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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different planet familiar story still enjoyable
After his Mars trilogy, just about anything Kim Stanley Robinson was going to do was highly anticipated. The worst thing he could have done was try and repeat his earlier trilogy just in a different setting. To his credit, he did try something different here, but not different enough at times to really make the book come alive. Don't get me wrong, it's a beautifully...
Published on April 26, 2002 by Michael Battaglia

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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but Uneven Book
I almost began this review by saying that I am not a fan of Robinson. However, that would be incomplete; I have only read one other of Robinson's books--The Years of Rice and Salt--and based on that book, I have not tried any of his others, even his highly-regarded Mars trilogy. If you loved "The Years of Rice and Salt," you should probably read a different...
Published on October 31, 2003 by Douglas Moran


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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different planet familiar story still enjoyable, April 26, 2002
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This review is from: Antarctica (Mass Market Paperback)
After his Mars trilogy, just about anything Kim Stanley Robinson was going to do was highly anticipated. The worst thing he could have done was try and repeat his earlier trilogy just in a different setting. To his credit, he did try something different here, but not different enough at times to really make the book come alive. Don't get me wrong, it's a beautifully written and passionate book . . . in the acknowledgements Robinson mentions that he spent several months on the continent and the staggering amount of research shows . . . even if you've never been to Antarctica this book will make you feel like you have. Every mountain every cold gust of wind every pure blue sky is described beautifully here and that love of the land comes through both in the writing itself and the characters. The story, however, feels like a slight retread of the Mars trilogy, with the underlying conflict being whether to keep the land pure and unsullied or to exploit it as best we're able. To this end several plots spin around showing the different aspects, from the tentative oil drilling to the political angles to the scientific and the people just visiting. This crosssectioning almost defeats the book because with so many characters and views you don't get to know the characters as well as you did in the trilogy, only in several moments do they really come alive to the reader and the sparks start to fly. So the book functions mostly like a travelogue, albeit a wonderfully written one and the passion here just about makes up for the plot, but there are times when you'll sit back and wonder if the book is missing something important. The tension that drove the Mars trilogy is absent here, either because the setting isn't as futuristic or simply because he's trying to do more with less . . . but in the end it's entertaining and even a slight book by Robinson is miles better than anyone's best at this point. Don't expect to get as excited by it as his earlier books have done for you, but pick it up anyway. The pleasures it offers may not be new, but they're pleasurable nonetheless.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but Uneven Book, October 31, 2003
This review is from: Antarctica (Mass Market Paperback)
I almost began this review by saying that I am not a fan of Robinson. However, that would be incomplete; I have only read one other of Robinson's books--The Years of Rice and Salt--and based on that book, I have not tried any of his others, even his highly-regarded Mars trilogy. If you loved "The Years of Rice and Salt," you should probably read a different review, because we don't share similar sensibilities; I didn't like that book at all.
That being said, this is an enjoyable but very uneven book. The view of Antartic life is wonderful, both the Polar culture and that of McMurdo. The scene of those two places is well drawn, interesting, and involving. I really came to enjoy several of the characters, even though most of them are--let's be honest--pretty sparsely drawn or even two-dimensional. But still, Wade, X, and especially Spiff and Viktor were enjoyable folks to read about. Their adventures, little and big, made fun reading, and of course the setting is simply awesome. I think Robinson does an especially good job bringing home to you the vastness, cold, and emptiness of Antarctica (I had a friend who went there for several seasons doing graduate research).
Unfortunately, I have two big problems with this book: the action is very uneven, and one of main characters--Val--I found stupendously annoying. One at a time.
