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Flood [Paperback]

Stephen Baxter
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
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Book Description

9 July 2009

Next year. Sea levels begin to rise. The change is far more rapid than any climate change predictions; metres a year. Within two years London, only 15 metres above the sea, is drowned. New York follows, the Pope gives his last address from the Vatican, Mecca disappears beneath the waves.

Where is all the water coming from? Scientists estimate that the earth was formed with seas 30 times in volume their current levels. Most of that water was burnt off by the sun but some was locked in the earth's mantle. For the tip of Everest to disappear beneath the waters would require the seas to triple their volume. That amount of water is still much less than 1% of the earth's volume. And somehow it is being released. The world is drowning. The biblical flood has returned.

And the rate of increase is building all the time. Mankind is on the run, heading for high ground. Nuclear submarines prowl through clouds of corpses rising from drowned cities, populations are decimated and finally the dreadful truth is known. Before 50 years have passed there will be nowhere left to run.

FLOOD tells the story of mankind's final years on earth. The stories of a small group of people caught up in the struggle to survive are woven into a tale of unimaginable global disaster. And the hope offered for a unlucky few by a second great ark . . .

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (9 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575084820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575084827
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 140,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Baxter is the pre-eminent SF writer of his generation. Published around the world he has also won major awards in the UK, US, Germany, and Japan. Born in 1957 he has degrees from Cambridge and Southampton. He lives in Northumberland with his wife.

Here are the Destiny's Children novels in series order:


Time's Tapestry novels in series order:

Navigator Weaver

Flood novels:


Time Odyssey series (with Arthur C Clarke):

Time's Eye

Manifold series:

Phase Space

Mammoth series:

Mammoth (aka Silverhair)
Long Tusk
Ice Bones

NASA trilogy:


Xeelee sequence:

Timelike Infinity
Vacuum Diagrams (linked short stories)
The Xeelee Omnibus (Raft, Timelike Infinity, Flux, Ring)

The Web series for Young Adults:


Coming in 2010:

Stone Spring - book one of the Northland series

Product Description


Baxter's vision of a drowning earth is compelling. (Lisa Tuttle THE TIMES)

A central narrative that's as relentless as a Panzer sweeping across lowland France in 1940. Amid huge events, the author still finds time for the intimate, the human-sized. (Jonathan Wright SFX)

He retains that uniquely easy way of dramatizing scientific possibilities into an engaging survivial narrative, while throwing in some satirical barbs. (STARBURST)

'FLOOD has an increasing sense of gravitas, and even, by the end, a genuine weight of mourning. It's actually a novel that gains in power as it goes along, and as it becomes increasingly apparent that no miracle technofixes are in sight. A largely old fashioned disaster tale presented with spectacle and efficient pacing' (LOCUS)

"Covering events from the UK to the US, from Australia to Tibet, this is a comprehensive disaster novel that has a very global feel. Perhaps mostly this book is an homage to human survivability - we endure should be our motto. [It] deserves to sit high on the blockbuster shelves." (SFFWORLD)

"For once a modern SF book where the central science doesn't need the reader to have memorised advanced quantum theory beforehand. Flood is a superbly enjoyable SF novel, although those living close to the sea may feel a bit nervous after reading it. And before anyone asks, yes, it's better than Waterworld. (THE WERTZONE)

Bold, compassionate, exhilarating, wrenching stuff. (Niall Harrison INTERNET REVIEW OF SF)

"A gripping near-future allegory of global warming. At times, Baxter's narrative is as relentless as the inexorable waters, but that, you suspect, is his idea Deeply scary." (Jonathan Wright BBC FOCUS)

"There is a degree of optimism throughout that belies any biblical doom; the world may be changed irrevocably, but there can still be a place for humanity." (Paul cocburn INTERZONE)

The ever readable Baxter has a page-flipper in Flood. It will make you fidget in your beach chair this summer. It is not just a literary come-uppance for climate change deniers; it will give everyone pause to think. (John C. Snider SCI FI DIMENSIONS)

