03 August, 2009

Review: Flood, by Stephen Baxter

Flood (2008) by Stephen Baxter is the first book in a series. Stephen Baxter is a well know British science fiction author, and his novel is my first encounter with Mr. Baxter's work. Interestingly, the main protagonist of the book is water.

The Setup

The story begins in 2016. After being held hostage for five years four people - Lily, Helen, Gary, and Pierce are freed by a private security force of AxysCorp. - a multinational company owned by Nathan Lammockson. The freed prisoners return to their relatives in England where something has changed in the past five years - the weather. Rain is now a constant companion and high tides threaten London. There are messages of rising sea levels from around the world, but these dire portents are just the prelude to what will happen in the next 36 years. We accompany Lily, Helen, Gary, Pierce, Nathan and some of their relatives, friends and colleagues through the 36 years of Flood, starting with the flooding of London, where the apocalypse begins...

My Take in Brief

This is neither The Swarm nor The Day After Tomorrow nor Waterworld. It is neither a disaster novel nor a catastrophy thriller. This book is an intense depiction of a possible end for human life on earth, a drowned earth; a perfectly blue ball. While the book is is based on facts, they are not as scientific as those in The Swarm. Have you ever been to London? I stayed there several times, and therefore the detailed description of the flooding of London made my skin scrawl. Stephen Baxter's eerily soothing style only served to intensify the incredibly intense descriptions of the disaster, as well as the impact of the main characters and the inhabitants of London. Mr. Baxter treats the flooding of other big cities and areas as subordinate clauses; in doing so he is makes the story even more worthy of belief.

After the fall of London, we follow the main characters around the world. Every time we get a quick spotlight on what happened in specific regions, and how the new environment has influenced the natives. I will admit that the description of politicians and politics is remarkably accurate, and should be understood as a forward projection of today's issues. My favorite character is undoutebly Lily, but for a slight hestitation. I felt incredibly sad, at the end, when finally the Himalayas are covered with water -- at the moment a song came up in my mind: The End by The Doors (lyrics).

Bona Fide's Book Oracle

You want to feel the creeping dread of a doomed humanity tingling up your spine? You want to know what it feels like to run out of hope? You want to see how devastating water can be? You want to know how people react and change when they loose, in quick succession, their home, town, county, continent, and planet? You want to know the value of money on a dying earth? Do you really want to see what can happen in just 36 years? Then take a deep breath and read Flood.


Stephen Baxter wrote a background essay about The Flooding of London. The main reason for the flood is the existence of underground oceans in the lower Earth mantle. In February 2007 National Geographic News posted following report: Huge Underground "Ocean" Found Beneath Asia. Michael E. Wysession, Ph.D., Washington University professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences developed a 3-D model showing a big body of water in Earth's mantle.

Piqued Your Interest?

Sorry, you can't get this copy of the book because it is the personal property of my wife. I, luckily, managed to obtain permission to read it :>) Fortunately you can buy a copy of Flood (US) (UK) on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. And, like me, you are lucky because you don't have to wait long forthe release of the sequel. Ark should hit the stores in US and UK by 20th of August 2009. As I can't wait to read Ark, I placed my order not less than a minute after I finished Flood.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great review, I'll definitely be picking up this title soon, and then Ark when it reaches South Africa. :-) Haven't read any of Baxter's work yet, so I'm looking forward to it! :-)