There’s not much I’m more excited by in fiction than curiosity about what it means to inhabit a landscape, particularly where science and history and ecology and personal experience all intersect, and the poles north and south have long been particular fascinations of mine. So I’m excited about a project recently undertaken by Jesse Blackadder, with support from an Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship. She’s headed to Antarctica to research and write about the experiences of the first women to visit the continent. As Environment Minister Tony Burke said in announcing the fellowship, “Our opportunity to understand the precious and unique Antarctic landscape should not only be through the eyes of scientists.”
But while we await the fiction I hope will result from Blackadder’s voyage, I’m going to warm up — or cool down, I suppose — with some other Antarctic novels. Here’s my list so far:
- White, by Marie Darrieussecq;
- The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe, to be followed by…
- Pym, by Mat Johnson;
- Cold Skin, by Cold Skin, by Albert Sánchez Piñol
And I may revisit a couple of novels I’ve read before, Kevin Brockmeier’s The Brief History of the Dead, and James Rollins’ epic of underground Antarctic kangaroo people (really!), Subterranean, long the guiltiest of my Polar pleasures.