Arctic Rising

Tobias Bucknell’s Arctic Rising is a near-future science fiction techno-thriller that leads the cast, and the reader, at a breakneck paced tour of a thawed Arctic. Unfortunately for our heroine, she’s on this tour because someone really is out to get her. Fortunately for the reader, figuring out who turns up a grand scheme that keeps the reader guessing until the very end.

It’s also kind of a pre-apocalyptic story of eco-terrorism. What do I mean by pre-apocalyptic? The apocalypse hasn’t happened, yet, but if events in this story go pear-shaped, well, you can definitely see the apocalypse from here.

Anika Duncan begins the story as an airship pilot for the United National Polar Guard. The UNPG has airships patrolling the waters of the Arctic Circle to check for drug smuggling and occasionally nuclear waste dumping. Why? Because airships (read blimps) are cheap on fuel and fossil fuels are expensive and running out. Why are they needed? Because the Arctic Ice Cap has melted, and all that ocean is pretty empty. There’s nobody looking. Nuclear waste, as we already know, is a pain to get rid of. Dumping it in deep water no one is watching is cheap.

But when Anika’s gear pings a radioactive hotspot on the ship below her, she sets of a chain reaction of events much bigger than she could ever have imagined. The crew of the unidentified ship brings out heavy artillery and brings down her ship. Then they ram the debris. Crash landing in the Arctic Ocean is a fast way to die of hypothermia.

Anika’s co-pilot makes it to the hospital, but dies of his injuries. Anika did a better job getting her survival suit zipped up, so she is okay physically, but someone tries to run her off the road. And that’s only the first attempt on her life. Her house is blown up. She’s arrested by men who have no identity.

A friend —  who wants to be her girlfriend — smuggles her out. Anika’s friend Vy is a criminal, but Vy has connections. Right now, Anika needs friends in low-places just to figure out what is going on. But the more she discovers, the crazier things get. And the more collateral damage piles up around her.

Somebody wants to terraform the Earth, to turn back the global warming clock. They’ve even found a way to do it. But there are a lot of powerful people and corporations who like things just fine the way they are, and don’t want to change. They’re willing to let the future take care of itself.

Some of those people have found a nuke. Anika and her friends are caught in the middle. At Ground Zero.

Escape Rating A-: This is one of those books where you just saddle up and hang on for the ride. The story is all about the thrills and chills, and it has plenty.

Something about this story that ties into reality is the opening of the Northwest Passage. In the 1800s, explorers searched, and died, seeking the fabled Northwest Passage over the top of Canada from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. The story of Sir John Franklin’s Expedition is especially interesting, because they found mummies from some members of the party in the 1980s.

The Northwest Passage is opening. Bowhead and gray whales have managed to make the crossing from the Pacific to the Atlantic through the Passage for the first time in centuries. A cruise ship sailed through the Passage in 2006 and a commercial freighter in 2008.

The other neat, funny, cool thing was the portrait of the new Arctic as the really, really last frontier, the place where everyone gets to be an extreme individualist. I lived in Anchorage for three years, and Bucknell’s portrait of the new Arctic was Alaska taken several steps further. Which totally worked.

Arctic Rising is one of those books where you read it and you keep thinking that things can’t get any crazier for the main characters, and yet, they do. And it just makes you want to keep reading even more!

What’s on my (mostly virtual) nightstand? 2-19-12

One of my favorite Heinlein quotes is “Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get”. Which is probably a signal for me to stop writing about the weather. It is what it is.

I have an overly full nightstand this week. And as usual, it’s my own fault. I’ve always collected books. I see so many I want to read, then I forget that egalleys have either deadlines or the permission timebombs.

And then there are these other fascinating books over here…

But the ones I’m supposed to read are over in this corner. So without further ado, here is my pile of upcoming reading.

There were two books from Carina Press that I couldn’t resist. Synthetic Dreams by Kim Knox looks like SFR of the cyberpunk persuasion. Science fiction romance is always a draw for me, and this looked interesting, and I confess, short.  The other is Under Her Brass Corset by Brenda Williamson.  With a title like that, it had to be steampunk. Based on the cover image, this may mix steampunk and pirates. Sounds like quite a ride!

I get most of my egalleys from NetGalley, but I am also able to get a few from the other egalley service, Edelweiss. Sarah MacLean’s latest book, A Rogue by Any Other Name, is one of the first I was able to get from them. It’s her first in a new pre-Victorian series, The First Rule of Scoundrels, and it looks like fun.

C.E. Murphy is one of my favorite urban fantasy authors. I love her Walker Papers series. The only problem is that I can’t remember where I left off. Raven Calls is book seven. I’m sure I’ve read the first three, but after that I’m fuzzy about where I left off. I sense a marathon Walker Papers session in my future and I’m looking forward to it.

Speaking of marathon reading sessions, one of the other books I have coming up is The Traitor in the Tunnel, the third book in The Agency series by Y.S. Lee. The Agency is a YA mystery series about a girl named Mary Quinn who works undercover for the all-female detective unit operating out of Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls in Victorian London. I’m fascinated enough by the premise to be willing to read all three books, so I have A Spy in the House and The Body at the Tower as well as Traitor. They sound delicious.

On Twitter last week Tobias Bucknell was asking for reviewers who would be interested in taking a look at his upcoming science fiction novel, Arctic Rising. It’s about the effects of the melting of the Arctic Ice Cap, global terraforming on Earth, and corporations who want to take advantage of the opportunities. It’s a science fiction techno-thriller, and it’s set in Alaska.  I asked if I could have a copy, and he sent me one. Cool! Or warm. Both.

Last and absolutely not least. I have been reviewing ebook romances for Library Journal for quite a while now. It’s neat to say I’m a Library Journal reviewer, and it probably helps me get egalleys at both NetGalley and Edelweiss. I applied to also review for Library Journal the magazine in December, and now I’m officially a reviewer for the print magazine too.

I received my first assignment this week. I got a print galley of Dark Magic by James Swain in my mailbox along with a very detailed set of instructions. Ironically, this is a book I had requested from NetGalley, so I also have an electronic copy. I have about the same amount of time to write my review as I do when I receive an assignment from my editor for an ebook, about 10 days. But the lead time on the print magazine is way longer. The ebook reviews are usually for books that are about to come out any day now. Dark Magic has a publication date of May 22, but my review is due to my editor on February 28.

And with all these books on my “plate” I can stop thinking that Celebrity in Death is coming out on February 21. If I’m still awake at midnight, I don’t think I’ll be able to resist the impulse to dive right into it. Some escapes are just too tempting!

Tomorrow will be Dreamspinner Press’ spin at Ebook Review Central. Don’t you just love Mondays?