Picks and Pans Review: Antarctica
Forbidding yet fascinating, like the continent it describes, Antarctica is a compelling achievement. Robinson, a science-fiction writer best known for his acclaimed Mars trilogy, has done his homework. Unleashing a blizzard of information about our planet's last great wilderness, he blurs the line between fact and fiction, but no matter, since the subject itself is so absorbing.
Set in the unspecified near future, Robinson's sprawling tale has villains (greedy corporations and unscrupulous politicians, of course, intent upon tapping the continent's natural resources regardless of the environmental consequences) and heroes (radical environmentalists who want to preserve the eerie beauty of this vast ice mass). A harrowing subplot echoes Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air; led by a plucky guide, a group of paying customers sets out on an ill-advised expedition to follow the footsteps of Roald Amundsen to the South Pole. Happily, the book also includes flashes of humor, offbeat characters and arcane facts about Antarctica. In the end the real hero of this novel is its spectacular setting. (Bantam, $24.95)
Bottom Line: A cool read for a hot summer's day