Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Literature and Antarctica

Bagpiper Gilbert Kerr, of the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition (1902), brings art to the final frontier.
The recent Antarctica news post I wrote got me wondering how many books and movies have been set in Antarctica? We all know about the bathetic "March Of the Penguins," and you might have seen Warner Herzog's philosophic reverie "Encounters At the End Of the World." But what else is out there?

How about a thriller? Author Bob Reiss set his novel "Purgatory Road" in Antarctica.  Here's the amazing blurb:
When a fellow scientist is found half-eaten by a leopard outside a US Antarctic research base, Jack Amirault is convinced that it is murder.
What gave it away Jack, the fact that there are no leopards in Antarctica?

Or for another mystery/thriller novel, check out Clive Cussler's "Shock Wave," which has something to do with a diamond king, an Australian penal colony, a deadly plague, a mine, and a beautiful woman--all culminating in a "spine-chilling confrontation." (Well YEAH, it's cold as a witch's tit down there in ANTARCTICA.)

Another thriller (seeing a pattern?) set in the polar south is "Ice Station" by Matt Reilly. All characters in the novel are in clear violation of the Antarctic Treaty, since they're all military personnel from various countries being sneaky and killing each other. The U.S. soldiers meet their rival on a snowy field of battle--the, ahem, evil French Special Forces.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist William Dietrich uses his experience in the Antarctic to inform his derivative adventure novels starring "hero/geologist" Jed Lewis in "Dark Winter" and "pilot/consultant" Otto Kohl in "Ice Reich."  Something about murder and a meteorite, something about plague bacteria and Nazis.

If you want to raise your literary brow a little higher, there's Albert Sanchez Pinol's "Cold Skin," which looks to be something of a ghost story and something of a DSM IV diagnostic manual.

There's also "Whiteout," a graphic novel series by Greg Rucka with various illustrators. It was recently made into a movie version starring Tom Skerritt's beard.

And then there's this book, by the wife of the mayor of Houston, about children sent to Antarctica for a reality TV show in the year 2083. The real optimism is in the assumption that Antarctica is still covered in snow in 50 years.

If sassy chicklit is your bag, check out "Adventures Of an Ice Princess" which is kind of "Eat, Pray, Love" meets "South: The Endurance Expedition." Because it's not like it's hard to go to ANTARCTICA. I mean, what's a girl to do when she gets dumped? Buying a villa in Italy is so late-90s.

There are a lot of documentary and nature films about Antarctica, but not so many feature films.  I've mentioned "Whiteout" and "Alien vs. Predator."

"Mr. Forbush and the Penguins," is a movie starring John Hurt, about how scientific dedication can cure womanizing.

And "Eight Below" is a Disney film that stars Paul Walker, about a hot scientist who misappropriates grant money to rescue stranded dogs. It's based on a true story, except in real life all but two of the dogs died. (It is majorly HARSH in Antarctica, Disney.)

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