Landfall by Stephen Baxter is a collection of three short stories set in the universe of his books Flood and Ark. Having read one of the stories in the collection years ago all of us book fanatics were extremely excited when Landfall: Tales From the Flood/Ark Universe was published. I was happy that I finally had an opportunity to find out what happened to the descendents of Ark’s original crew members.
Taking place approximately 400 years after the events of Ark, the story of Earth II introduces the reader to the descendents of those Ark crew members who decided to take their chances on a planet that was deemed less than desirable by the majority of the original crew. The society has split into several city states with the majority of civilization living on various islands. Those who chose to stay on the Belt (strip of land circling the planet) largely flourish by depending on the money of the people who come to view the artifacts of the original settlers.
The society remembers its past and has preserved the ship used to land on the planet as well as the globes that were given as gifts to the crew. However, lack of certain resources prevents the new society from achieving higher technology. Xaia, the co-ruler of Zeeland the most powerful nation on Earth II, decides to go on an expedition following a successful military campaign. It is her desire to learn more about the founders and the life that was on the planet prior to the arrival of the Ark and its human colonists. Throughout the course of the story a decision is made by Xaia to forget the past, cut ties from the now dead Earth, and focus on creating their own future.
Set approximately 1000 years after the events of Ark, the story of Earth III focuses on Vala, the daughter of one of her worlds primary leaders, and her love interest Brod. More focus is given on the theology that Earth III has developed along with brief mentions of the adults and children (particularly Sapphire) who colonized the planet. The story is, in our opinion, more in depth than that of Earth II since it spends more time developing various characters. There is also a world encompassing world that leads to exploration and the discovery of lost Ark technology.
The final story in the book, Earth I tells the reader what happened to the last remaining passengers of the Ark when they were unable to continue their journey. Taking place several thousand years after the events of Earth II and Earth III, space travel and exploration have become common place. However, the history of the Ark, the flooded Earth, and the originally colonized planets are now barely more than myths. An interstellar war has destroyed most of the knowledge and history the passengers of the Ark worked so hard to preserve. Earth I tells the story of one young woman, LuSi who is forced to accompany her mother on a search for the original Earth and the truth about humanities past.
Landfall: Tales From the Flood/Ark Universe is a well written collection of stories that, when combined, provide the reader with a satisfying conclusion to the universe created by Flood and Ark. While not everyone would enjoy the ending of Earth I, we were grateful for a chance to revisit one of our favorite Stephen Baxter universes. We highly recommend this collection to any fan of post-apocalyptic/world ending fiction or scifi reader.