The novel “Flood” by Stephen Baxter starts in 2016. Four people are liberated from a group of Christian fanatics after some years of captivity. They think they can finally go back to their normal life but they discover that during the years they were captives sea levels started rising quickly so more and more lands are flooded.
A scientific research leads to the conclusion that in the Earth mantle there’s an amount of water much bigger than all the water in the planet’s oceans and deep submarine seismic activity let this water flow out.
Lily Brooke, one of the former captives, has to save her sister and her family when London is flooded but the sea level keeps on rising. In the chaos that’s spreading through the world tycoon Nathan Lammockson has plans over plans to survive at any costs and Lily decides to join his group though he’s quite ruthless in implementing his plans.
“Flood” follows Nathan Lammockson’s group’s struggle for survival until 2052 in a world where the only constant is change and water buries more and more parts of the old human civilizations. The technologies we take for granted are complex and based on many elements but when more and more of them go underwater our society must adapt to simpler or anyway different technologies while scavanging everything possible that was produced in better times.
Stephen Baxter is one of the most famous hard science fiction writers in the world. In “Flood” the catastrophic subject makes him closer to J.G. Ballard, also considering that the collapse of the old world is mental too: it’s not accidental that after many years of rising seas one of the characters comments that the world is psychotic.
“Flood” is a quite distressing story, not recommended to people with a tendency to depression. Its first part is also disturbingly close to today’s situation as we’re at the end of an year that saw many parts of Europe flooded, catastrophic inundations in various parts of India and Pakistan and some other regions of the world are still seeing heavy raining or snowing.
“Flood” is based on a theory that today is far fetched but even withouth more water coming out from the planet’s mantle there’s enough of it getting added to the oceans from melting glaciars right now and global warming is also causing stronger storms. With just those conditions many costal cities, including big ones such as New York and Los Angeles, might soon be at risk of flooding.
The only good news is that it’s unlikely that we see big portions of lands underwater in just a decade or so. Let’s hope.