Why write a novel based in Antarctica?
I first became enthralled with Antarctica when I read a book as a child about penguins. At that time it had been less than 50 years since explorers had first reached the South Pole. That is hard to believe. Men had gone to the moon but we still knew little about the coldest, driest continent on earth.
I had the privilege of visiting Antarctica and working there for a month while I was a flight surgeon in the Nebraska Air National Guard. The United States Air Force provides much of the airlift capability for McMurdo Station and the National Science Foundation. The main base for the United States is McMurdo Station, located on Ross Island, a short distance from the mainland of Antarctica. The island is unique in that the western shore of the island borders the “temporary” ice pack while the eastern shore is embedded in the “permanent” ice sheet. The permanent ice provides a location for an air base where even the huge C17 transport jets can land throughout the Antarctic summer.
Antarctica denotes mystery for both science and literature. In the Antarctic winter, there is no sunshine for nearly 6 months. The cold is interminable, reaching as low as 120 degrees below zero. It is cold enough to freeze flesh in moments. Despite a perennial presence man has not overcome the climate of this harsh land and it is not wise to underestimate the risks living there. Cold, wind, darkness, and isolation have the potential to make Antarctica very unpleasant for some.
Nevertheless, the fact that it is so unknown makes Antarctica a popular target for research. Dozens of nations have facilities located on the continent. Researchers study life there, both present and ancient. Physicists find the extreme cold to be favorable for studying neutrinos and astronomers study the heavens from a place with the least light pollution on earth. The potential for new knowledge is huge and the draw is magnetic.
All in all, Antarctica is an ideal location for a new novel. Combining mystery with a poorly understood continent seemed like a winning opportunity. The primary character, Gabe Hunter, is just another researcher looking for answers to questions he has not even thought of yet. He is a virologist, curious about what kinds of diseases may have been present in times past. Antarctica provides an ideal location where frozen in time, viruses may be in suspended animation, waiting to be rediscovered and woken up. He sees the potential for curing current-day illnesses, and some risk of waking up a possible pandemic. His search is interrupted by the discovery of the presence of other people, not far away, with totally different goals.
Suspense, murder, and mystery in the harshest location on earth will keep you glued to the pages as you read Crisis on the Ice – Coming Soon
Other works by Scott McPherson, M.D.
The Jack Sharp, M.D. novels:by