Arctic Rising by Tobias Buckell

Arctic Rising by Tobias Buckell
Tor/Feb. 28, 2012
Kind thanks to Tor for providing a review copy

Global warming has transformed the Earth, and it’s about to get even hotter. The Arctic Ice Cap has all but melted, and the international community is racing desperately to claim the massive amounts of oil beneath the newly accessible ocean.

Enter the Gaia Corporation. Its two founders have come up with a plan to roll back global warming. Thousands of tiny mirrors floating in the air can create a giant sunshade, capable of redirecting heat and cooling the earth’s surface. They plan to terraform Earth to save it from itself—but in doing so, they have created a superweapon the likes of which the world has never seen.

Anika Duncan is an airship pilot for the underfunded United Nations Polar Guard. She’s intent on capturing a smuggled nuclear weapon that has made it into the Polar Circle and bringing the smugglers to justice.

Anika finds herself caught up in a plot by a cabal of military agencies and corporations who want Gaia Corporation stopped. But when Gaia Corp loses control of their superweapon, it will be Anika who has to decide the future of the world. The nuclear weapon she has risked her life to find is the only thing that can stop the floating sunshade after it falls into the wrong hands.

Arctic Rising begins with somewhat of a bang when Anika Duncan is shot down in her airship after she and her partner attempt to investigate a ship that may be smuggling dangerous material. Anika survives the attack, but her partner, Tom, is injured, and after visiting him in the hospital, she returns home to recuperate. Relaxation is short-lived, however, when she receives a call bearing more bad news, plus she’s asked to identify the men that supposedly attempted to shoot her down. Something else is in the works, though, something much worse than the dumping of hazardous materials. After taking a tour of the ship that attacked her, she finds a mysterious floating orb and smuggles it out, only to have to turn it over to higher officials. It turns out these orbs are part of a plan by the Gaia Corp. to stop warming and halt the melting of the Arctic ice. But, is this the best thing for the earth? Someone doesn’t think so, and plans to use a nuclear weapon to stop Gaia. Anika Duncan, bent on revenge, will have to use every one of her resources to get justice, but will it cost her her life?

In a future world where global warming is no longer just a warning, and where the polar ice is melting at alarming rates, things have certainly changed, and the author wastes no time mining this scenario to create a fascinating setting for Arctic Rising. Anika, still young and a bit idealistic, wastes no time making the decision to go after the bad guys, especially after attempts on her life. She’s no innocent though, and her background gave her plenty of backbone and bravery. After teaming up with a former mercenary,and a beautiful drug dealer, Anika pretty much stops at nothing to do the right thing, and this is what I really liked about her. The author has plenty of fascinating ideas on the environment, eco-terrorism, consumerism, and the possible future of our world, which are on prominent display here, but he also focuses on the humanity of his characters, even the “bad guys”. You might want to cuddle up with a warm blanket while reading this one though, because even though the Arctic is warming, it’ll still make you shiver, for more reasons than one. Fast-paced, exciting, and sometimes brutal, fans of sci-fi and ecologically focused thrillers will love this one. Definitely not to be missed!

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