Jan 9, 2008
Been doing a little reading since the Christmas Holiday, as the long nights of Winter dictate. And I have a lot more on my night table to get me through the next few months. Andrew Vachss (my favorite eye patch-sportin' author), Stephen Hunter (my favorite film critic turned author) and some nice non-fiction stuff as well.
My current fascination is Dan Simmons' The Terror, a fictionalized account of the real-life ordeal of the H.M.S. Erebus and the H.M.S. Terror in the Arctic Circle in the mid-1800's. He adds a supernatural element to the whole tale to make it a fun Horror read to boot. If you aren't familiar with Simmons' work, he may be the only guy out there who is equally adept at the Sci-Fi and Horror genres. Summer of Night and A Winter's Haunting are great Horror tales out of the Ghost Story and It mold. Hyperion and it's sequels are truly unique in the Sci-Fi field, with some going as far as claiming that the main concept of machine vs. Man in The Matrix was lifted from it. I dunno about that. And if someone were going to steal the story from Hyperion, I would hope that they would make a better series of films out of them. 'Nuff said.
This novel, however, is really gripping me. It's a slow read, jumping from personal diaries to third person narrative back and forth through a three-year period, but a fascinating one. It plays right into one of my other obsessions too. I love, absolutely love, reading about expeditions to the Arctic Ocean and Antarctica. Can't get enough of that shit. I have often thought about actually going to Antarctica via New Zealand just to be a part of that vast, unrelenting wasteland on the bottom of the world. Gia thinks I'm crazy, especially since I hate Winter, yet I have these crazy yearnings to go to very extreme cold weather locales. I wanna sleep in an ice hotel, drink in an ice bar, see the Aurora Borealis or Aurora Australis. Feel a cold colder than any I have ever experienced in NY State.
I can't explain it. I don't want to drive in it, shovel it, or spend a particularly long amount of time in it. I just want to be able to experience it. Once. As much as I normally hate the Winter, I can take the cold. Better than almost anyone I know. I have ridiculous circulation...my hands and feet are never cold, and my Winter coat is usually half-again as heavy as normal folks. I know that it wouldn't matter in -30 degree temperatures or worse, but still...
So I read this book, and my adventurous heart soars. I can only take an hour or so of reading before I am on the Internets to satisfy my curiosity. Looking up obscure islands above the Arctic Circle, trying to find the Northernmost settlement (it's Alert, by the way. Way up high on Ellesmere Island in Canada), deciding that is too remote and settling for the Northernmost town I would like to visit (Longyearbyen in Norway), tracing the various routes of the Northwest Passage, reading about a couple stranded in Antarctica by a vicious storm. I love this crap!
I've gone as far, years ago, to inquire about job opportunities in Antarctica. It was right after I left a stuffy bank job, and before I started working from home. Way before I met Gia, obviously. I almost did it. Did you know that the US Military can give service medals for living/working in Antarctica with special attachments for those who winter over? Neither did I. Until reading about it on the Internets last night.
I want one!
Polar update #1 - I turned on the TV and Eight Below, the story of a scientific team and their sled dogs in the Antarctic, was airing on the channel that came on. Weird.
Polar update #2 - Looking at the suggestions on our NetFlix account, and one of the two main suggestions is Michael Palin's documentary mini-series Pole to Pole. It documents his journey from the North Pole to the South Pole. Really weird.