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4.0 out of 5 stars
54
4.0 out of 5 stars
Ark
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VINE VOICEon 28 March 2010
I was at first disappointed to face a long flashback at the beginning of this novel but Baxter soon drew me in with his account of Holle's childhood and her experiences as a `Candidate' for a dangerous mission, and a final(?) chance to save humanity. The competition to remain a candidate is fierce, and the consequences of failure almost unthinkable, as Baxter describes what life is like for the millions of refugees scrabbling to drag out an existence on the quickly shrinking remnants of dry land.

As in `Flood' Baxter manages to sustain the reader's interest in a large cast of characters over an extended time frame. His account of the crew's long voyage to a possible new earth is full of tension, as characters compete for power and resources. It is also inventive - he offers a convincing glimpse of how a shipborn generation might be different from their earth born parents - and thought-provoking - he forces his characters, and his readers, to confront agonising ethical dilemmas sparked by the conflicts between individual freedom and the good of the wider group.

I always enjoy reflexivity and so one minor plot strand particularly appealed - some of the crew started developing a `Capricorn One' style conspiracy theory and imagine that they are all part of some elaborate earth based simulation. On one level their urge to find coincidences and oddnesses in their adventures is paranoid and fanciful - on another level they are of course quite right to suspect that their world is a simulation! There's a sense of things being wrapped up in a bit of a hurry as we reach the final pages but I certainly finished the novel hoping that Baxter will provide a further instalment.
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VINE VOICEon 14 September 2009
Having been wading hip deep in the water in Flood, I really couldn't wait to see where Stephen took the series in the second novel, Ark, so when it landed I stocked myself up with provisions and pretty much got stuck in straight away as there's no better speculative fiction author than Stephen.

What I got for my time was 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. That said however make sure you read the first novel, Flood, before joining the crew on this mission, as you won't get the full flavour of Earth's possible future without it.
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on 10 July 2013
I enjoyed this book soooo much, maybe even more than flood! It was so interesting and exciting with lots of unexpected things happening.

I enjoyed the story of the flood from a different perspective of the candidates fighing for a spot on the space ship and the journey to another planet was amazing.

Great characters and plot. I didn't want it to end and I hope he makes a 3rd book in this series! x
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on 16 June 2014
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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VINE VOICEon 23 September 2009
Although you could read this on its own I would really recommend that you read FLOOD first because a number of the crucual characters are carry overs from the first book - and I have to say there feels like there may be a third in this series.

Its written at a cracking pace with great descriptionsof the advance of the waters on Earth and the resultant breakdown of society.
The main part of the story is the spaceflight of the ARK to what promises to be an Earth like planet. What he does in telling this is why I just gave it four stars - because basically the journey seems to be the thing rather than what they do there.

Then the crew story effectively breaks into three parts - none of which is concluded or explored by the end if the book. So describing the Earth 2 (and then the possibility of Earth 3 ) without describing what happens to the crew just felt incomplete - and why I think there may be a third book)
Likewise with the portion of the crew that discover how they survived on Earth - don;t want to spoil how they find out - and the survival on Earth is also left unpexplored

But the ARK journey is well done - and has a certain inevitiability about it - so all I'd say is thats what to expect - and lets hope we get the story concluded in a third part
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on 20 September 2010
British SF continues to mistake miserabilism for creativity. The apocalyptic dictator-led dystopia is so well-worn as a cliche that a book like this should have a buy-one-doom-get-five-free sticker on the front. It's not that Baxter does it badly - it's more that he brings nothing new to the table, and lazily fills it with the usual collection of largely unsympathetic bickering characters in situations of aggressively limitless Darwinian pessimism. The destruction of all we hold dear plods along with the inevitability of an episode of Eastenders in space, with a bit of hand-wavey hard science to flesh out the details.

Are commissioning editors really not finding anything more original and exciting in their slush piles? Perhaps not - but compared to the SF of the 60s and 70s this is dull, dull stuff, and does little to entertain, inform, or inspire.
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on 29 July 2011
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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VINE VOICEon 13 June 2011
After the Baxter's Flood, which managed to balance excitement, science and character development, Ark's structure is definitely a departure from that style. Ark is glacially paced, with very little action that offers any impact. Once again the story arc spans many decades, following the events leading to an expedition to the stars. It's epic in its scale and the science well explained and relatively accessible. The characters are well developed however, for the most, they are rather unlikeable. The characters from the first book are just wallpaper to bookend the story, so don't expect a true sequel with the same cast as the heroes. Ark as a standalone story would be a decent read, however is disappointing as a direct follow-on to Flood.
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on 29 January 2013
This is an average book, but much better than Flood, which Ark continues the story of what happens to a select few humans after Earth is turned into a water world. It's constant leaping through time and skimming the events that happen in the lives of our heroes can get irritating, especially when big events happen but before they are developed you leap forward a few years, this leaves you left with a lot of anti-climaxes and disappointment. Both Flood and Ark would have been better if they spread over a series of books rather condensed into just two books.
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on 2 September 2015
A very fine continuation of the story started in Flood, didn't expect it to go interplanetary but a real good read that takes a deep look at what long term space travel might involve
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