Cover image for Black ice
Black ice
Dickinson, Matt.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2003.

Physical Description:
393 pages ; 25 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Deep beneath the Antarctic ice cap, scientist Lauren Burgess has discovered a secret that could change the face of human knowledge. Then a desperate mayday call comes in. Two explorers, one of them the legendary Julian Fitzgerald, are stranded out on the ice and a rescue is their only hope. Lauren puts the ground breaking scientific work on hold as she leads a dangerous rescue mission into the frozen void. But after returning to the base, the pressure of isolation gradually takes its toll on Fitzgerald and his true dark nature is revealed. Lauren and her scientific team must fight for their very lives. On the run with injured members of the team, sub-zero conditions and a madman on the loose, the odds are against them and time is running out.

Author Notes

Matt Dickinson is a filmmaker and a writer who specializes in documenting the world's wild places and indigenous peoples. He is the author of The Other Side of Everest and lives in England with his wife and their children.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

All good tales of Antarctic adventuring, whether fiction or nonfiction, feature a murderously difficult trek across a boundless expanse of frozen icescape. Dickinson's foray into the genre is no exception. Famed British explorer Julian Fitzgerald and Norwegian Carl Norland, his partner, are attempting to walk across Antarctica at its broadest point and have fallen short of the mark by 80 miles. When the plane sent to rescue them crashes, their only hope for salvation is the scientific station Capricorn, some 300 miles away. Capricorn is a drilling base headed by scientist Lauren Burgess, who, along with her four-person team, has made a startling discovery in a fresh water lake that lies 2,000 feet under the ice beneath the base. Lauren rushes off with love-interest Sean and rescues the two explorers, but winter sets in, preventing evacuation, and Fitzgerald is soon revealed to be a black-hearted villain plotting a triumphant return to England as the hero of the expedition-even if he has to kill everyone else in the process. Norland dies in a disastrous fire that destroys the base, forcing the team, hounded by a now insane, ax-wielding, snowmobile-mounted Fitzgerald, to trek back to the site of the original plane crash, where there is a transmitter. Dickinson (The Other Side of Everest) certainly knows his stuff, having personally cheated death on both Everest and the Antarctic ice. Readers unfamiliar with the stories of real Arctic explorers-Shackleton, Scott, Byrd, etc.-will find this a more exciting read than those already acquainted with the fascinating true life stories. (Dec.) Forecast: Dickinson's nonfiction fans should garner him decent numbers, but the rather unoriginal premise will probably preclude bestselling success. Armchair Arctic explorers interested in a more literary take should be steered by booksellers to Ben Jones's The Rope Eater, also published in December. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One Enchanted as a child by tales of the last unexplored continent on earth, Carl Norland had fallen in love with Antarctica. Now, not far short of his twenty-seventh birthday, the Norwegian explorer was beginning to appreciate that it was a love affair which might--quite soon--end with his death. 'Great God! This is an awful place . . .' Robert Falcon Scott had written as he dragged his dispirited and starving team into second place at the South Pole in 1912. Now, Carl knew exactly how he felt. Carl turned his face to the north. Somewhere beyond that dark horizon, there was a world of warmth, of light and the love of a wife and daughter. But if he didn't act fast, he was never going to see that world again. Carl crawled into the tent and pulled the emergency beacon from the side pocket of the rucksack. He cradled the device in his hands, ignoring the searing pain in his fingers, the crackle of the frostbite blisters as his skin flexed and broke. Many days earlier the last battery on their main radio had failed, leaving this transmitter as their final lifeline. This box of tricks had to work, he prayed, or no one would ever find them. The unit weighed 2.1 kilos and had been manufactured by a specialist communications company in Maine. Mostly they were bought by yachtsmen in case of capsize, but it would do its job just as well here in the heart of Antarctica. The casing was yellow plastic, a stubby black rubber aerial protruding for six inches or so from the top. Next to it was a red switch marked Activate only in emergency. The switch was protected by a plastic seal to prevent it being fired by an accidental knock. Once activated, the beacon would emit a constant radio pulse on the international distress frequency of 121.5 mhz. The pulse would be picked up by a passing satellite, the signal relayed instantly to a permanently manned station in New Hampshire. Their position would be fixed, and a rescue plane would be dispatched from Tierra del Fuego--the landmass closest to Antarctica. More than anything he had ever desired before, Carl wanted to rip open that seal and throw the switch. He stumbled out of the tent and stood swaying on his swollen feet as a bitter gust of wind ran through the camp. There was a haze of frozen fog lying a few metres above the glacier, but above it Carl could see as far as the Madderson Range, almost two hundred miles distant. What were they trying to prove here? Carl squinted through windbeaten eyes at the immensity of the landscape that surrounded them and realised he was no longer sure. Three and a half months earlier, he and one other had set out from the far side of this continent, men of supreme motivation and commitment, men who could endure phenomenal levels of pain. Their plan was an audacious one--a crossing of Antarctica at its widest point, a trek of more than two thousand miles, which would establish their names alongside the great legends of Antarctic exploration. It was a noble quest, they had thought, a prize worth fighting for--an opportunity to join the most rarified club in the world. They were manhauling, each starting out with a sledge carrying five hundred pounds of gear. The weight had been crucifying, the straps chafing running sores into their flesh, their bodies deteriorating with every passing day until they were on the very point of collapse. They were unsupported. Totally alone. Now--eighty miles short of their objective--they had failed. There was no food left on which to survive. The rolling ocean of ice had sucked the flesh from their bones, sapped the very essence of sinew and muscle away until they were reduced to the stumbling progress of a child. Carl reckoned he had lost about fifteen kilos, his skin tightening against his skeleton the way that vacuum-packed plastic clings to supermarket meat. Winter was closing in on them. Daylight was down to just a few gloomy hours a day. Soon the permanent night of the Antarctic winter would fall across the ice sheet, and then there would be no escape. It was time to get out. And fast. Copyright (c) 2002 by Matt Dickinson. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Black Ice by Matt Dickinson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.