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Ark


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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Ark sets sail, eventually
The follow up to Flood, which though it focused mainly on the ruling class and their friends struggling to survive in a drowning world you couldn't help empathising with those characters and the melancholy was just delicious anyway.

I was all geared up for an immediate blast off into space for the chosen few but was slightly disappointed to discover there was...
Published on 6 Sep 2009 by Chairman Paulo

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Just OK, Read for your of Baxter and Flood
I don't mind a pointless journey or even a depressing one. But Ark did not interest me. It was so distant and had none of the appeal of 'Flood'. Of course how could it? Capture the mood of struggle in a dying and doomed world. But at least that was our world.

Ark set on the same planet at least for the first half focus of course the Ark and the work to make it...
Published on 29 July 2011 by Brace, Brace, Brace


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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Ark sets sail, eventually, 6 Sep 2009
This review is from: Ark (Paperback)
The follow up to Flood, which though it focused mainly on the ruling class and their friends struggling to survive in a drowning world you couldn't help empathising with those characters and the melancholy was just delicious anyway.

I was all geared up for an immediate blast off into space for the chosen few but was slightly disappointed to discover there was 200 pages of flashbacks to negotiate first. This part is very well written and flies along nicely but the story of the flooding was dealt with so well in the first book that I was a little reluctant to return. However despite the candidates for the Ark being spoilt children of billionaires there is little time to dislike them as the story zips along and the moments leading up to the actual launch are certainly worth the wait, very exciting and very dark indeed.

You then get the part of the story I was hoping would have come sooner, the social interaction of a human crew trying to maintain a spaceship on a long journey. This is at times blissfully good but I was a little disappointed with the politics, three times somebody decides a brutal dictatorship is the only way to run onboard society and often nice, sane and intelligent characters do nothing to intervene to stop terrible situations developing. In the end you get the impression the author is saying that it is just human nature that strong people will rise to the top and the rest of us will only work to help society function if a brutal fascist forces us to for the greater good. Kim Stanley Robinson Red Mars (Mars trilogy) or Adam Roberts Salt (Gollancz S.F.) know this is rubbish and do political science much better for example. Like these aspects or not again the story whizzes away and the pages keep turning.

In the final few chapters there are amazingly bitter sweet developments, with enough beauty and tragedy to bring tears to your eyes. The ending is satisfying but at the same time leaving enough plot tangents for more books yet in this series. I very much look forward to reading those; just don't want to read about the rising water level on Earth again please. There is no denying that Ark is a very good read regardless of any weaknesses.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Follow up to Flood, 28 Oct 2009
By 
A. Szczepanek - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ark (Paperback)
I was eagerly looking forward to the sequel to Flood which in itself is a well written vision of a terrifying future. Ark on the whole doesn't disappoint and the way it interconnects with Flood makes you want to read both books back to back again. Explores the dynamics of closed confinement for man really well and I quite like the way (albeit brutally) Stephen Baxter writes about how the ship try and maintain law and order (how to you encarcerate somebody when effectively there whole life is being lived out in confinement. My only regret is that it doesnt seem that any further books are planned in the series - there are lots of subplots which coul dbe explored - no less that of Ark 2
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Space Travel is Hard, 16 Oct 2009
By 
David Weeden (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ark (Paperback)
There's probably a law of the internet that states if you write about fictional super humanly intelligent characters, attempts to illustrate this intelligence will only demonstrate idiocy.
The Ark of the title is a faster-than-light one-of-a-kind spaceship, and perhaps the most important crew member is Zane Glemp who did all the space warp calculations. As the reader isn't expected to understand 21st century relativity, Zane's brilliance is shown by his invention of 'infinite chess' where the board isn't cut out of a plane, but is on the surface of a sphere so 'the right edge was glued to the left, and the upper edge glued to the lower' and the two sets of pieces not only face each other, they're also back-to-back. Fiendish! "Your queen could step backwards and wrap around the world to take your opponent's queen, though she would then fall to the opposing king." Well, only if the second player were at stupid as the first: anyone else would take their opponent's king. Both kings start in check. This is a game which lasts for one move.
There are various references to the Book of Genesis in 'Ark', the most subtle of these being to the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Even when humanity is supposed to be pulling together, at least one character is spreading guilt and misery. However, Baxter seems conflicted about the need for such a device; his thesis seems to be closer to Murphy's Law - things go wrong simply because they can.
'Ark' is deeply pessimistic, about the possibility and even the point of space travel, and about the ability of people to get along. Lisa Tuttle, reviewing 'Ark' in the Times wrote, "the science and technology is under development now; only the speed with which his characters manage to get from theory to practical engineering is improbable." This is to miss the point; space travel is developed so quickly because the prospect of death concentrates the mind wonderfully. In part, Baxter seems to be saying that we won't get our act together unless we're threated with extinction.
Given that Baxter's concern isn't so much with space travel as with how people get on in confined spaces, he could have dropped the whole spaceship bit. There is an 'Ark 2' under the ocean, and maybe that story would have made for a more consistent novel. Like infinite chess, the space programme seems flawed at the design stage. There can only be 80 astronauts, so they have to worry about genetic diversity. But why not send 70 women and a huge sperm bank? One character retrains as a doctor during the long space mission, but at the end, there's only one pilot for the landing shuttle. And no one thought to learn?
'Ark' reminded me too much of Alastair Reynolds' 'Pushing Ice' which was also concerned with glacier-slow power struggles between unsympathetic characters on a very long space-flight.
Still, this is very hard SF, and the exoplanet stuff is really fine.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Just OK, Read for your of Baxter and Flood, 29 July 2011
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This review is from: Ark (Paperback)
I don't mind a pointless journey or even a depressing one. But Ark did not interest me. It was so distant and had none of the appeal of 'Flood'. Of course how could it? Capture the mood of struggle in a dying and doomed world. But at least that was our world.

