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Ark [Kindle Edition]

Charles McCarry
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product Description

Earth's wealthiest man attempts to save humanity from an impending apocalypse.

The planet's first and only trillionaire, Henry Peel, did not make his fortune by being a fool. A gifted inventor and scientist, he possesses an imagination on the scale of history's greatest thinkers, and he has turned it to the problem of Earth's core. Two decades ago, scientists learned that the core spins faster than the rest of the planet, storing up a cache of energy that, if released, could cause an earthquake that would obliterate human life. To begin mankind anew, Henry Peel is going to lead us to the stars.

He gathers the world's leading physicists and engineers and asks them to design a spaceship large enough to safeguard a sample of humanity and durable enough to survive a thousand-year voyage. Money is no object, but time is short. The apocalypse is on its way.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1012 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: (1 Jun 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00KFE67G2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #279,505 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bought as a gift. 23 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Difficult to write a review about something you have not read. Bought it as a gift and have no complaints. Arrived on time and in good condition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A footnote on an as yet unwritten review 15 Dec 2011
By Amccarryfan - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I had read pretty much all of McCarry's literary output prior to the recent electronic publications. Some I have read more than once. As my stage name offers, I am a real Charles McCarry "fan" -- much as I find the designation more than a bit unusual for me since I am not even a sports "fan". As such a "fan" I have read and re-read McCarry's novels both because I really enjoy the written style and because the content keeps me coming back to Paul Christopher's perspective on the value of the truth and Mallory's on-the-mark observations on the state of politics in America today.

In short, McCarry is a keen observer, very insightful, and reads with the sort of ease that has become a rarity in American fiction. The Ark is no exception -- and it has as an advantage that it doesn't require any familiarity with the rest of McCarry. The Ark is not only a great read, it is timely-smart with wonderful characters carrying the thoughts. Not surprisingly, it also has an air of the kind of prescience that McCarry often hits on -- as, for example, in his truly unique interpretation of the responsibility for the Kennedy assassination.

One footnote question about The Ark: why in a novel with just about no connections with any previous stories does McCarry turn up re-using the name O. Laster -- ostensibly one of the minor heroes of Shelly's Heart and the pen name of one of The Ark's genuine heroes? To say the least, it comes out of the proverbial left field and I am left wondering "What else have I missed?"

One final note to whomever can make the decision: Please permit all of McCarry's work to be Kindled -- soon! I own the hard copies, but it would be far more convenient to be able to carry the lot on one machine -- and to have them in searchable form.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better as a political thriller than as science fiction 1 Jan 2012
By TChris - Published on
For reasons having to do with the faster rotation of the planet's core than its surface, the Earth will soon experience an apocalyptic event leading to "an interruption of civilization" -- or so predicts Henry Peel, a ultra-wealthy, reclusive genius who rarely errs in matters of science. His solution -- his plan for the salvation of the human race -- is to put a ship in orbit around the Earth before sending it on a thousand year voyage, carrying a few hundred humans and a particular cargo (the precise nature of which isn't revealed until a quarter of the novel has gone by). Henry's solution leads to an ethical debate about the degree to which man should play god, a common theme of science fiction.

For reasons that never seem persuasive, Henry recruits the novel's narrator, a female author, to act as his amanuensis. She faces a more personal threat than the coming apocalypse: a stalker who, having victimized her once, now intends to kill her. At a later point, she encounters (and beds) a somewhat more benign stalker. When she isn't being stalked, she follows Henry and doles out occasional dollops of advice.

I am a fan of Charles McCarry's spy novels. His craftsman-like storytelling ability shows in Ark: steady pace, fluid prose, sharply defined characters. He brings the elements of a thriller to this science fiction novel. In fact, the novel is better as a thriller than as sf. As a political thriller, Ark excels; McCarry's imagining of governmental responses to the private construction of a vast orbiting ark, of Henry's preemption of the less favorable responses, and of the media's coverage of it all, is intelligent and convincing.

