After finishing In The Land of White Death, I next read Resolute, a book centered around the search for the Northwest Passage (a supposed short-cut through the Arctic) that consumed so much, time, energy, and ultimately, lives in the early and middle ninteenth century. Much of the exploration done in that region was a by-product of rescue expeditions sent looking for Sir John Franklin, whose two ships, the Erebus and the Terror were lost there (most likely in 1846). Some were earnestly looking for Franklin, though some were undoubtedly only using Franklin as an excuse to raise the necessary funds to go exploring on their own.
Having completed the book Resolute, I have now started Ninety Degrees North, which, by happy coincidence, begins with the last of the so-called Frankin rescue expeditions and continues into the early twentieth century to cover men like Amundsen and Peary and the quest to become the first to the North Pole.
I find it interesting that there are variations in the details of the overlapping stories between the two books, though on reflection it is not at all surprising. Each expedition often resulted in the publication of journals written by several of the participants, and these journals were frequently at significant odds with each other. Who the historians chose to believe as they researched their own books goes a long way toward explaining the differences in the details (though not necessarily the differences in spelling of the names of some of the characters involved).
On the whole, these Polar explorers continue to fascinate me. They really were the astronauts of their day. And to echo what Rob Sawyer said on the way to dinner one night at ChattaCon, the research you do before writing a novel is not only necessary, it's a heck of a lot of fun.
In between Polar readings I am also doing some sporadic reading of a short story collection titled Beyond Armageddon. I will confess (take note, IGMS contributors) that I have a real penchant for post-apocalyptic stories, and this collection, published in 1985, contains many of the standards ("There Will Come Soft Rains" by Bradbury and "A Boy and His Dog" by Ellison), as well as a few that are new to me. I have to admit that part of the reason I picked it up was that it was assembled by Walter Miller Jr., author of the famous Canticle for Leibowitz. Unfortunately I found his lengthy introduction to the book, as well as his briefer introductions to the individual stories, to be rambling, preachy and obtuse. This, I suppose, explains why haven't dived more wholeheartedly into it, but only poke at it every now and then.
I've also been nibbling on a tome called Dear Scott, Dear Max, which is a collection of letters between F. Scott Fitzgerald and his editor at Scribner, Maxwell Perkins. I've always been a big fan of Fitzgerald and read anything by or about him that I can find. But this collection of letters is also a fascinating insight into the mind of Perkins, who was not only Fitzgerald's editor, but also that of Ernest Hemingway, Thoman Wolfe, and several other major literary figures of that era. There are lots of books out there about/for writing, but not nearly as much about editing, so I am enjoying this book from both sides of the equation.
And speaking of reading and editing, I am also busy reading again for IGMS. For a variety of reason the slush reading had to be put on hold for a little while. I needed to get certain info and input from OSC, and was having a devil of a time catching up with him. But those matters have (finally) been resolved and it's full steam ahead again.
So what are you reading these days?