four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
58-May-June-2012
user_rating: 
0

737212.pngTobias Buckell is one of science fiction’s rising stars, having announced his arrival with Crystal Rain (2006), Ragamuffin (2007), and Sly Mongoose (2008) (the far-future Xenowealth series). In Arctic Rising, a stand-alone novel set in the near future, climate change and conspiracy threaten to destroy the world.

The Story: Fifty years in the future, the Arctic ice cap has disappeared, opening up the Northwest Passage—and along with it, the exploitation of the region’s natural resources (as well as ready-made drug and smuggling routes and eco-terrorism). When Anika Duncan, a Nigerian-born dirigible pilot for the United Nations, encounters a rogue ship intent on shooting her down, she becomes embroiled in a conspiracy of global proportions that pairs her with Violet, a Baffin Island drug dealer, and the Caribbean spy Roo. When the Gaia Corporation’s plan for resetting the planet’s climate falls prey to the law of unintended consequences, Anika holds Earth’s fate in the balance.
Tor. 304 pages. $24.99. ISBN: 9780765319210

Staffer’s Book Review 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Buckell uses well founded research to weave an argument not just for environmental reforms, but also against extremism and unilateral policy making. The end result is an even-handed novel that will appeal (almost) equally to readers on both sides of the proverbial aisle." Justin Landon

NPR 4 of 5 Stars
"As we might expect in a good thriller, it’s only the fate of the world that turns out to be hanging in the balance. … If you count on good thrillers to be told in clear, engaging prose and made up of interesting psychology, state-of-the-art research and swiftly moving plots, you couldn’t be in a better place." Alan Cheuse

Seattle Post-Intelligencer 4 of 5 Stars
"Global warming has been a theme for many science fiction authors lately, but none have done it better than Tobias Buckell in Arctic Rising. … This book is full of swashbuckling technical adventure and Anika is an incredibly strong female lead character." Rhetta Akamatsu

SFF World 4 of 5 Stars
"For an ecological action-thriller, Buckell more than proves he’s capable of delivering the goods. … Only time will tell where Mr. Buckell will next ply his novel writing trade, but with Arctic Rising, he’s penned an entertaining, thought provoking thriller that could have the wider appeal of some of Michael Crichton’s better and stronger novels." Rob H. Bedford

SF Signal 4 of 5 Stars
"Buckell’s characters here have deep and interesting backstories that do multiple duty in fleshing out the world and its history as well as giving us insight into the character’s motivations. … Writers can and should pay attention to some of the techniques and craft that Buckell employs here, and plain readers can just enjoy the results." Paul Weimer

Critical Summary

Arctic Rising recalls the work of science fiction writers Karl Schroeder and Paolo Bacigalupi (The Wind-Up Girl), friends and collaborators of Buckell’s who have also written "green" speculative fiction. In his latest effort, Buckell does the eco-thriller justice, combining equal parts Michael Crichton and Ian Fleming (with a particular interest in James Bond). Although global climate change underpins the novel, the story never bogs down in politics. It instead moves at a breakneck pace and favors character development—Anika Duncan is one of the freshest characters to appear in the genre in some time—over propaganda. Another solid effort from a writer whose body of work puts him in the first rank of science fiction writers working today.