by Stephen Baxter
Review by Andrew Brooks
Roc Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451462718
Date: 05 May 2009 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Stephen Baxter's Home Page / Show Official Info /
While I didnít fall in love with every single one of our protagonists, I was interested in the fate of a few, I think Baxter succeeded here. The pacing and patient characterization gives the story something a lot of books in this subgenre lack. Depth. Flood isnít going to be taught on college campuses in the future (unless Mr. Baxter is more prescient than other scientists of our day), but I argue that itís a fairly accurate depiction of the effects such a disaster would have on society, politics and the world as we understand it. Heís thought it through meticulously, and it shows. There are a few characters whose roles seem only to get us to the next plot point, but this is understandable and at times necessary. This isnít a local catastrophe, itís global. Otherwise, the characters do react and respond in ways that make sense. While their jobs take them all over the world, letting us see the flood as it unfolds, there are no invincible heroes here. Baxter also doesnít shy away from allowing his characters to be vulnerable, and there are casualties among the main protagonists. In this respect Flood reminded me of George Stewartís Earth Abides. No last minute race to save the earth in either novel, but a story about survival and acceptance of the inevitable.
The premise is fairly straightforward. Suddenly ocean levels are rising, immediately impacting coastal cities and forcing their populations inland. The scientists discover the cause (not global warming, per se) and that itís not a question of stopping the rising waters, but of how high they will rise before it's all over. Soon entire countries are underwater and the worldís remaining populations are struggling to adapt-something Baxter covers quite well. A lot of this is delivered to the characters second-hand, but is no less chilling for it. All the scenes of disaster are there: rushing waters, mass panic, destruction and the inevitable struggle of the refugees from any major event like this. Baxter includes it all in detail.
Flood is all three, wondrous, horrific and heart breaking. Itís everything I look for in this type of story and more. While some may find the pacing slow at points, the post-apocalyptic world Baxter envisions has been put down on the page with great care and none of the details in any aspect (characterization, scientific explanations, etc) seemed overblown. I recommend highly.