Research Blog Antarctica #121: The Seeds of Doom


TV: Dr Who: The Seeds of Doom (1976)

The Seeds of Doom is a six-episode storyline in the 13th season of the British tv series Dr Who. British scientists working at an Antarctic base discover strange, organic objects in the ice, and take them inside for study. They turn out to be dangerous, infecting the scientists and eventually placing the entire world at risk. The Doctor is called in to investigate. The first part of the story is set in Antarctica, and the second in Britain on the estate of a rich, mad plant-lover.

It’s a fun sci-fi story, with many classic Antarctic themes. The idea of alien lifeforms falling from the sky and being buried in the ice reflects the role of Antarctica in collecting meteorites. Unknown horrors lurking, forzen under the ice go back to Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness. And of course, Antarctica is a repository of ancient fossils and ecosystems preserved in lakes sealed off under the glaciers.

Research Blog Antarctica #120: Eight Men in a Crate

eight men in a crate

Non-fiction: Anthea Arnold: Eight Men in a Crate (Erskine Press, 2007)

Also a contender for the best title on an Antarctic book, Eight Men in a Crate is the story of a supporting party on the British Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1955-1957. While expedition leader Vivian Fuchs and mountain climber Edmund Hillary get the glory elsewhere, eight men work to build a base in extreme hardship. The story is small and personal, the narrative of those normally glossed over in expedition accounts.

Essentially a book about building a house in the middle of a blizzard, much of the time in total darkness, the book benefits from the private nature of its source material, the diary of the doctor Rainer Goldsmith. Unlike the repressed men of the early Antarctic period of Scott and Shackleton, Goldsmith talks about the difficulties of taking a leak in the Antarctic, his animosity towards the expedition leadership and the fears and hopes he has regarding his girlfriend back home. It’s not a self-conscious narrative of heroism like many of the more famous books, but a human story on a human scale.

The crate of the title is the temporary housing the men had while they were constructing the actual base hut.