Arctic Rising, by Tobias Buckell

I picked up Tobias Buckell's Arctic Rising and was very frustrated when I had to put it down to do other things. It's a great adventure story which also happens to be very good near-future science fiction. Regardless of how you feel about climate change, if polar ice continues to recede, things will happen. Big things. Big geopolitical, economic things.

Consider for a moment what we might see if the northern, polar-facing coasts of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Siberia were no longer ice-locked, and shipping could occur almost straight across. It's the dream of the Northwest Passage, only more North, and even shorter. 

There's your setting. The story is about a UN airship pilot whose scatter camera detects nuclear materials aboard a ship which should not, under any circumstances, be carrying them. She and her copilot move to investigate, and bad things begin to happen. At this level, it reads (and feels) a lot like a spy thriller, only the international, mega-corporate, and organized criminal intrigue are not the usual players.

It's fun, it's twisty, and it is to my reading a very believable extrapolation upon current events and technology. There is a didactic moment, but the polemic is presented by a character for whom that sort of lecturing is true to their personality. And also pretty disturbing. Which, in the context of the book, is perfect. This isn't heavy-handed eco-fiction. This is just flat-out fun sci-fi.

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