Non-fiction: Liv Arnesen, Ann Bancroft & Cheryl Dahle: No Horizon Is So Far (Penguin, 2004)
No Horizon Is So Far is the account of the Norwegian Liv Arnesen and American Ann Bancroft’s expedition to cross the Antarctic continent unsupported. Books about modern Antarctic expeditions like this one are more like sports narratives than exploration, stories about human endurance and willpower. The story is the usual one: first it’s about getting the money, then about walking in snow and ice.
The distinguishing feature of this particular book is the pedagogical program attached to the expedition and the fact that both explorers are women. Its also a part of the mini-genre of lesbian Antarctic books. (I have yet to see a single gay Antarctic book.)
Perhaps the most memorable parts of the book are Arnesen and Bancroft’s stories of some of the truly idiotic reactions they encountered as women undertaking an expedition in a traditionally male environment.
What if there was an earthquake on Antarctica? That’s the premise of Crawford Kilian’s disaster novel Icequake, a novel that’s at its best when describing tons of ice moving in chaos. Following all the traditions of genre literature, its at its worst when it has to deal with people.
The premise is actually more interesting than it seems. An earthquake could make the glaciers covering the continent collapse into the sea, causing a lot of trouble to research stations built on those glaciers. It would make sea levels rise and change global weather patterns.
There’s a strange vibe going through the book that’s hard to describe, as if it had been written in the Seventies and not ten years ago.