ARCTIC RISING by Tobias Buckell

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.

Tobias Buckell first came to my attention with the release of Crystal Rain (REVIEW), a crackin’ SF adventure with a Caribbean flare. The sequel, Ragamuffin (REVIEW) proved that Buckell was no slouch by expanding his universe and showing nice versatility as a writer without relying on ballooning word counts. Since then, his novels have always been firmly on my radar.

His newest novel, due out Feb. 28, 2012, is called Arctic Rising and presents another side to Buckell’s storytelling. While it’s not related to his previous novels, Arctic Rising is sure to be a smart eco-thriller with no lack of frenetic action and a torrid pace. I’m eagerly awaiting my change to jump in.

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.

You can read the first two chapters of Arctic Rising on