Book Review: Arctic Rising by Tobias S. Buckell—and a Giveaway!

Find out after the review how to be entered in the drawing for a

hardcover copy of Arctic Rising by Tobias S. Buckell.

Arctic Rising
Tobias S. Buckell
Tor Books, February 2012
ISBN 978-0-7653-1921-0

In a not very distant future, global warming has succeeded in melting nearly all of the Arctic icecap and the results are what we should probably expect. Massive oil fields previously buried are now available for the taking and a new global economy has grown up around the remnants of the ice. Countries and corporations vie for top dog position with Canada having a territorial edge and a world much like the American Wild West has developed. True to human nature, men and women are there for the jobs, the pay, the hard work and the freewheeling atmosphere. Law and order exist in an overbearing sort of way side-by-side with the usual criminal activities and tiny new countries have sprung up that give allegiance to no one but themselves.

All this open water has also created new places to dump waste, nuclear and otherwise, and the United Nations Polar Guard monitors the Northwest Passage for hints of radioactive materials. Anika Duncan pilots an airship in the fleet and, when she detects radiation coming from a ship, she flies lower to investigate with devastating effects. Within hours, she’ll be hunted as a criminal herself and must go on the run, searching for answers. Anika can only trust a mercenary spy and an unusual drug lord and the three have journeys that are intense enough to keep the reader up at night and wondering, along with our heroes, whether there really is a nuclear weapon in the wrong hands.

Also interrupting the reader’s sleep is the parallel story of a benevolent corporation that has developed a method of cooling the planet. Unfortunately, their wondrous product is the target of the greed of others who want to control this potential weapon of incredible destruction and also to the warping of their own good intentions. Eventually, it becomes plain that there is a connection to the answers Anika is searching for and the ultimate mystery becomes not whether the new Arctic community, and the planet, will survive but how and at what price.

Although this is billed as ecological science fiction, it’s also a mystery and a thriller of the highest order. Not being entirely on the global warming bandwagon, I was a bit concerned that the message would be heavy-handed, almost overbearing, but that’s not the case. Buckell makes his point about where humanity is headed in a very palatable fashion and I appreciate that. When it comes to political agendas in fiction, I prefer that the author make his case within the entertainment and let me come to my own conclusions and Buckell has done that. Amongst all the history and science and foretelling of the future, one phrase still sticks in my mind and it’s enough for me:

“this is how you could pass over the last of the polar bear’s territory, all four hundred of them”

Anika is a kickbutt protagonist with a really interesting background. She’s smart and determined and very brave and her pals, Vy and Roo, are no less intriguing. Some of the ethical choices they have to make are heartrending and their strong but compassionate characters become very evident. I have no idea whether Buckell intends a follow-up but I would be delighted to see these three in another adventure. I also think Arctic Rising would make a terrific action-adventure movie in the Bourne tradition.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2012.

Leave a comment below between now and Tuesday night to be

entered in the drawing for a hardcover copy of

Arctic Rising by Tobias S. Buckell.

The winning name will be drawn Tuesday night and

announced on Wednesday, March 7th.