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Bookends: Climate change thriller turns up the Arctic heat November 27, 2014

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends.
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Bookends: Climate change thriller turns up the Arctic heat

By Dan Davidson

June 11, 2014

– 832 words –


Arctic DriftArctic Drift

By Clive and Dirk Cussler

Berkley Books

593 pages



It’s been a few years since I read one of Cussler’s Dirk Pitt thrillers, so when this one turned up with a plot set on Canada’s west and northern coasts, I decided to give it a try.

There have been some changes made. Dirk’s married. His wife, Loreen, is a US Senator. His former boss is now the vice-president of the USA and Dirk’s now the head of (National Underwater and Marine Agency). Dirk had children with another woman somewhere along the way and the young man is named after his father. This means that the younger man gets to be called Dirk throughout the book, while his father is called Pitt.

That’s the only really confusing part of the story, other than that the whole thing has to be taking place in some other dimension that just happens to be pretty much identical with our planet, because the degree to which tensions heat up between Canada and the USA in this story is definitely out of this world.

It doesn’t start there through. It starts with the Franklin Expedition back in 1848. On the two frozen in ships one crew has gone mad for some reason. The remaining sane crew members flee the Erebus and make for the Terror and some degree of safety. Eventually, as we know, they all die on the ice, but the mystery of the madness remains unsolved for the next 160 years.

Later on, off the coast of British Columbia, near Kitimat, the crew of a pleasure cruiser is overtaken at sea by a ghastly white mist and die in agony in mere minutes.

Later Dirk and sister Summer find the boat and report the tragedy, leading them to explore more around the area of Terra Green’s new carbon dioxide sequestration plant. Later they will find that all is not what it seems there.

In the Arctic Ocean a Canadian Coast Guard ship is rammed by what seems to be a large freighter towing a barge. It doesn’t sink, but the outrage appears to have been perpetrated by a ship flying American colours.

Off the coast of Vancouver Island a Canadian Senator stops to help a man who appears to have swamped his small boat and is in distress. But he’s not, and he pulls her into the water and drowns her.

Still later, an Arctic science exploration crew living on the ice pack is rammed by another boat that appears to be an American military vessel. All but a handful of the scientists die as their floes break up. The survivors are picked up by the NUMA ship, the Narwhal.

Finally, in Washington, a scientist comes up with a process to create artificial photosynthesis, a process that will, by itself, cut down and eliminate much of the CO2 that is being pumped into the air and contributing to whatever natural processes are already triggering climate change. Her lab blows up and she is badly injured. This gets the elder Pitt involved in the search for the rare mineral she needs to make the process work. There might have been some on one of Franklin’s ships.

Those are all the plot threads that you need to have to realize that this is a multilayered thriller with a lot of connections to some of our current problems. It’s a bit of wishful thinking to propose that anyone could find what amounts to a kill-switch for climate change, but it’s not hard to believe that some unscrupulous one per center wouldn’t find a way to make money out of the problem with a murderous scam that really just makes it worse.

There’s lots of action for the teams in this story. Young Dirk and Summer face danger off the west coast, while Pitt senior is nearly killed in an ambush in Northern Ontario. In a bit of meta-fiction, he is rescued by a gent named Clive Cussler who is touring in a nautically tricked out RV motorhome.

For the climax we move to the Arctic Ocean and some action at sea, under the sea, on Arctic islands and on the frozen hulk of the Erebus itself. If Mr. Cussler will just tell the Canadian government where he found it, we can stop looking for it. Remember, he did write the book Raise the Titanic some years before the actual wreck was found.

As I said at the beginning, a book that almost has the Canadian government declaring war on the USA has to be set on some other planet. There are a lot of coincidences in this story and I had to smile at some of the events, but it was a cracking good yearn and it moved right along.

Cussler hasn’t had any luck getting his books translated into movies, or I’d suggest this one.





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