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Book Review & Giveaway: Arctic Rising by Tobias S. Buckell

Title: Arctic Rising

Author: Tobias S. Buckell

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller

Publisher: Tor
Publication Date: March 2012
Hardcover: 304 pages

Global warming has transformed the Earth, and it’s about to get even hotter. The Arctic Ice Cap has all but melted, and the international community is racing desperately to claim the massive amounts of oil beneath the newly accessible ocean.

Enter the Gaia Corporation. Its two founders have come up with a plan to roll back global warming. Thousands of tiny mirrors floating in the air can create a giant sunshade, capable of redirecting heat and cooling the earth’s surface. They plan to terraform Earth to save it from itself—but in doing so, they have created a superweapon the likes of which the world has never seen.

Anika Duncan is an airship pilot for the underfunded United Nations Polar Guard. She’s intent on capturing a smuggled nuclear weapon that has made it into the Polar Circle and bringing the smugglers to justice.

Anika finds herself caught up in a plot by a cabal of military agencies and corporations who want Gaia Corporation stopped. But when Gaia Corp loses control of their superweapon, it will be Anika who has to decide the future of the world. The nuclear weapon she has risked her life to find is the only thing that can stop the floating sunshade after it falls into the wrong hands.

Stand alone or series: Stand alone novel

How did I get this book: Review copy from the Publisher

Why did I read this book: As I’m a sucker for all things dystopian/post-apocalyptic and science fiction, I was thrilled to learn that Tobias Buckell’s new book hit both of these themes. Naturally, I was in.


After global warming has ravaged the earth and the polar ice caps have almost entirely melted, the world is a dramatically different place. With the recession of glaciers and ice that had previously covered inaccessible regions of Canada, Norway, Finland, Greenland, Iceland and other northern regions, a slew of rich natural resources are ripe for the taking. With a rush to move up north to mine the jewels, oil, and other precious natural commodities, the power balance and economics of the world shifts dramatically, and UN peacekeepers are enlisted to monitor and protect the exploited north.

Anika Duncan is one such UN worker, a pilot for the Polar Guard, charged with flyovers of the northern polar region and monitoring any abnormal behavior. Anika and her partner Tom are on a routine flyby, when they notice an uncleared freighter with abnormal – radioactive – cargo. The freighter fires on their ship, killing Tom and nearly drowning Anika. Angry and hungry for answers, Anika cannot let the mystery ship go and delves into the mystery of the freighter and its mysterious cargo in order to avenge her friend and prevent a catastrophe and corporate conspiracy of global proportions.

Arctic Rising explores a future world in which our ecosystem is irrevocably changed, and is essentially an eco-thriller with a politically astute and socio-economic edge. One thing I love about Buckell’s work is his attention to detail and his keen integration of different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds, and Arctic Rising is no exception. Heroine Anika is from Nigeria (the bi-racial daughter of a religious father and a Nollywood actress mother); the bubbly secondary character Vy is a Southern homegrown American girl with apple pie appeal (despite being the most successful drug dealer in the Northern region); Roo, a freelance spy, is from the (now submerged) Caribbean island region. There are gay characters, there are characters of varying race, social standing, and native background, and in a genre that is somewhat homogenous (especially in contemporary sci fi), this is really goddamn cool.

Of course, at its core, Arctic Rising is really a thriller – an ecological thriller with a political and socially conscious edge, that toes the line between science fiction and realism. Mr. Buckell excels in his envisioning of the repercussions of a world where the ice caps have almost completely melted, and I loved the extrapolation of this premise. This vision is brutally and painstakingly realized; it is a world where the lower lying islands and regions have been wiped out, where an entire new world order has been built around the resources of the north with new oil rigs being set up each day and tightened immigration and work permit laws. Beyond the worldbuilding implications, I also loved the tightly written action scenes in Arctic Rising, from interrogations, to high speed boat chases, to blow-by-blow fistfights, and more. My only problems with the book were with some of the less even pacing points – in between the action, there is a lot of exposition-ladling and some generous info-dumping. The story is also incredibly contained, only looking at the cross section of the northern region without exploring what is happening at other ends of the world (how are the regions of South and Central America handling the rising waters and temperatures, for example?).

These criticisms aside, I truly enjoyed reading Arctic Rising and recommend it to anyone hungering for a scifi thriller with an eco-bend.

Notable Quotes/Parts: From chapter one:

Centuries ago, the fifty-mile-wide mouth of the Lancaster Sound imprisoned ships in its icy bite. But today, the choppy polar waters between Baffin Island to the south of the sound, and Devon Island on the north, twinkled in the perpetual sunlight of the Arctic’s summer months, and tons of merchant traffic constantly sailed through the once impossible-to-pass Northwest Passage over the top of Canada.

A thousand feet over the frigid, but no longer freezing and icechoked waters, the seventy-five-meter-long United Nations Polar Guard airship Plover hung in a slow-moving air current. The turboprop engines growled to life as the fat, cigar-shaped vehicle adjusted course, then fell silent.

