three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
37-Nov-Dec-2008
user_rating: 
0
Award Year: 
0

A-FloodStephen Baxter, one of the living masters of "hard" science fiction, has written more than 30 novels and other books addressing both the near future and unfathomably distant worlds.

The Story: It’s 2016, and it’s raining. A lot. The barriers protecting London from the Thames have failed, and the center of the city is flooded. By this future date, humanity has grown used to the consequences of sea level rise, a result of global warming, but in fact, a more fundamental change has occurred: fissures deep in the sea have opened, ensuring a permanent increase in sea level that will eventually consume all dry land. Baxter follows a group of characters as they cope with the consequences of the flooding over several decades.
Gollancz. 480 pages. $23.25. ISBN: 0575080582

SFFWorld.com 4 of 5 Stars
"Covering events from the UK to the US, from Australia to Tibet, this is a comprehensive disaster novel that has a very global feel. There are also those touches of Arthur C. Clarke … with the local consequences of big scientific ideas logically taken to impressive ends." Mark Yon

Strange Horizons 4 of 5 Stars
"The canvas is large, the narrative momentum prodigious, and—especially towards the end—there is a series of exquisite and haunting images of the post-apocalypse. … Flood is sopping genius. Dive straight in." Adam Roberts

Guardian (London) 3.5 of 5 Stars
"[W]e receive a crash course in everything from oceanography to meteorology, with a smattering of other sciences beside. But, this being Baxter, he never loses sight in the bigger picture of the effect of the flood on the lives of individuals, societies and nations." Eric Brown

Times (London) 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The scientific lectures and speculation are interesting, if cool. By contrast, the narrative occasionally bogs down in unconvincing soap opera dynamics, presumably meant to make the sketchily-presented characters seem like real people." Lisa Tuttle

Critical Summary

Most of the comments about Flood could have made about nearly any hard science fiction novel: cool science, mediocre characters. But anyone who has read a novel by Baxter (or Arthur C. Clarke, to whom he is often compared) will already be expecting these characteristics from the genre. Reviewers indicated that Flood was an engaging novel despite these expected limitations and that at times, it even overcame them. But when critics were left in awe, it was never from a character’s actions but from the setting, a world gradually coming to understand that it is doomed to drown. Baxter will continue this story in Ark, due out in 2009.