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Ark Hardcover – 20 Aug 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (20 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575080574
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575080577
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 3.9 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 223,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Never has Baxter presented a more thrilling and moving glimpse of a possible future: Ark could well be his masterpiece. (Eric Brown THE GUARDIAN)

A seam of realism runs through the novel, making it more compelling than most shiny, happy dreams of space travel. Even when the equations and technology work, there is no escaping the human factor that fouls up the best-laid plans. This is a grim but exciting tale of the ultimate in pioneering adventure, in the most unforgiving environment of all. (Lisa Tuttle THE TIMES)

An excellently executed novel that dealt in everything from the mundane daily tasks of the crew as they seek out another world brought together with almost impeccable execution. Add to the mix emotional conflict, political infighting and it¿s a novel that could well be his best work to date. (FALCATTA TIMES)

[He] writes brilliantly about what it might be like to experience space travel. This capacity for mixing awe-inspiring vistas with gnarly day-to-day details hasn't diminished. (Jonathan Wright SFX)

"... all too convincing as he imagines the terrible dangers and tensions of such a journey. He shows us that, while it may be easy to preserve Mother Earth as a benign home, it's a simple task compared to colonising new worlds." (Jonathan Wright BBC FOCUS)

Baxter is the natural heir to the hard sci-fi crown of Arthur C Clarke and he shares Clarke's generous imagination and ability to extrapolate a plausible future technology from the cutting-edge theories of today. Imaginative appeal is what counts with Baxter and in that he delivers reliably. (Peter Ingham THE DAILY TELEGRAPH)

Beyond the science and technicalities - which are wonderful, informative, and completely believable - Ark is a story about characters. I loved the writing, the blend of physics, hard science fiction, and compelling plot lines. I loved the emotional turmoil, the self-destructive nature of humanity, and the messiness of survival. Simply put: I loved this book. (THE BOOK SMUGGLERS)

A page turning disaster sequel that shows us a fascinating, terrifying and ultimately hopeful view of humanity's chances in the face of terrific adversity. (SCI FI NOW)

Science fiction told very realistically, through the characters and the science. Perhaps Ark lacks the sheer sense of wonder of some of Baxter¿s previous galaxy-spanning fiction, but this is recession fantasy, with no impoverishment of the imagination. (TOTAL SCIFI) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

In FLOOD Baxter drowned the world, in ARK he shows that mankind's future is no less perilous.

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Format: 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
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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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Format: 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.
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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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