It is the year 2016 and four hostages are finally released after years of captivity to a changing world. The ocean levels are rising, and while some of it can be attributed to global warming, the increase is defying all estimates, indicating there must be some other reason. Each of the hostages possesses important abilities that will have a bearing on the fate of the world. Thandie Jones, an oceanographer, spends years researching, trying to understand why the levels keep rising progressively each year. She presents her theory – that through subduction zones in the Earth’s crust, vast amounts of water have been pushed beneath the top layer of the planet for many hundreds of thousands of years, and is now resurfacing, causing the rise in ocean levels. According to her calculations, the levels will continue to rise until the highest point – Mount Everest – is swallowed in one giant world-encompassing ocean. She is practically laughed out of the summit, as the scientists and specialists think little of her predictions.
But there is one man who can also see where everything is going: the billionaire Nathan Lammockson, with the help of one of the former hostages, USAF Captain Lily Brooke, begins forming a long-term plan, bringing in the richest people in the world who are interested in trying to save what parts of humanity they can. Planning and construction begins on a series of “Ark” projects, each performed in secret, in secret locations unbeknownst to the other projects. Lammockson has created a giant, sustainable ship in South America, high up in the Andes, knowing the day will come when the ship will put to sea when the waters have reached this level.
While the characters aren’t that deep and complex, and Baxter condenses what might be a series of books into one with over forty years of passing time and events; his descriptions of these changing events are detailed and fascinating, as the world becomes more panicked, and countries and islands begin to disappear, the reader is kept hooked to the end, where Baxter sets up for a sequel in Ark.
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Originally written on September 12 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.