Flood by Stephen Baxter told the story of a catacylsm that forever changed life on Earth. Over a period of 40 years, vast oceans long trapped beneath the continental plates released, raising water levels by more than 10 miles. Eventually all land-based life was drowned, save for a pitiful remnant surviving in ragtag communities of rafts, living off scavenged and scattered detritus. In the years leading up to the end, a program was put in place to build a spaceship to take humanity's seed out among the stars to find a new Earth. The story of Ark overlaps that of Flood when the ark builders and its crew were holed up on high ground in the Rockies putting the pieces in place for their departure. As the end approached, the mountain tops of Colorado were crawling with a starving, lawless, desperate form of humanity. The departure of the Ark was pushed up because the overwhelmed Ark base security could not keep the rioting throngs out. The ship was launched in chaos as the highly trained crew were attacked and many were left behind, replaced by the rogues who had fought their way through security.
The story develops over a period of 10 years as the Ark makes it way to a potentially viable planet, some 10 light-years away from Earth. A tense unease developed among the crew - power struggles, petty grudges, and the usual hurts and frictions that arise among people forced to survive in and around others in a cramped environment. Fights and rebellions mixed in with periods of stability, peace, and cooperation. A microcosm of humans being humans. After 10 years the 80 members of the crew arrive at the preselected planet that was meant to be their new home, only to come to the realization that the planet was not optimal. The crew makes a decision to split up. A faction decides to head back to the drowned Earth, a faction decides to take their chances on the new planet, and a faction decides to continue on to the next perspective planet on their list.
Of course, this is a science fiction novel and the author has taken some liberties with the physics to allow this starship to fly, but the author completely side-stepped the laws of relativity which made for some real eye-rolling moments for me. However, he did have a talent to capture the tension and the drama of human life and he pulled me into life within the Ark to the point that it became vivid for me. There we some graphic sexual scenes and situations that were included that I found a distraction as they weren't necessary and he left more questions unanswered than were addressed. However, even with the flaws in this series, it was still a read that quickened my senses and made me want to keep turning the pages.