Friday, May 27, 2011


Flood by Stephen Baxter
Roc, Penguin Group, 2009
Hardcover, 496 pages
ISBN-13: 9780451462718

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.

My Thoughts:

Flood by Stephen Baxter is a novel about a global catastrophe of Biblical proportions. It follows the fate of political hostages Lily, Helen, her baby Grace, Gary, and Pierce. With the help of the billionaire Nathan Lammockson they were freed in 2016 - just in time to face an even bigger adversary: water. The oceans are rapidly rising (not due to global warming) and it looks like they will continue to rise at an alarming rate. Flood basically chronicles the last years of dry land on the Earth, from 2016 to 2052.

Baxter presents a surprising cause of the global flood that also makes for a more dramatic threat. This is a great apocalyptic end-of-the-world disaster novel. (It's also an interesting choice when your weather consists of rain and more rain - which might have served to make it feel even more ominous.) Baxter shares many of the details of the flooding, including the science behind the cause of it and the effect of the changes. As expected, I appreciated this since I enjoy science in my science fiction.

While Baxter does jump ahead in time in order to cover the passing years, the transitions flowed smoothly for me. The years are noted when he moves forward in time as the characters age and deal with an ever-changing world. The rising sea level is also tracked. Baxter also included many chilling details of how society might react and possible outcomes. Characters may not be as fully developed as in some novels, but I thought Baxter had a nice balance between covering the flooding, its scientific cause and effects, and following the characters, mainly Lilly. The flood is the star of the story.

Because my reading time was limited this week, I finally choose to fore go some sleep in order to make more time to finish Flood. This choice alone is a good indication of my recommendation. Baxter continues this story in Ark, which I'm looking forward to reading.

Any hard science fiction fan is going to like Flood. Very Highly Recommended


Every pothole and every crevice in the road was flooded. opening

Lily had in fact been taken by a fundamentalist Muslim group, all those years ago, when her Chinook had been shot down. Now she was being held by Christian extremists. She had been passed from hand to hand over the years like a parcel in a children's game. And still it went on. pg. 4

But they were all white, and all British or American, the categories that made them valuable as hostages. pg. 7

"Things have changed in the five years you've been gone, Captain Brooke." There was distant gunfire, a hollow crump. Camden listened to something, though he wore no earpiece. "I think we're set to get out of here." He walked toward the chopper.
Just for a moment, the four of them were left alone again.
"I guess this is it," Gary said certainly. "After all the months and years."
Lily looked at them, hopeful young Gary, bruised mother Helen, brittle Piers. "We shared something, didn't we?"
"That we did," Helen said. "Which nobody else is ever going to understand."
And now they were released into a world evidently transformed. Lily said impulsively, "Listen. Lets make a vow. We'll stay in contact, the four of us. We'll look out for each other. If one's in trouble, the others come looking. That includes Grace, by the way." pg. 12

The driver said a lot of London's older buildings were being made flood-resilient - having their foundations reinforced, their lower floors lined with sandbags. pg. 18

"Nothing useful," Amanda said. "Not really. Just distractions. What we need is big engineering to keep the flood waters out. The Thames Barrier ought to have been just the start. But that's not the fashion nowadays." pg. 27

"They used to pump it away or drain it, but it's harder now the sea level has risen by a meter." pg. 27

It wasn't just London. Much of the country was in the grip of chronic flooding, which seemed to have become a regular event. pg. 30


Jeanne said...

I loved this one, too. I started reading the sequel, Ark, a couple of weeks ago, and it's not quite as gripping, but I stopped mostly because of trips and family visiting and work interference, not because I didn't want to finish it.

Lori L said...

I have Ark sitting in my TBR pile now, although there are several other books that are currently taking priority over it. I expect I'll get to it this month.