3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Great science fiction, weak as a novel...,
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.