Thursday, December 22, 2016

Book Review: The Birth of the People's Republic of Antarctica

John Calvin Bachelor's 1983 Science Fiction novel The Birth of the People's Republic of Antarctica is a strange mishmash of old Norse and English sagas, largely focusing on Beowulf and stories of Thor and Odin, with a world on the brink of destruction and the promise of a new society.

The novel follows Grim Fiddle, a Swede destined to become the ruler of a nation at the southernmost pole of the planet and follows him from conception through to old age. Much of the novel takes place at sea, and Bachelor does an interesting thing for science fiction, in that he sets the majority of the novel away from society or in smaller locales where the inhabitants live in a traditional manner, deftly sidestepping both descriptions of futuristic cities, the causes of the the destruction of global civilization and any chance to see our narrator's world through any lens but his own.

The narrative works quite well as saga, following Grim's journey across the years and the globe, moving ever southward and painting a darker and darker picture of the societies he leaves behind, but with little description of the titular republic until the final fifty pages.

An intriguing read.

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