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South Pole Station: A Novel by Ashley Shelby

South Pole Station: A Novel

by Ashley Shelby

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I read this expecting a largely humorous, light take on scientists at the South Pole. While it is funny in parts, it's actually quite sad and serious. It was a weightier book than I expected, and I liked it for that. I really enjoyed reading about life at the South Pole, and spending time with the damaged weirdos who only fit in in this extreme place. It is a book about art, grief, science, politics, and found families. A lovely book that I think the publisher did a disservice to by presenting it as a light, humorous romp in Antarctica. The cover is particularly egregious in terms of this misrepresentation. ( )
  vanderschloot | Oct 10, 2017 |
This book is primarily a character study. Sure there's a plot, but the most interesting this is discovering the different characters and how they relate to each other as well as the harsh conditions, both physical, emotional, and mental. At first a lot of the people in the book seem like stereotypes, but as you get to know them multiple facets are revealed making them all very compelling. That is perhaps what I liked most about this book, it doesn't present a point of view, it presents situation and well fleshed out characters who all have their own varying points of view. ( )
  ZephyrusW | Jun 11, 2017 |
Accepted to travel to the South Pole as a visiting artist, Cooper Gosling details her trip and the extraordinary lives she meets at the base. There are rivalries, pairings, and wonderfully distinct characters whose back stories are often included. Into the mix of the scientists, who are in the middle of a three-year experiment to confirm or deny the Big Bang, comes a climate change denier forced on the base by a pair of right-wing Congressmen who have threatened polar funding.

The author's sister has overwintered at the Pole, so I think the atmosphere among the Polies is probably drawn pretty accurately. These are serious people, made so largely by the physical dangers and restrictions of the place: close quarters, infrequent baths, too much or too little daylight, and killer temperatures. Combine this with very strong personalities, competition among the scientists' visions, tensions between the scientists and the maintenance crew, and, of course, the presence of a science denier. The scientists are appalled by his presence, not least because working at the Pole is very, very serious life-and-death business, not to be messed with just to make a political statement. This man's presence is central to the story, but it actually works in quite nicely and doesn't turn the book into a thriller, thank goodness.

I had only one complaint in a book I otherwise loved: the climate change denier's backstory is told in some detail, and I really, really didn't care what his personal reasons were. I skimmed that section and didn't think it was necessary to include it at all. Skip that section and give yourself a wonderful read about a place you'll probably never be able to experience yourself. ( )
2 vote auntmarge64 | Dec 21, 2016 |
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" Do you have digestion problems due to stress? Do you have problems with authority? How many alcoholic drinks do you consume a week? Would you rather be a florist or a truck driver? These are the questions that decide who has what it takes to live at South Pole Station, a place with an average temperature of -54?F and no sunlight for six months a year. Cooper Gosling is adrift at thirty, unmoored by a family tragedy and floundering in her career as a painter. So she applies to the National Science Foundation Artists & Writers Program and flees to Antarctica -- the bottom of the Earth -- where she encounters a group of misfits motivated by desires as ambiguous as her own. There's Pearl, the cook whose Carrot Mushroom Loaf becomes means toward her Machiavellian ambitions; the oxymoronic Sal (he is an attractive astrophysicist); and Tucker, the only gay black man on the continent who, as station manager, casts a watchful eye on all. The only thing they have in common is the conviction that they don't belong anywhere else. Enter Frank Pavano -- a climatologist with unorthodox beliefs. His presence will rattle this already unbalanced community, bringing Cooper and the Polies to the center of a global controversy and threatening the 800-million-year-old ice chip they call home. In the tradition of And Then We Came to the End and Where'd You Go Bernadette?, South Pole Station is a warmhearted comedy of errors set in the world's harshest place. "--… (more)

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