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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Recommended Reading: South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby

South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby is one of the best novels I've read in 2017. It's funny, lively, stressful, aggravating - everything you want in a novel.

The protagonist is thirty-year old Cooper Gosling. Gosling was an art prodigy as a teen, but circumstances changed. Trying to get her life and career back on track, she applies to the National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Program for a fellowship position at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. I'm not spoiling any surprise by telling you that, yes, she gets the gig, and we are then off with her on an adventure.

The crew at the South Pole falls into two camps, the scientists and the support team. (Cooper and the other artists, appropriately and predictably, are outliers). Author Ashley Shelby zooms in and out on these folks, providing interesting stories about unusual individuals who find that they are well suited to working at the end of the Earth.

There are also a couple of scientific battles underway at the research station. In one, two groups of scientists are working to determine which conflicting theory of how the universe began is correct. And in the second, there is controversy when a climate-change denier joins the ranks of scientists after political pressure is applied by a couple of Congressmen. Cooper connects with these plot lines as she struggles to find her path and sorts through just what to paint in the Antarctic in order to justify her fellowship. These connections and plot twists are highly entertaining.

Interesting characters, a unique setting, and a good story: All these factors make South Pole Station recommended reading.

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