Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Antarctica by Kim Stanley Robinson

Antarctica by Kim Stanley Robinson (Bantam) is something I picked up as an e-book, and one that I probably expected to be different from what it was. The story follows a handful of main characters in Antarctica for various reasons--adventure tour guide, McMurdo base employee, visiting artist, politician's assistant--and follows them through some major events, including a winter storm, an act of eco-tourism, and an operational shakeup of the base.

It's interesting to see what in the near-future tech from the last century came to pass; the characters use wrist phones and there's a reference to modem hookups on the golf course. We went in another direction, technologically, but I'm fascinated by what became and what didn't. And, even with futuristic inventions, the fate of any human in frigid Antarctica is touch and go--it doesn't take long to freeze to death. My biggest snicker was a reference to "secret masters of McMurdo," a reference to the "secret masters of fandom" who plan fan conferences (but, mainly, WorldCon), and the reference isn't entirely complimentary as used here.

I was seeking a little more tension and adventure, but truly, that wasn't promised. Instead, the journey was more a philosophical one about the environment and the future of our planet. While this is marketed for adults, and the adults are really adults, I don't think there's anything surprising for the mature teen reader. Offer this as a pairing for Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi or The Carbon Diaries by Saci Lloyd.

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