As science fiction, however, Ark is acceptable but unexceptional. McCarry tosses out an occasional clever idea -- like using robotic hornets as a defensive weapon -- but the story itself isn't original: both the crisis and the solution are rehashes of concepts familiar to science fiction fans. Henry has visions -- they may be chemically induced or he may have a pipeline to God -- that seem out of place in a technology-driven story. To a large extent, the various concepts that McCarry cobbles together seem unfinished, never cohering into a focused whole.

Still, I enjoyed the story despite its flaws. Among those is McCarry's perpetuation of the myth that any time the police forget to read a suspect his rights the suspect automatically goes free -- a minor plot point that I nonetheless found grating. The suspect (one of the narrator's stalkers) turns into a significant character -- a serial rapist, no less -- whose contribution to the story is minimal despite its intended importance. A better subplot involves the narrator's mysterious lover, but his eventual disappearance from the story left me wondering why he was ever part of it. The larger plot leads to an ending that is in some respects anticlimactic but reasonably satisfying. On the whole, Ark isn't a bad attempt at science fiction, but the reading public will likely be better served if McCarry sticks to the spy novels that are his true forte.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful science fiction from a good writer . . . 7 Mar 2012
By S. Anderson - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've enjoyed McCarry's Christopher novels, and expected a certain level of competence in Ark. It's there, in the storytelling, but the science part of the science fiction is so unbelievable as to ruin the book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Different Arena for McCarry 3 Feb 2013
By Ken - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very well written and enjoyable, as are all of McCarry's wonderful books. But the doomsday science fiction underpinnings are a little dicey (and hopefully wrong) and some of the characters are more than a little unbelievable. However, if you are an admirer of McCarry, and if you've not read his books you absolutely should, you should read this one as well provided you're not expecting a Paul Christopher-type story.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ark takes a dead horse and bets it some more 15 Oct 2012
By Robert Carraher - Published on
Charles McCarry and his `spy' novels featuring Paul Christopher have been my little secret for awhile. McCarry, for my money, is the only spy novelist that can stack up to John John Le Carré. His prose are brilliant, his books are without fail, excellent. But, almost nobody has heard of him.

Despite the same "wink, wink" insiders knowledge shared by Le Carré and McCarry (they both worked for their countries spy agencies at the same time) McCarry is more `old boy' Georgetown, upper crust uber patriot where Le Carré maintains an air of cynical, seedy glamour.

What separates McCarry's Paul Christopher from the usual American spy novel is that he eschews the tongue-in-cheek derring-do of superheroes on the order of James Bond instead writing realistic character studies of complex human beings under stress and the interaction of different cultures and the characters that inhabit those cultures. Additionally, McCarry's story lines somehow seemed drawn from actual CIA case books. In short, they were topical. For instance, The Miernik Dossier (1973). Is the story of how every intelligence agencies on both sides of the Cold War swarm like vultures over an obscure Polish functionary who may be about to defect. There is an air of doubt in the protagonist and in the major players on both sides that lends a certain ambiguity that borders on the mythical.

While trying to determine whether this potential defector, of dubious value, is the real thing or a red herring thrown out as bait by one or the other of the competing sides brings to question just how much time and effort and money was spent by both sides and just what the return on value was for those investments. This moral dilemma weaves through an exciting search for an answer and leads to a vivid chase story through Eastern Europe and the Middle East. And adding another intellectual layer to the plot is an even deeper trek through the mind and personality of Miernik himself, an irritating, untrustworthy, courageous and obstinately undecipherable man in his motivations and importance.

"The Tears of Autumn" was another brilliantly portrayed story dealing with the CIA in Vietnam, almost a sequel to Graham Greene's "The Quiet American." It tells another, rather believable alt-history of the assassination of JFK. Through nearly 40 years of McCarry's spy novels, I felt that I had my own private, intellectual alternative to the adventure-spy novels that were en vogue. Don't get me wrong, a number of McCarry's novels made the NYT Best Seller's List, but they were the type of books that made the list then swiftly disappeared, like one of his characters. What's worse is they went out of print as well.

