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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Requiem For a Drowned World (4.5 Stars ****)
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...
Published on 26 Oct 2008 by G. J. Oxley

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Let down by poor characterisation
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...
Published on 7 Sep 2009 by D. P. Mankin


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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 "Gaz" (Tyne & Wear, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flood (Hardcover)
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. The author comes up with a fairly plausible reason for the scenario - and guess what? - we're responsible! But I'll say no more about this aspect, as I don't want to spoil the book for readers.

This is a big fat tome but I galloped through it very quickly. There are a lot of evocative scenes that resonate in the mind long after the book is finished, and it reminded me of why I fell in love with SF in the first place some thirty years ago. I for one am greatly looking forward to the follow-up `Ark', due out next year.
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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
By 
D. P. Mankin (Ceredigion, Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flood (Paperback)
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
This review is from: Flood (Paperback)
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
By 
Eoin Lynch - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flood (Paperback)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Another great British disaster novel, 29 Oct 2009
By 
A. J. Poulter "AP" (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flood (Paperback)
This is another offering in the grand tradition of British disaster novels. No triffids, Martian invaders or death of grass here, just lots and lots of water. The early scenes feature storms and record high tides, as parts of the eastern coast of England get swamped. This is definitely not fun to read while commuting on the Docklands Light Railway, in the East End of London, near the Thames barrier, as I was for the early chapters. The accepted explanation is global warming, but it slowly becomes clear that there is no connection between the melting poles and the ever escalating rise in sea level. Pretty much up until the end though, this self-deluding assumption is never challenged as people cannot accept what is happening.

The global catastrophe is seen through the eyes of a handful of core characters, who 'meet' as hostages of various extremist groups in a Spain disintegrating into political, religious and ethnic factions. There is a relic here of the Time's Tapestry series, as parts of the research for that series of novels pops up again to justify a fractured Spain.

The hostages' rescuer, Nathan Lammockson, a canny and ruthless tycoon, is perhaps the only person who mounts a continual struggle against calamity. There is plenty of research in this novel to explain the sea level rise, and illustrate how things start to fall apart, with little vignettes from all over the world. One of the main roles of the core set of characters is to be recipients of these dollops of knowledge, or to get involved in escapades which require context/background.

And from the research come plenty of memorable scenes in the novel. The destruction of motorways out of London to keep the homeless trapped in the metropolis. The Statue of Liberty sinking beneath the waves. The Pope being helicoptered out of a drowning Vatican. An ocean liner being built by Lammockson on an Andean peak, as a 'ark' of refuge to be floated later by rising waters. Big Ben seen through the windows of a deep sea vessel. Civilisation reduced to fleets of rafts and sargasso seas full of floating plastic rubbish. And Everest itself eventually going under the waves.

While the prose does not really rise to the challenge of the some of the scenes in this novel, the ideas are well-worked out and things are set up for a gripping sequel.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Start swimming now..., 20 Oct 2009
By 
Stuart Mcmillan (Glasgow, Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flood (Paperback)
Stephen Baxter seems to be brilliant at picking up on some bonkers bit of science and blowing us all up with it. Moonseed managed to change the face of the planet in one way and 'flood' picks up on the current science of climate change and sea-level rise and runs with it, creating a never-ending deluge (where does it all come from?) that takes real-science predictions and just keeps on going.

The protagonists are invented from a sealed-off group of hostages who've been kept out of the news and the public eye for 5 years and have no idea just how fast and how deep (pun intended) the waters round the world have got.

It's pretty quickly clear that the scientific establishment hasn't yet got their head around the impending catastrophe and poor planning and it takes continued sea-level rise for a few smart men to start making shrewd investments around planning for the future. (Shades of 'When Worlds Collide' here).

The hostages are used as a thread through the tapestry that is the unfolding of the unceasing and unrelenting rise of the waters around the world. The sea itself and the shrinking land are the major players here, the people merely playing out a destiny in the destruction of the earth.

The ensemble cast plays out the role of narrator and protagonist and creates a sequence of possibilities for the salvation or damnation of mankind, neatly setting the scene for the subsequent novel, 'Ark'.

I enjoyed the book, but the sheer scale of Baxter's canvass makes for characters that struggle to be heard against the vision. Any one thread would have been enough to follow, but the constant intermingling dilutes the intensity of feeling for the people's narrative that would've made something more meaningful.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Where's the plug? Who left the tap on?, 19 Oct 2009
By 
Russell G. Pottinger (Dundee) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flood (Paperback)
You really don't get many bigger ideas than the end of the world, and in this case this is exactly what we get in an epic 40 year span. The world is slowly drowning from a release of underground water, lookup Beijing Anomaly to see that there is (theoretically) plenty of water locked up in the crust of the earth, and simply put there is nothing that anyone can do to stop it.

The book follows a few main protagonists from their humble beginnings as hostages in Spain, just as the flooding begins to manifest itself. The confusion of the initial floodings of the coastal cities of the world, through the various fights for survival, to the eventual transformation of the planet and its people.

Maybe the book is intended to be a bit of a grind to represent the struggle that these people have to endure over such a long time. Or maybe it is simply hard to empathise with the main characters because of some of the strange decisions made by them.

I am unsure about this book and feel I will have to go back and read it again after I have finished Ark. Is it longwinded and the characters poorly realised, or is it simply epic in its nature?

Definitely worth a read if you like grand ideas, but probably not for someone looking for a easy read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flood, 4 Oct 2009
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This review is from: Flood (Paperback)
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
By 
V. Hayrabedian (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flood (Paperback)
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'). His 'love' continues through him killing people she loves, and everyone around him tolerating this kind of behaviour because 'he can't help it'.

Meanwhile, billions of people die in between chapters, unmentioned and unnoticed.

Baxter's idea is strong, solid. There was real potential there, especially in the first third. But his relationships are unconvincing, and there is too much pseudo-science here for the book to hold water (!) otherwise. Most of all, he tries to turn a human tragedy into a political discussion by focusing on the most privileged strata, those that somehow always come out on top. What would have been much more interesting would be more of a focus on the less-fortunate, those that have to struggle to survive, rather than simply be affiliated with a multinational.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Slow, but an interesting and well thought-out premise, 31 May 2009
By 
M. Appleton - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Flood (Paperback)
After reading "Time" I was quite impressed with Baxter, so I decided to give F a whirl.

It isn't as "hard" a sci-fi as I was expecting, focussing much more on human elements (such as the evolving politics of the rapidly-diminishing landmasses). It was very logical, though, to focus on a small group of characters, since such a large-scale and long-term disaster as the whole Earth flooding might not resonate with the reader if written in a factual "god's eye" POV. Interestingly, Baxter eschews the obvious global-warming as a cause for the flooding, which I liked.

For me, though, there was precious little actual science on offer; many a time a ten-page exposition of, for example, the search for a former kidnapee's daughter had me putting the book down in sheer frustration - get back to the flood!

Perhaps I shouldn't have compared it to "Time", as it's a completely different animal, but for me "Time" set a precident that F just couldn't follow.
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Flood
Flood by Stephen Baxter (Paperback - 9 July 2009)
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