13 November, 2009

Review: Ark by Stephen Baxter

In July 2009 I read and reviewed Flood by Stephen Baxter. I liked it and I was curious to read the second book of the duology. Would the sequel Ark (2009, 457 p.) [US][UK], by Stephen Baxter, work for me or not. So I read it as part of my November reading challenge. Water has been the main protagonist of Flood . With Ark leave planet earth.

The Setup

The story begins in 2041 and is partly overlapping with the events of Flood where we followed Ark Three. Now we switch to project Nimrod also known as Ark One. This is the attempt of upper class members and remaining parts of US government to make the continuance of the human race possible. Ark One is a spaceship and Ark is the story of the whole project. That means the development of the star ship, the training and selection of the crew and the final flight. It is also the story of three different women: Holle, Venus and Grace. And it is the partial story of the project Ark Two. The story ends in 2081 but is it the end of the human race?

My Take in Brief

The book is different compared to Flood. It is neither a disaster novel nor a catastrophy thriller. This book is an intense depiction of a possible survive of the human race. The beginning is restrained. But with every page Mr Baxter spread out a masterly map of a human society with one target. Everything is subordinated to accomplish the one and only goal: Surviving of the human race. And it seems unavoidable to exclude religion. I have been impressed especially by the description of the final selection of the crew and the interstellar voyage. Stephen Baxter plays masterly on the keyboard of human sentiments. The whole project is like a Erlenmayer flask where you fill in several liquids and then heat it. Mr. Baxter is an extraordinary chemist. That is also shown in the choice of his characters. They are not black and white. And to my pleasure some of the main characters are women. Stephen Baxter's prose fits perfectly to the story. Anyway once you started to read you can't finish.
I highly recommend the book to people who are interested in the possibilities of human beings to adapt to new environments.

Bona Fide's Book Oracle

After the last review Bona and Fide took a time out. But fortunately I - the keeper of the minutes - found a voice recording with low quality. And that is what I could identify. Bona: "Faith! Why do we always underestimate faith?" Fide: "Good question!" Bona: " Do you be..krchr..drichfgswe?" Fide: "Dkadwe sdsde this question." Bona: "But there is much more than faith in this book." It is an awesome study of human psychology." Fide: "that is true. How can a group of people survive in a limited space without privacy?" Bona:"There must be a reason why the strong personalities are women". Fide:"Of course, when I look at you!" Bona:"Don't insult me." Fide:"OK. But I tell you I'm glad that I'm no member of the Ark One crew." Bona:"I agree. Luckily we know because we read this intense book." Fide:"Yes, everyone should read it before an interstellar voyage." Bona:"And now ffere fdfeerrr xxewd." Fide:"Dddwlk akfefeki. Let's go." I hope you could understand most of the text. It seems the book made a thoughtful impression. So go and read Ark . You won't regret. anyway I recommend to read Flood before.

More Flood and Ark

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. The afterword of Ark contains links related to the scientific background of the book.

Origin of the copy

I bought the copy of the book which I used for this review.