Saturday, June 04, 2016

Book Review: Beyond the Ice Limit

Beyond the Ice Limit
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Grand Central Publishing, 2016, 384pp.

I love the science-heavy thrillers of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (although Agent Pendergast is sometimes tiring.)   Beyond the Ice Limit is a very good addition to their canon (I like the co-written books better than either author's solo thrillers).  If it's not quite in the top tier, it's still an excellent thriller. 
Two of the duo's most intriguing characters, engineering genius Eli Glinn and the multi-talented adventurer Gideon Crew, join forces to seek out and destroy the alien organism whose enormous "seed" was planted in the seabed in The Ice Limit. Glinn, who thinks he can predict and engineer anything and any one, not surprisingly thinks this is a task only he is qualified to perform. He outfits a ship with ROVs, submersibles, and a nuclear warhead. The alien organism, though, is far different, far more powerful, and more difficult to deal with than even Glinn envisioned. The gigantic creature they nickname "the Baobab" is in many ways the most interesting, if terrifying, character in the book. The alien is brilliantly imagined, the suspense constant, and the pacing perfect as scientists and crew (no pun intended) race against a threat that is not about to sit there and let itself be nuked. As always with these authors, the technological aspects are superbly described.
I have two nitpicks, one small and one large. The small one is that the warhead they describe would not have come from the very large Soviet-era missile they ascribe it to: it would have been a tactical missile like the SS-21. The big one is an issue that threatens to mess up this whole fictional universe. The all-purpose medicinal root discovered in The Lost Island would have changed the whole world. If everyone got it, people would stop dying, likely leading to ecological catastrophe: if only some people had it, there would be constant violence and wars over access to it. Yet no one in this book ever MENTIONS it except for its effects on Eli and Gideon.If you can overlook that, you'll like everything else about this book: good characters, good gadgets, and nonstop thrills. Great work, gentlemen!

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