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Arctic Rising    by Tobias S. Buckell order for
Arctic Rising
by Tobias S. Buckell
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Tobias S. Buckell, bestselling author of an excellent far future SF series (Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin, Sly Mongoose), as well as The Cole Protocol: Halo, now brings fans something quite different, but just as good and fast moving - Arctic Rising, a brilliant near future thriller centered on global warming.

His heroine, Anika Duncan, survived a tough African childhood to achieve her dream of becoming an airship pilot. She works for the underfunded United Nations Polar Guard. As Arctic Rising opens, she and her partner are on a routine patrol of the Lancaster Sound, heavy in merchant traffic 'through the once impossible-to-pass Northwest Passage over the top of Canada.' Looking for nuclear waste dumpers, 'ships with radioactive signatures', they find one, and an RPG shoots them down.

They're picked up, but Anika's partner doesn't make it. And though the young crew that shot at the airship claim to be drug runners, Anika doesn't believe their story - and has hard evidence of radioactivity on their ship. Unfortunately that evidence makes her a target and soon she's on the run for her life, leaving a trail of corpses in her wake. Fortunately, Anika has a friend, Violet, who happens to be Baffin Island's drug lord. Vy runs interference with the authorities while her associates help Anika on her way.

Soon, Anika and Caribbean intelligence operative Prudence 'Roo' Jones (whose home island was engulfed by rising waters) are working together to find out what is going on. Roo tells Anika: 'You down the rabbit hole that lies under the real world, unseen by the good people focusing on they daily bread.' There are captures and escapes, support and betrayal as Anika, Roo and Vy follow the trail of a smuggled nuclear weapon to an environmental organization called Gaia. Gaia has developed a powerful new technology, that could undo global warming. Anika wonders who can really be trusted - and she's right to do so.

In Arctic Rising, Tobias S. Buckell paints a clear and credible picture of a world that might well be ahead of us, then fills it with colorful characters and a delightfully convoluted plot. It's worth reading for the fascinating experimental demesnes that control the Arctic Circle alone, for the Gaia founders' view on the systems problem that needs to be addressed to stop global warming, or for Anika's response to an end-justifies-means manipulator. But it's also a gripping, edge-of-your-seat thriller. If any of these aspects interest you, then rush to read Arctic Rising.

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