All of this is in preference to why I picked up Ark when I saw it in the publishers catalog. I was somewhat disappointed when I saw the book was Sc- Fi and not another Paul Christopher novel, but it was not just the subject matter that kept me reading McCarry since the early `70s. It was also for the beauty of his prose, the depth of his stories and the marvelous, flesh and blood character studies.

I grew up on the Sci Fi of Bradbury, Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and others. Writers who put the emphasis on Science in science fiction. I had slowly migrated away from the genre over the past couple of decades when Sci Fi took on more of a fantasy bent, but I figured that with McCarry's talents, and his seeming insider knowledge of the world of government espionage, he might bring that to the world of Sci Fi.

I'm sorry to say that I was wrong. First. Ark takes a dead horse and bets it some more; the world's about to end, and lets save it. Its almost a cliché from plot to print. An apoplectic story that adds nothing to the canon.

The story revolves around the worlds first trillionaire, Henry Peel. Henry starts off as an unbelievable character, not because his net worth is astronomical, but because we are led to believe that he got it all honestly, without making many major enemies of business men or governments. He's also the worlds smartest, most brilliant mind. Equally astronomically talented in science, engineering - all fields of course - mathematics, art, you name it, Henry has it. He'd embarrass the Corona guy. Henry is a recluse, and other than his clichéd genius attributes (his mind tends to wander, he's not a great conversationalist, dresses shabbily, etc...) he's likeable. He's sort of a Bill Gates Howard Hughes mish-mash with rock star overrtones. The odd thing here is that Henry, despite his unrealistic background and trite makeup, is an interesting character study worthy of McCarry's reputation.

Henry has discovered that the world is about to end. The `disaster' is the all too familiar "earths core-swapping poles" variety of disaster. Further, he has calculated the exact date and in genius fashion has come to the conclusion that collectively, all the worlds governments and scientists can't or won't in time, do anything to prevent it or mitigate the outcome. So, he sets out on an ultra secret mission to save mankind, or at least preserve it. He assemble a team of experts in all fields and a team of scientists and engineers from all of his companies to come up with his solution.

The book is narrated by a female author, recruited for her `creative imagination' in solving puzzles in her literature. Her purpose for being recruited is unconvincing, but I guess he needed a writer since she is telling the story. The plan, as it evolves is to build a series of space "Arks" that will transport a few hundred or thousand people into space, sending them on a thousand year mission, carrying a cargo that is not revealed until nearly half way through the book.

There are minor subplots involving the narrator dealing with stalkers, the ethical questions in who to save, how to keep it secret, what to save, etc... there are also the inevitable "leaks" to be plugged, romantic disharmonies and so on. None of these subplot seem to lead the reader to new ground, and most fizzle out before being resolved.

The story further asks the reader to suspend belief in the setting Henry, in his uber genius, choses for building these never before achieved in scope engineering projects under the nose of one of the most suspicious governments in the world. And in their backyard. Throughout the story, the need for secrecy is paramount. If governments catch wind of this project, they would naturally want to take it over and bend Henry's logic, selection process and decisions to their own national goals. So Henry decides to build and launch the Arks from Mongolia. China's neighbor and proxy. China being ultra protective of anything in Asia, and he decides to carry this out under their nose. This grows even more odd, and reeks of misogamy, racism and a Nazi-like "superior race" , among other things, when Henry choses Chinese women, of a particular racial purity as the only ones fit to do repetitive manual labor and have small hands but not be fit to save, he also sets out to"improve" the breeding stock of those chosen to be the progenitors of the human race a thousand years from now.

The only redeeming quality of the book is that McCarry's prose are engaging and will keep the reader reading, despite the other failings. The plot at times is interesting, and believable for stretches (before ultimately falling flat) and Henry Peel, in a twisted way, is likeable despite being alternately, a genius on a par with Asimov's "Mule" of The Foundation Trilogy, a hustler, a mad scientist visionary or an Asperger-ish nerd that owns half the worlds money supply and has options on the other half. Discounting the pedestrian nature of the coming disaster, Henry's plan to save mankind seems heroic and unselfish and then tainted with "master race" motivations. In total, a jig-saw puzzle of a novel with a lot of pieces missing.

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