Book Review – Flood by Stephen Baxter
The “deeply scary”(BBC Focus) new novel from a national bestselling and critically acclaimed author.
Four hostages are rescued from a group of religious extremists in Barcelona. After five years of being held captive together, they make a vow to always watch out for one another. But they never expected this…
The world they have returned to has been transformed by water – and the water is rising. As it continues to flow from the earth’s mantle, entire countries disappear. High ground becomes a precious commodity. And finally, the dreadful truth is revealed: before fifty years have passed, there will be nowhere left to run…
Flood by Stephen Baxter is about a truly scary (albeit theoretical) global extinction event in progress. Covering around fifty years, we follow a group of scattered survivors who are up against rapidly rising ocean levels that relentlessly swallow up homes, cities, countries and finally, entire continents. The world is practically in denial for majority of the book, until there is nowhere else for survivors to run to (or rather, climb to).
The science in Flood IS pretty cool – Mr. Baxter envisioned an environmental disaster that goes beyond the expected effects of global warming. In his afterword, the author explained that there is some evidence of water (oceans of it) hidden deep within the Earth’s mantle. I guess it was an easy leap for him to wonder – what if all those extra water one day started to seep through the mantle to the Earth’s surface? Where would all that water go?! DUN-dun-DUN
As a child, one of my favorite tales from the bible was the story of Noah and his Arc, and I guess my fascination with the ‘earth drowns’ theme has extended to adulthood since that may be the only reason why I managed to make it to the last page on Flood. No white dove flies in to signal Earth’s renewal, but there was a nice set-up in the end for the book’s sequel (which is actually already out – Ark (Flood 2)). It was a bit of a slog to get to the end as I found the book to be tediously long, and I’m sorry to say that I hated practically all the characters that Mr Baxter chose to concentrate on (starting with his ‘Mary Sue’ USAF Capt. Lily Brooke who I thought was supposed to be a pilot, but seemed to have the skills for practically anything as the story went on). Honestly, they could’ve all drowned for all I cared about them.
What really held my attention in Flood was the extinction event itself – I thought that Mr. Baxter did an outstanding job in illustrating a drowning Earth. There’s a part in the book where a diver explores a drowned London – and later, near the end – where practically what’s left of humankind gathers in rafts around the disappearing peak of Mount Everest – now those were some truly heart-wrenching memorable stuff.
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