Searching for Hope: At the Intersections of Knowledge and Belief in Stephen Baxter’s Flood
With its over 500-page account of three decades of rising water that leads to the decline of
Earth’s civilization, Stephen Baxter’s Flood belongs in the club of literature linked to the myth of Noah. Considering its generic aspect, the novel should be classified as an apocalyptic rather than post-apocalyptic story. Also, unlike most of the other works employing the theme of the deluge, it is based on scientific underpinnings, which indicates its affinity with hard science fiction. Naturally, Flood opens to multiple interpretations. For instance, it can be read both through the prism of ecocriticism or from the psychological and sociological perspectives. This paper, however, seeks to view the novel as a search for hope occurring at the intersection of knowledge and belief. Employing Michel Foucault’s post-structuralist notions of discourse, power/knowledge, subjugated knowledge and discipline, it arrives at two main conclusions. Firstly, in Baxter’s work the domain of hope displays multidimensionality, since it constitutes an assemblage of different modes (romanticism: that is, spirituality and personal attachment vs. pragmatism: that is, science and technological advancement) and discursive models (such as pragmatic idealism, scientific rationalism and balanced scepticism). Secondly, this paper argues that in Flood hope can be regarded as a complex discourse, rather than a mere category. It is imposed on others spatially (arks), through discipline and by resorting to scientific instruments.