Baxter never loses sight in the bigger picture of the effect of the flood on the lives of individuals, societies and nations. The cast might be extensive, but the lives of the major players are skilfully interwoven with the plight of the planet. The sequel, Ark, will continue this enthralling story. (Eric Brown GUARDIAN) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

The ultimate disaster - the world is drowning and there is nowhere left on earth to go. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Requiem For a Drowned World (4.5 Stars ****) 26 Oct 2008
By G. J. Oxley TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book begins in 2016 with the story of five hostages held in Barcelona, where it's raining heavily and won't stop. They're rescued by a team sent by Nathan Lomockson - a technocrat and very rich man - but not before one of them is brutally killed. The remaining four pledge to look out for each other from then on. Lomockson himself takes a lifelong interest in each of them, and their fates thereafter are tied in with his. The ensuing events in the novel take place over a span of around sixty years.

The narrative moves forward by chronological increments as the world's water level increases, and continues to rise. The episodic structure suits the book perfectly - it's a neat narrative trick. Baxter provides us with a series of snapshots of important events and details the human reaction to each stage of the increase.

Nathan sets himself up as a would-be saviour of the world. He appears at pivotal points throughout the story as the sea levels rise higher and higher, and we see the impact of important events on his and/or one or more of the former hostages. Although a hard-boiled, nuts and bolts SF writer, Stephen Baxter realises that his book would be nothing if the reader weren't allowed to engage emotionally with the characters.

And even though the characterisation isn't as strong as your average mainstream writer's, it's still good enough to carry the story of the watery death of an entire planet.

If you remember back to your schooldays (a harder and harder job for some of us!) the hydrologic cycle taught us that there is not one extra drop of water now than there was at the time of creation. So where is the extra water coming from? Melting icecaps? That would only be responsible for a limited increase.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Let down by poor characterisation 7 Sep 2009
This is a plot-driven novel that makes a good holiday read. It is a shame that Baxter struggles with characterisation (indeed this aspect is virtually non-existent). So don't expect any deep psychgological insights - characters are little more than ciphers for plot developments. It is this failing that limits the book's ambitions and prevents it from being ranked alongside apocalyptic classics by John Christopher, Margarer Atwood, Cormac McCarthy and so on. I felt the ending was rather a non-event (clearly a sequel was in mind and this somewhat ruined the potential for any thought-provoking conclusion).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant idea, perhaps a bit drawn out... 6 Nov 2010
By Kralia
I really enjoyed reading this, the idea behind it is terrifying and that alone keeps you reading just to find out what's going to happen. It really feeds your imagination, the mental images you get whilst reading Baxter's descriptions of a flooding world. However, in parts I found myself bored and a bit overwhelmed by all the science he includes. At first it's interesting stuff, but I ended up flicking past a lot of it as it got very boring and unnecessary; much like listening to a Science teacher going off on a tangent that you can't follow! I wonder if it would have made a better story if there were more mystery surrounding the flooding, or in other words a heck of a lot less science.

Would have also liked more insight into the flooding from the point of view of other, more "normal" characters. The gang you follow seem never to be in the worst of it, meaning that sometimes you don't get that sense of panic, dread and imminent danger that makes the idea of a flooding world so chilling.

Despite that, a very worthwhile and impressive read, can't wait to start reading the sequel!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been great 14 Sep 2009
The book doesn't live up to the great premise and indeed after a good opening third it kind of meanders to a so-so conclusion. I'm a fan of Baxter's and am familiar with his unsympathetic characters. In this book however the principal character (Lily) is dull. Merely an observer of events. I was expecting a book full of harrowing scenes (War, plague, famine etc) but instead we get the passive characters meeting up every now and again to infodump how high the water is and what landmark has now been drowned beneath the sea. Most of the principle characters are sheltered under the wing of a visionary billionaire and so get to ride out the flood in relative comfort while the rest of humanity goes down the plug hole. The best thing about the book is the maps showing the diminishing continents as the waters rise. The book is still worth a read but could have been so much better.

