Benjamin's Reviews > Ark

Ark by Stephen Baxter
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Jun 03, 2012

it was amazing
Read in April, 2012

Depressing and brilliant. Heavy spoilers follow.

The sequel to Flood is better than its predecessor. It begins with much the same feel of the first book, in that it follows a sheltered and more-or-less naive group of special, selected few, but Ark puts a lot more stress on the brutality necessary to protect their pocket of safety. It is clear that these are the best humanity has to offer, and it is clear that nothing, including morality, can be allowed to interfere with their mission. This is well-trod ground from the first book, and, standing alone, would be inferior to the earlier exposition. But all the sacrifices that were made and all the heavy necessity of the Ark's mission make the crew's subsequent descent into pettiness and barbarity all the more striking.

By the end of the book, there are at least five viable human societies (rafts, submersibles, Earth II, Earth III, and Halivah) scattered around the galaxy, but all of them ride such a razor-thin line separating them from extinction that it is hard to feel any optimism. Throw in the base selfishness that split the space crew in the first place, and humanity's destruction is all but assured. And then, just to twist the knife, the book's last sentence shows the stranded Earth III settlers abandoned as the crippled Halivah, without even waiting for the settlers to finish disembarking, sets off into the unknown.

Depressingly brilliant.

my favorite quote: "'I have no stake in the future. But the present is rich enough for me.'"
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