The science fiction genre has long been noted for themes such as exotic exploration and alternative futures. Some of the best writing in the field extrapolates today's social, economic, and political trends into the near-term future, and examines their impact on the quality of human and alien life. Joe Haldeman in Worlds; Robert Heinlein in The Sixth Column; Arthur C. Clarke in 2001, and certainly Kim Stanley Robinson in his Gold Coast series and Mars trilogy, mastered this school of futuristic fiction. Robinson continues his recent near domination of this sub-genre in Antarctica. In Robinson's panoramic saga, a radical environmentalist political group plots an "ecotage" their form of sabotage used to protest the corporate pillage of Antarctica as they cut off communications for explorers, scientists, and commercial interests in Antarctica, and as they destroy oil exploration encampments who are attempting to engineer the drilling and export of 50 million barrels of untapped oil. As you might anticipate, these eco-saboteurs have the best of intentions, but in this harsh environment, even organized plans may not be realized and small mistakes produce large and terminal disasters. Their illicit purposes are much like the continent that Robinson writes so eloquently about: "First you fall in love with Antarctica, and then it breaks your heart."Robinson depicts Antarctica itself so well that it seems almost like an alien world. Intrigued by the fact that Antarctica is the part of earth most like his beloved Mars, Robinson took literary research to new heights in this book with the help of a grant from the National Science Foundation, which afforded him a six weeks adventure in Antarctica.
Reviewed by Larry D. Woods.