First, the action. I honestly believe that *everyone* will find this book uneven, and will love some of it, and hate other parts. The dicey bit is, we're all going to love and hate different things. For example, a large portion of the book is taken up with an adventure trek (much like today's adventure climbs up Everest) along the same path that Amundsen, the first man to make it to the South Pole, took. I found almost all of this stupendously dull. Frankly, I couldn't care less. There is an especially long section where Val, the guide for the trekkers, is leading them on a long march across the Antarctic plateau, and it goes on for nearly 25 pages. Walking. A little dialogue, a lot of internal monologue (the guide's) and a whole lot of walking. 25 pages. Forgive me, but for me, that's stupifying. Indeed, on re-reading, I skip the whole thing.
But perhaps for you, it would be the best part of the novel, and the things that I love--such as the sub-culture of the folks who are at the Pole--would bore you to tears. It's hard to say. But I'm fairly confident that *some* of it will be interesting, and some of it dull. You've been duly warned.
With regard to Val, I will say little. She is a main character, and it's always a tough ride when you dislike a main character. Let me just say this: she keeps saying (and thinking and showing by her behavior) that she is "toast," i.e. done being a guide in Antarctica. Well, I got it the first time; I really didn't need to be told another half dozen or more times. I also found her approach to relationships pretty irritating, her view of men simplistic and absurd, and her physical attributes (how many women does one meet who are 6'4"? I've met exactly, um, none) to be almost unbelievable. But who knows; you might like her. In fact, there are probably plenty of folks who do.
So there you have it. I like this book enough to re-read it, but it's uneveness really gets to me. It's like going to a 2.5 star movie; you just *know* that it *could* have been so much better that you can't decide if you're more frustrated, or entertained.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining portrait of a remote place and its people, August 5, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Antarctica (Hardcover)
This book is less a story taking place on and more of a portrait of Antarctica in the future, and the people who are so enthralled by the place that their passion for the continent, its history, and their vision of their place in it comes across on every page. Cleverly mixing the continent's short history with the book's current characters and issues, Robinson has added immensly to the growing literature, both fiction and non-fiction, about Antarctica. THe story however, is less important than the setting and the characters, and this is the book's flaw. It makes the book seem a bit long at times, though just when our interest is waning, something dramatic happens, or we become absorbed in adventures of past Antarctic explorers such as Shackleton, Amundsen, or SCott.The authors descriptions of the people and the place are undoubtedly its strong point. An enjoyable read. Also recommended is Elizabeth Arthur's Antarctic Navigation, a work of fiction on the continent and one woman's obsession with it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mars Trilogy redux, June 1, 1998
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This review is from: Antarctica (Hardcover)
I'd been eagerly awaiting Robinson's new book - maybe too much so, admittedly, given the expectations he'd raised with the magnificent Mars Trilogy. But Antarctica is a disappointment: there's about 60 pages of story in the 400-page novel. Characters and situations are watered-down versions of their Mars analogs. Disappointingly, he hasn't advanced his program for economic, social and spiritual reform: I was hoping for something more than was presented in Blue Mars, and got the same, but less. One real strength of the book is his facility with creating tomorrow's future, in describing technology that doesn't quite exist yet, but is perfectly familiar. While passages of his prose are brilliant, in Antarctica his impulse to include every kitchen sink of his research really gets the better of him. Still, he's Robinson, and I don't know of anybody else with as lucid and passionate an opposition to modern capitalism. Antarctica is worth reading, but if you want real brilliance, re-read the Mars Trilogy
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Painful Reading, September 5, 2000
By 
E. Jolly "jollygeer" (El Cerrito, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Antarctica (Hardcover)
I bought this book to read on a long trip and it kept me occupied probably just because I had nothing else. I've long been a fan of arctic and antarctic adventure but this fictional antarctic adventure was absolutely painful. The futuristic plot was stupid at best and the characters were irritating. The book only received two stars instead of one because of its excellent research quality. Frequent excerpts describing past historic antarctic travel were well done and the exerpts on the geological aspects of Antarctica were fascinating. BUT... If I had no working knowledge of geology, I would have not only been lost but bored stiff. As it turns out I put the book down with 50 pages left and started on another. I will never regret not finishing the book. I could not have cared less how the pointless and implausible plot turned out and I wasted more than enough of my life getting as far as I did. For a truly enjoyable read, try "Endurance" by Caroline Alexander or "The Arctic Grail" by Pierre Burton.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Antarctica the last true wilderness", January 10, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Antarctica (Mass Market Paperback)