Inside the cabin of the airship, Anika Duncan checked her readings, then leaned over the matte-screened displays in the cockpit to look out the front windows.

The airship’s cabin had once held twelve passengers, but was now retrofitted with a bunk, a small kitchen area, supply closets, and a cramped navigation station. Tourists had once sat in the cabin underneath the giant gasbag as the airship glided over New York’s tallest buildings. After that tour of duty, the United Nations Polar Guard purchased it well used and very cheap.

Airships didn’t use much fuel. They could put observers into the air to monitor ship traffic for days at a time, wafting from position to position with air currents.

It saved money. And Anika knew the UNPG was always struggling with a lean budget. It showed on her paycheck, too.

“Which ship should we take a closer look at, Tom?” Anika asked.

You can read the full excerpt online HERE, via Tor.com.

Rating: 6 – Good

Reading Next: The Darkangel by Mary Ann Pierce

Giveaway Details:

We have ONE autographed copy of Arctic Rising up for grabs! The contest is open to ALL and will run until Saturday, March 3 at 11:59PM (PST). To enter, simply leave a comment here letting us know the title of your favorite SF thriller. Only one comment per person, please. Multiple comments will be automatically disqualified. Good luck!

Buy the Book:

Ebook available for kindle US, nook, google & apple


  • Birgit
    February 27, 2012 at 12:12 am

    I totally love the sci fi genre so deciding on a fav is hard, BUT one of my favorites is definitely “The Andromeda Strain” by Michael Crichton (also a great movie).

  • Carol Thompson
    February 27, 2012 at 12:26 am

    MY favorite would probably be Gattica.

    THanks for the giveaway and for opening it to worldwide entries.

  • Josephine
    February 27, 2012 at 12:43 am

    The Hyperboreans.

  • MK
    February 27, 2012 at 12:50 am

    I think I’ll have to stick to The Hunger Games (and start reading more thrillers).

  • Grafton
    February 27, 2012 at 1:27 am

    Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany

  • Stuart
    February 27, 2012 at 2:28 am

    The Day of the Triffids
    by John Wyndham

  • Pippi55
    February 27, 2012 at 6:31 am

    The Hunger Games, I don’t think I’ve read anything else that would fit the genre.

  • Patricia Eimer
    February 27, 2012 at 7:14 am

    My favorite SF would have to be Phillip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

  • Rachel R.
    February 27, 2012 at 7:19 am

    I don’t know that it’s my favorite ever, but I recently read and loved “Ready Player One.”

  • Tina
    February 27, 2012 at 9:07 am

    The Hunger Games 🙂

  • Vanessa
    February 27, 2012 at 9:14 am

    I read The Travis Chase trilogy over the weekend. New fave.

  • Misti
    February 27, 2012 at 10:42 am

    After Smugglivus, I read “The Breach” and now have “Ghost Country” to read.

  • ediFanoB
    February 27, 2012 at 10:55 am

    You asked for SF thriller. I’m not sure if the books I want to mention fit your requirements.
    Anyway the have something in common with Arctic Rising.

    And these are my two favorites:

    The Swarm by Frank Schätzing
    Flood by Stephen Baxter

  • jude
    February 27, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Jurassic Park was a mindblower.

  • Jaclyn
    February 27, 2012 at 11:23 am

    The Passage by Justin Cronin. Can’t wait for the next one!

  • Na S.
    February 27, 2012 at 11:26 am

    The Mist by Stephen King stands out in my mind. I haven’t read a SF thriller in awhile. Thank you for the chance to read Arctic Rising.

  • Teresa Warner
    February 27, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Just finished Hunger Games, that would be my choice! tWarner419@aol.com

  • pscott
    February 27, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    The Breach by Patrick Lee. Loved the whole series!

  • JL
    February 27, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    I can’t think of a favourite SF thriller but I’d still love to win this book. Can I still enter the contest? Pretty please?

  • Beth
    February 27, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Hmm, I’d have to say Lightning by Dean Koontz, even though it’s not strictly SF but it’s pretty darn close and a freaking awesome book! 🙂

    bethsbookreviewblog2 AT gmail DOT com

  • draconismoi
    February 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Could you ask a more impossible question? I can never decide on a favorite! It depends on my mood. Right now I’ll go with Feed by Mira Grant.

    But if you ask me tomorrow, I’ll probably have a completely different answer.

  • Breanne
    February 27, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    I also love Feed by Mira Grant. The one I’ve probably read the most, though, is Sphere by Michael Crichton.

  • Barbara Elness
    February 27, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    I just finished reading Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson as well as Crystal Rain by Tobias S. Buckell. Both books were suspenseful SciFi so I guess you could call them thrillers. I’d have to list them as favorites because I really enjoyed both books and can’t think of any others I’ve read lately.

  • Justine
    February 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    I like the short story Minority Report by Philip K. Dick. For movies, Christopher Nolan gets me every time, especially with Memento and Inception.