Ark set on the same planet at least for the first half focus of course the Ark and the work to make it happen. While there is some hard science fiction most what happens afterward is point squabbles between the characters.

Nothing is gained and so much is lost and wasted. That might have been the point but I little reason to care. By the end I don't care about them or their cause. I found it hard to finish.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent sequel with some thought-provoking ideas, 30 Aug 2009
By 
Murf61 (Newry, N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ark (Paperback)
Stephen Baxter is probably one of the best speculative fiction writers around, and 'Ark' should enhance his reputation. Baxter has written several evolutionary novels before; this time he speculates how humans would adapt to life on a spaceship. He picks up almost exactly where 'Flood' left off so you really need to read this first. If you already have, then you are in for a treat.

The book covers the lives of Holle and Kelly from childhood; Grace's childhood taking place during 'Flood'; and all three women after the launch of Ark One. There is plenty of action and drama and some uncomfortable issues are explored. Overall I was gripped by the storyline and characterisations.

Baxter is improving as a writer with each new book and it is in his characterisation that it shows. I particularly liked his telling of events from the womens' perspective. Not many male authors do this well though I wish more would try.

I have given this book 5 stars as I had to read it in one sitting - I just couldn't put it down. Gripping, enthralling and dramatic in parts, 'Ark' is a great read and I for one hope the story continues... I want to know what happens next!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great science fiction, weak as a novel..., 28 Nov 2010
By 
A. J. Poulter "AP" (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ark (Paperback)
Carrying on from where 'Flood' leaves off, this is a modern attempt at a classic global disaster novel, which gets darker and darker. The world is slowly being drowned, as water levels rise relentlessly. The cause is not global warming but the release of water from within the Earth's crust. Since there seems nothing can stop the water rising, plans are made in the US to construct three 'Arks', refuges made possible using technology. Ark 1 is an ocean-going liner, another is an undersea base and the third is a spaceship. The novel is mostly about the construction of this ship and the selection of its crew and what happens to it later.

The spaceship, Ark 3, is designed and built in the Rockies, the last bastion of the Federal government. Lots of research has been done to create this novel and it seems likely the author spent some time touring this area. The torrent of science fictional ideas are the strong point of this novel. Many cast off ideas could form stories or novels themselves. The Russians try to shed water into space by using nukes to nudge an asteroid into collision with the Earth. Culture 'freezes' as people are too engrossed in surviving. There is a plan to cross human genes with the only life guaranteed to survive the deluge, deep sea creatures. And the design of Ark 3 is well done, along with unexpected twists as its mission plays out.

But its crewing is a disaster. 'Candidate' crew form an elite bunch who vie to become polymaths and perfect physical specimens. Yet they are the scions of rich and powerful people. This is simply not believable. Everything seems to end up being run by strong leaders, mostly unelected. One of the Ark 3 crew develops a multiple personality disorder, and the handling of this, along with the 'social engineering' proposed to enable the Ark crew to get along for years, is sketchy. Too often, the stereotypical crew characters become mouthpieces, or strong motivations/reactions get very simple treatment. Even the linear narrative loses the ability to tease the reader with scenes set later in the story arc. And finally, Ark 2 is pretty much ignored as a locale, Ark 1 having had its day in 'Flood'

Overall this is difficult to rate - it is wooden as a novel, but stuffed full of fascinating ideas. It is great science fiction but not a great novel.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great achievement, 15 Mar 2010
By 
Panagiotis Karatasios (Greece) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ark (Paperback)
Before i read this book i believed that "Time Ships" was Baxter's best book and that Aldiss's "Non Stop" was the best book abour generation starships. I was wrong. Ark is a great achievement in all aspects: writing, characters. story. It is Baxter's best book, one that , i think, he will find it difficult to surpass in the future. It is a dark and harsh book.A darkness that comes out from its realism. Humanity and interstellar journy are portraited so reallistically without any illusions or idealizations and the unfold of the story really catchs your breath. It talks about many things explicitly or implicitly: the class divisions of our society ( the rich who will survive an ecological destruction while the masses most propably will be left to their sad destiny), the inherent violence and love for power in human nature, the anavoidable autoritarian regime that will emerge in critical situations, the extreme difficulties of interstellar travel, the hostility of universe to human life. Just read it. I believe that in the coming years it will be considered a science fiction classic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Always unexpected., 16 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Ark (Kindle Edition)
Baxter weaves world's of horror so close to a possible reality it is frightening. As Baxter focus's on human interaction in situations of complexity, his world's become real and their demands realised. Often these are tough choices thrust on an ill prepared people as society, just trying to survive takes on everything Baxter can originate as he works the hard pressed characters through their destiny.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Carried away, 8 Jun 2014
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Good sequel after "Flood"
Helps if you loved "Flood" & have high tolerance threshold for hard science - like me!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A long hard look at humanity, 17 April 2014
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This review is from: Ark (Kindle Edition)
This story is simply captivating. What would happen if the Earth no longer became viable for the vast body of humanity? What if we cast ourselves out among the stars and what might happen on such a journey? Full of wonder, terror and intrigue, this is a book to devour on the road or in your bed in the small hours by candle light.

Pick it up, read it and imagine.
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Ark by Stephen Baxter
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