Once in a long while a book comes along that can leave such an impression on a person, such a new perspective on a whole continent, such a feeling for the characters in the book, you'll forget what was life before you read this. It is impossible to put this book in words, so i won't even try. Just go get the book, its worth it. Oh, and you may think the first hundred or so pages are dull, but after a while in you really feel like you know these people, and that really adds up to the feeling you develop for the characters in the book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mini-trip to Antarctica, December 28, 1999
This review is from: Antarctica (Mass Market Paperback)
For the price of a paperback, I got to visit Antartica for a couple days! Robinson's book is a real treasure. The land, the cold, the science and the social structure in Antarctica are all extremely well explained. History (Shackleton, Amundsen and Scott expeditions) and science are masterfully interwoven with the story. The multiple view points guarantee that the characters stay fresh. There is tragedy, there is humor, there is love but above all there is Antarctica which is the most important character of all. The only problem was the way Robinson mixed science fiction with reality. Wristphones and the water slide are obviously fiction but this makes the reader wonder about the other things she's reading. For example the photovoltatic suits... It's a cool idea but is it fact or fiction?
I've never read the Mars books but I will go on to read them after having read this. I only wish I could go to Antarctica.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ice Cold Pleasure, December 1, 1999
This review is from: Antarctica (Mass Market Paperback)
Antarctica will chill your soul! If you like Michener you really need to go to Antarctica with Kim Stanley Robinson. This book has great historical info, a moving plot, and an artistic touch to it that will chill you on the hottest of afternoons. I really enjoyed Antarctica and fully recomend you hunker down with a copy.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Antarctica: A world worth contemplating, January 31, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Antarctica (Mass Market Paperback)
I have never read Kim Stanley Roberts before reading Antarctica, but am I ever glad I picked this novel up at the airport bookstore!
Before reading this book I, like the vast majority of people on this planet, knew next to nothing about the icy continent at the South Pole. I can proudly say that my knowledge has been increased many fold thanks to Mr. Robinson's superb novel.
Mr. Robinson weaves a wonderful, fictitious story with the true history of exploration of the icy continent, and with modern scientific authority. This combination keeps the reader turning page after page into the wee hours of the morning!
When all is said and done, the reader comes away satisfied with an intelligent story, an appreciation of the history of mans' exploration of Antarctica, and an awareness of the need for a sane,workable, globally-endorsed plan to manage and protect the great continent at the bottom!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting!, June 21, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Antarctica (Hardcover)
I decided to read Antarctica because I loved the Mars trilogy so much and I was certainly not dissapointed. KS Robinson has obviously gone to a tremendous effort and goes to immense detail to make this book as vivid and lifelike a portrayal of Antarctica in the near future as possible. I just couldn't put it down! While I understand that some may find the immense detail of 'Antarctica' (or the Mars trilogy for that matter) to be mind numbing, I believe that the detail put into Robinson's books is what places them on a higher level. The characters, which often leave something to be desired in KSR's other books, are all likeable in this one. And as for the often oblique political references that some may object to... well, it is just a storybook, and maybe if these people took the time to read the arguments put forth in the dialogue of the characters instead of turning their noses in disgust and flipping across the offending pages they might understand where the author is coming from. My one criticism of the book is that in places within the last 250 or so pages it DOES get a little too far fetched which detracts somewhat from the rest of the book... and the ending is a bit too vague and inconclusive. At any rate I must commend the author for the vast scope of his tremendous imagination, for the huge amount of detail and research put into the history and geography of Antarctica.
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Antarctica
Antarctica by Kim Stanley Robinson (Mass Market Paperback - July 6, 1999)
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