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Interview: Tobias S. Buckell, author of Arctic Rising

>>Thursday, March 1, 2012

Earlier today I reviewed Mr. Buckell's latest release, Arctic Rising. It was a fun, exciting thriller on the effects of global warming set in the near future. I had the pleasure of interviewing him about his inspirations, insights surrounding this eco theme.

Tobias S. Buckell is a Caribbean-born New York Times Bestselling author. His work has been translated into 15 different languages. He has published some 50 short stories in various magazines and anthologies, and has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, Prometheus, and Campbell awards.

Lisa: Anika is a very independent, strong female character. What was your inspiration for her?

I don't know if there was any one inspiration. This is always a tough question to wrap my head around because it's really a stew of lots of different things that keep bubbling on until interesting things pop to the surface and I snag them. I know with Anika I started with her name, because I stumbled across it in a baby name book. From there I began asking questions about who I thought Anika would be, how she would react, and kept answering those questions as I wrote the first draft.

Lisa: In the acknowledgements, you said this novel formed from conversations with Karl Shroeder and Paolo Bacigalupi. How did you three come to talk about these ecological themes?

Karl and I have been talking about interesting near future ecological quirks since we first met. Karl's always full of stunning ideas, and we collaborated together on a short story back in 2006 or so called Mitigation, set in an ice-free polar north. It got the idea of playing with near future ideas in my head. Karl and I were basically surprised that fewer writers weren't exploring this area in near future science fiction.

Paolo Bacigalupi writes just that, of course. We were expecting more writers like Paolo! He writes this amazing stories about this arena, and is also full of ideas. When I met Paolo we first started talking about how sail power might return in shipping, as well as all sorts of other stuff.

Between video chats and conferences where I would get to chat with both of these authors, I had a lot of ideas floating around in my head.

Lisa: The effects of global warming can change the entire world, but Arctic Rising takes place exclusively in the north. What made you decide to set the book there?

Well, the Arctic faces one of the nearest and most dramatic changes. The ice cap is melting right now, and it keeps melting faster than scientists predict, each time we find a new reason why that stacks on top of the other. And once it is gone, or mostly gone, or even just gone in the summer, it changes a lot! People can ship over the north. Resources will be exposed and can be gained. There will be a lot of attention and a bit of a rush to exploit all that. I see that actor Lucy Lawless was just detained for protesting aboard a Shell exploration ship that was headed for the Arctic. They're heading up there because oil companies also have projections that show ice melting, so they're all actually lining up to be able to get there first. There've been a flurry of filings for claims up north.

Lisa: In the book a corporation tries to engineer a solution to global warming, rather than a government or political body. Is this something that you can see happening in reality, where a private group takes climate change into their own hands in a dramatic way?

I think if politicians keep dragging their feet a company might try something. I saw a proposal by one company to use boats to spew water mist into the air to try and counter some affects.

Lisa: Can you recommend any further reading for those who enjoyed Arctic Rising?

Of course. I'd read Seed by Rob Zeigler, Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, Metatropolis, edited by John Scalzi, Kim Stanley Robinson's Forty Signs of Rain, and maybe Heavy Weather by Bruce Sterling.

Lisa: The ending left room for more, will there be a sequel?

Well, it's a bit too early to tell to be honest. I have a couple other projects to get finished first, and then I'd like to come back to writing another ecothriller like Arctic Rising.

Lisa: Lastly, would you like to tell us about any upcoming projects?

I'm working on another science fiction adventure directly for my fans at my website called The Apocalypse Ocean. That's the big one! Thanks for asking, and for having me over for these questions!

Lisa: Thank you for stopping by!

Arctic Rising

From Goodreads:
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.

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