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South Pole Station: A Novel by Ashley Shelby
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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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