: Arctic Rising by Tobias S. Buckell

by Tobias S. Buckell
Release Date: February 28th, 2012
2012 Tor Books
Hardcover Edition; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-765-31921-0
Genre: Science-Fiction
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

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.

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 wants 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.

My Thoughts
Arctic Rising is a solid thriller with some interesting political and environment assumptions set in a near-future where the Arctic is a universe of its own, the melting ice providing new opportunities for shipping and commercial success.  Considering the growing tensions surrounding the Arctic and the resources that are available there, this novel seems almost the perfect one to read in the midst of those tensions.

As a Canadian, knowing the political tensions that are arising in the Arctic, I found the political developments in this book fascinating.  I enjoyed the inclusion of Canadian, Caribbean, and African powerhouses and characters in this novel, rather than the usual European or American superpowers as it was rather refreshing.  I really liked Anika as a principal character and liked how she stood up for herself when things got tough and wouldn't let things lie when she was told to leave things alone.  As a pilot, and having learnt to follow strict orders all of her life, this must have been incredibly difficult for her, but there are times in your life when you can't sit back and just watch things happen to you.  I have to admire her for that as her world turned upside down and people around her she loved and trusted were killed.  It was interesting to watch her question herself and open herself up to trusting others, something she was not used to doing very often.   

The thriller portions of the novel, when done, were done extremely well, and I would read with anticipation the fight scenes and other gripping scenes in the novel.  There was the tendency however, to go off on the description tangent, and while interesting, didn't help keep the reader glued to the story reading with anticipation, and I felt like I was in history class again.  

Arctic Rising is a fun, interesting thriller, and while the ending was a little too pat for me, and there were some moments when the political and environmental descriptions kind of overwhelmed the thriller portions of the novel, I think the novel will still make you stop and think about the possibilities for the future, and the inherent problems the continuing melting of the Arctic will cause.  What I would like to see is a follow-up novel where we get to see a deeper delving into the political nature of the Arctic, and maybe some information regarding the influence of some of the other superpowers as I'm sure they are not just standing by and watching everything happen.  And what about Antarctica?  And how is this affecting African and the other Caribbean countries, where it must be getting hot?  I enjoyed the world that was created in Arctic Rising and would love to see more novels developed from that world.