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Books & Authors

Antarctic Fiction

Though the existence of an icy southern continent was posited by the ancient Greeks—who called it "Antarktos"—Antarctica was first glimpsed by humans in 1820, a discovery that launched a series of expeditions comprising the "Heroic Age" of Antarctic exploration. Today, the continent hosts scientific researchers from around the world. Take a look at the items below if you're interested in fiction set in the uncanny wastes of Antarctica, the largest and coldest desert on Earth. (And if you'd like to learn more, take a look at Antarctica's CultureGrams entry*!)

 Antarctica by Kim Stanley Robinson
The international treaty that protects Antarctica is about to dissolve, clearing the way for the continent's resources and eerie beauty to be plundered. As politicians and corporations move to determine its fate from half a world away, radical environmentalists carry out a covert campaign of sabotage to reclaim the land. The winner of this critical battle will determine the future for this last great wilderness.

 The Big Bang Symphony by Lucy Jane Bledsoe
As Rosie flies in for her third season in Antarctica, she plans to avoid all entanglements, romantic and otherwise, and do her work as a galley cook. But when her flight crash-lands, so do all her plans. Mikala, a brilliant young composer, is also on that flight. Alice, a graduate student in geology, arrives a few weeks later. As the three women become increasingly involved, they find themselves deeply transformed by their time on the ice.

 Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell
The basis of the horror film The Thing, this classic is about an Antarctic research camp that discovers and thaws the ancient, frozen body of a crash-landed alien. The creature revives with terrifying results, shape-shifting to assume the exact form of animal and man alike. Paranoia ensues as a band of frightened men work to discern friend from foe, and destroy the menace before it challenges all of humanity.

 Pym by Mat Johnson
Chris Jaynes is obsessed with Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. When he discovers a slave narrative that seems to confirm the reality of Poe's fiction, he resolves to seek out Tsalal, a remote island of pure and utter blackness, imagining it to be the last untouched bastion of the African Diaspora. Jaynes convenes an all-black crew of six to follow Pym's trail under the permafrost of Antarctica, beneath the surface of American history and behind one of literature's great mysteries.

 In Cold Pursuit by Sarah Andrews
Valena Walker is a dedicated master's student in geology headed to Antarctica to study glaciology with the venerable Dr. Vanderzee. But when she finally arrives at McMurdo, she discovers that her professor has been arrested for a murder that occured a year ago. To avoid being shipped north immediately and having her grant canceled, Valena must embrace the role of detective and work to clear his name.

 The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
The City is inhabited by the recently departed, who reside there only as long as they remain in the memories of the living. Among the current residents are Marion and Phillip Byrd, who find themselves falling in love again after decades of marriage. On Earth, Laura Byrd is trapped in an Antarctic research station. She's alone and unable to contact the outside world, quickly running out of supplies and time. The author interweaves these two stories in a spellbinding tale of human connections that cross all boundaries.

 At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft
The barren, windswept interior of the Antarctic plateau was lifeless—or so the expedition from Miskatonic University thought. Then they found the strange fossils of unheard-of creatures, the carved stones tens of millions of years old and, finally, the mind-blasting terror of the City of the Old Ones.


 Dead Men by Richard Pierce
The 1912 discovery of Captain Scott's body in Antarctica started a global obsession. But a central mystery remains: why did his group spend their last ten days in a tent just 11 miles from their food and fuel depot? Birdie Bowers shares her name with Henry "Birdie" Bowers, one of Scott's companions. A century after his death, she is determined to discover what really happened to him.

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