  • Bethie
    February 27, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    I would have to say that the Hunger Games is my fav. I can’t wait for the movie. I just hope that I am not disappointed.

  • Meagan
    February 27, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Does Use of Weapons by Iain Banks count? Quantum Thief probably does, which would be my other option 🙂

  • Stephanie K.
    February 27, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    The Passage by Justin Cronin.

  • Vivian
    February 27, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    An SF thriller…? I’m not sure I’ve read one that fits that category… Perhaps a regular thriller? Such as Paranoia by Joseph Finder? I really enjoyed that one.

  • scribe kira
    February 27, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    I first thought of the hunger games, wasn’t sure if that counted, saw everyone else put it, so figured i might as well join in!=o)

  • Victoria Zumbrum
    February 27, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    I love Jurassic Park. I would love to read this book. It sounds very good.Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

  • jenn
    February 27, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    Cool! xD

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    February 27, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    […] Book Review & Giveaway: Arctic Rising by Tobias S. Buckell […]

  • Jamie
    February 27, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Gosh, I think it would have to be Ender’s Game, from way back in middle school. I still think about it, can still remember specific details. It was powerful.

  • Mary Preston
    February 27, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    It’s been a long time since I read a Sci-fi Thriller. I don’t have a favorite. I should read more of the genre.

  • Ryan
    February 27, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks.

  • Joan
    February 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Prey by Michael Crichton.

  • debbie
    February 28, 2012 at 4:22 am

    I would have to go with the mist by stephen king. I loved both versions- the short story and the movie.

  • Alexa
    February 28, 2012 at 6:08 am

    I’m not sure if it counts as a thriller, but it’s definitely sci-fi. I really liked Jose Saramago’s Blindness. It captures the world perfectly had it encountered the kind of situation described in the novel.

  • Dellan
    February 28, 2012 at 10:19 am

    I’ll have to go with Enders Game as well

  • Simona
    February 28, 2012 at 11:27 am

    I subscribe to what Alexa said. My favourite SciFi thriller is for sure Blindness by Saramago (one of my favourite authors ).

  • amy
    February 28, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    This is an intriguing futuristic science fiction thriller that extrapolates global warming trends and the race to claim the Arctic into an exciting cautionary thriller. The storyline is fast-paced as, for the most part, Tobias S. Buckell balances the moral issues with the action this is especially true for the heroine. Anika who keeps the plot focused. Although the final confrontation seems out of a bloody pulp fiction that blows up many people and the profound economic-environmental debate, fans will appreciate entertaining Arctic Rising.


  • Marie-Claude
    February 28, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    I have never read a SF thriller, but would like to give it a try with artic rising!!!

  • Julie Witt
    February 28, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    My favorite would be The Stand by Stephen King if that qualifies!! Thanks so much for the giveaway – Arctic Rising sounds amazing and I would love to win a copy:)
    jwitt33 at live dot com

  • Llehn
    February 28, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Running Man – Stephen King.

  • Cecilia H.
    February 28, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Dystopian fiction is so very creepy because so much of it could happen!

    I actually have two books that I thought were pretty good in this genre:

    The Passage by Justin Cronin
    One Second After by William Forstchen

    Artic Rising sounds like a really great dystopian read! Thanks for a chance to win…:D


  • Claire
    February 28, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Anything by Robert Sawyer — but if I had to pick I would say Hominids

  • Nikki Egerton
    February 29, 2012 at 7:51 am

    I love Michael Critchon and also the Ender books by Orson Scott Card. Would love to give this one a go.
    Thank you!

  • Nicola
    February 29, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Another shout out to Michael Crichton over here! There’s a reason so many of his books have been turned into movies.
    Arctic Rising sounds intriguing. I would love to win!

  • sarac
    February 29, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Probably Ender’s Game would be mine.

  • Nicola
    February 29, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Hmm … or Philip K. Dick. So hard to choose!

  • Anna
    February 29, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Thats a tough question. Genre lines are so crossed these days! The Uglies is probably the closest to “scifi” that I’ve read recently. Or Fever Crumb, but steampunk’s a different kind of scifi altogeter. But both are def faves. Hmm. Looks like I need to search some out!

  • Nayana Catoia
    March 1, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I actually never had the opportunite to read a Sci-Fi fiction, mostly because i’ve never bought one, but i always wanted to try on some Stephen King’s titles and so 🙂 Hope this one gets to be my first!

  • Nayana Catoia
    March 1, 2012 at 9:50 am

    I actually never had the opportunite to read a Sci-Fi fiction, mostly because i’ve never bought one, but i always wanted to try some of Stephen King’s titles and so 🙂 Hope this one gets to be my first!

  • Seth Christenfeld
    March 2, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Can we count Horns? I’m gonna say Horns.

  • kara-karina
    March 3, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Can you count Dune as a thriller? I love that book! 🙂

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  • Doug Sturtevant
    March 9, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan was great.

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