The sequel - Ark - looks promising and again the protagonists are women. 3 of them. Come on Baxter! Give us a break. Do you not think you're overdoing it a bit with all the strong sensible female heroes and weak, ineffective, greedy, and puffed up males? It's all a bit too BBC.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flood 4 Oct 2009
Finding this book a bit of a slog, rather longwinded and one gets the feeling there is a lot of padding out of the story. Not really enough pace for me but I am hoping to finish, unless it gets more boring and then it will be consigned to the box in the loft.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Amazing scope - shame about the execution 6 July 2009
The story of a great flood drowning the world is an interesting premise, and could have been a truly fantastic read. Baxter makes a dutiful effort in walking us through the shock felt by the near-Earth's inhabitants when the waters rise and don't subside. I enjoyed the set-up for his protagonists, as they, too, have been separated from this world by a few years and can therefore justifiable be confused. As they learn, we learn, and it helps to avoid exposition dumps (at least in the beginning of the novel).

as we progress, however, it becomes apparent that there isn't really a point to the story, except perhaps 'humans deserve it'. We don't see the human cost of suffering - we're always with the survivors, and they don't seem to spend much time thinking about anyone they've lost. Main characters are killed out of sight, and the constant influx of dozens of new characters, all given equal weight, is disorienting. The human relationships become more and more unbelievable as the story progresses, with mothers refusing to talk to their children even in this drowned world because of who they shack up with, people being passed around like objects, and allegiances changing every chapter. Most frustratingly, a lot of weight is placed mid-way through until the end on the relationship between our protagonist and one of her former hostage friends. A romantic relationship is manufactured out of thin air, and we are later informed that the middle-aged man is in fact in love with the protagonist's niece. Given that the last time we met said niece she was 16, that's a little creepy. (This also follows some other suvivalist also trying to walk off with the girl, a la '28 Days Later').
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars This book was never going to have a happy ending but it was still a...
I found this book quite a disturbing read. Although a work of fiction it left me feeling quite disturbed that it could happen. Read more
Published 1 month ago by 55 Not Out
3.0 out of 5 stars OK. A bit too factual rather than engaging.
A fairly good read, but I struggled to connect with the characters, for some reason. It almost felt like an abridged biography rather than a novel in places. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Daniel Fairhead
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and dramatic read
Really enjoyed this. Great writer, great drama, great story, great science. A true Cli fi novel :)
Have just got 'Ark' and can't wait to read it
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Washed away
Loved it - mesmerizing - had to read it twice, it was so good.
For hard science fans only, Sorry!
Published 3 months ago by Rudiroo
4.0 out of 5 stars Son says it's 'brill'
My son read this book in just a few days - barely put it down. I suspect that his reading speed is a review in itself.
Published 3 months ago by lizt
1.0 out of 5 stars A disaster of a novel
This book has no literary merit whatsoever. It is clichéd and the characters are one-dimensional. It is also incredibly tedious. Read more
Published 3 months ago by dikdok
2.0 out of 5 stars Good price and fast delivery: boring book.
The book was a really good price and arrived quickly and in good condition. The first chapter was exciting but then it got really boring so I gave it to the local charity shop. Read more
Published 3 months ago by A. J. Griffiths
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
One of the best books I've read in years. From start to finish I couldn't put it down. Highly recommended.
Published 5 months ago by James
5.0 out of 5 stars the flood by stephen baxter
I am not a book lover but the wife is and she loved it and she thoug that the quality of the book was exerlent thanks
Published 6 months ago by Mr G Adams
2.0 out of 5 stars Hugely Disapointing
I am afraid I did not make it all the way to the end of this book. I bought it because I really enjoyed Moonseed and hoped this would be as bigger page turner - it wasn't. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jennie240575
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