Fiction Map of the World- Antarctica

by Travelbag on 09 April 2015, 11:04AM

For some, the notion of taking a trip to Antarctica is enough to make them grab a sweater and pray that they never find themselves anywhere so extreme. For others, particularly those who know precisely who achingly beautiful this destination can be, the idea of an Antarctic holiday is not just thrilling, but deeply moving too. 

Yes, there are only four key elements here – ice, snow, water, and rock. Yes, it is one of the coldest places on earth. Yes, it will offer you a very different type of adventure. However, adventure is what it will give you, and chances are you will come home with memories that you will never forget. This vast white landscape has a peculiar kind of beauty, and it is one that can only be experienced, never adequately described. It is time to think about making the most of planet earth on your next holiday.

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Essential Holiday Reading

The most famous piece of literature ever written about the Antarctic surely has to be The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This deliciously dark work, written in 1797-98, remains one of the most renowned literary compositions of all time. It is a mysterious and portentous tale, depicting the woes of a crew of seamen, after the head of the ship (the mariner) shoots and kills an albatross that was following the boat. The crime has the support of the other men, who decide that it must have been an unlucky omen – that is until something strange starts to happen to them. If you are looking for something thrilling to read on your trip to Antarctica, there is nothing better than this.

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Notable Antarctic Books

One of the most interesting things about the Antarctic is that it has never had an indigenous population – there are no native Antarticans, or certainly not human ones anyway. This means that there is generally no such thing as a literature of the Antarctic, though there have been many different books written about or featuring this unique landscape. The typically dark The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket is the only known complete novel from Edgar Allen Poe. It follows the titular Arthur Pym, as he hides aboard a whaling ship called the Grampus. It is not long before his troubles begin, and Pym faces everything from mutiny to cannibalism, before being rescued by the crew of the Jane Guy ship. If you consider the fact that this is thought to be one of the strangest books from Poe (who was never really known for his sunny outlook), you might have some idea of how unique it is. 

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Notable Antarctic Authors

Once again, there are no humans native to Antarctica, so it is not possible to identify a series of indigenous authors. However, writers like Ursula Le Guin and Hammond Innes have written some truly remarkable tales about this place that deserve attention. The former, a renowned science fiction writer, penned The Compass Rose, a collection of short stories which contains the tale of three Chilean women who set out to conquer the South Pole. The equally remarkable Isvik, by Hammond Innes, tells the story of a ship sent to investigate the sinister discoveries of a glaciologist. For a truly spooky and spine chilling read, Innes is a great guide. The Wilbur Smith bestseller, Hungry as the Sea, and The Fire on the Snow, by Douglas Stewart are also superb choices.     

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Notable Antarctic Films

It should come as no surprise to find that scores of Hollywood and independent movies have been shot in Antarctica. This is a place where survival can become something to fight for in an instant, particularly if the right safety precautions are not taken, and it lends itself well to stories of endurance and adventure. The most famous horror film to be set in this location has to be 1982 John Carpenter thriller The Thing. It chronicles the struggles of an Antarctic research team after they discover a life form which imitates other organisms. It infiltrates their research station, and takes on the form of various team members, fostering paranoia and dangers within the group. The superb documentary Encounters at the End of the World is another great pick, as it follows the real life experiences of the people who live and work here.  

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Essential Holiday Listening

In 2008, Cheryl Leonard was awarded the Antarctic Artists and Writers Programme Grant from the National Science Foundation. She took the cash, and travelled to Palmer Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula, in order to create musical compositions using only natural sounds and resources. Whilst this might not sound quite as fun as Bruno Mars or Lady Gaga, it is an important project, and the work that Leonard carried has yielded surprisingly beautiful results. Her compositions are impressively vast sounding, with a strength that clearly characterises the Arctic environment. They are strong, yet curiously fragile. They feel infinite, but there is an aching longing to them too. If you are interested in really getting to know the sounds of Antarctica, this is a good place to start.  

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Notable Antarctic Musicians

The Alice in Antarctica series, by Alice Giles, is another great choice. This Australian born and internationally acclaimed harp player travelled to Antarctica on the Australian vessel Aurora Australia. Once she reached the shelter of a specially designed research base, she began performing and recording music written for the journey. She also performed a selection of songs which were first heard in this environment around 100 years ago. As the granddaughter of renowned explorer Dr Cecil Madigan, Giles is perfectly placed to bring the sound of the Antarctic to the wider world – her recordings can be found and bought online.  

Click here to read more about Antarctica.

Click here to go back to the Fiction Map of the World. 


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