I just finished my sixth book of the year, which puts me just slightly ahead of schedule for 75 this year. In order to read 75 books in 2012, I have to read 6.25 books per month and really, I should frontload the year a little bit since I frequently don’t read as much in the summer months and during December. The sixth book of the year was a free Kindle book a while back – Jeremy Robinson’s Antarktos Rising. Robinson also publishes horror fiction under the name Jeremy Bishop and I read both Torment and The Sentinel last year and enjoyed them enough to give this a try as well. While this book was not horror, I would classify it as sci-fi/horror and so it sounded right up my alley.
The basic set up of Antarktos Rising is that the planet has undergone a cataclysmic crustal realignment, moving most of the habitable land ends up as ice a mile thick and Antarctica, now positioned in the tropics, becomes a lush paradise. Naturally, the better part of 50% of the population of the planet was killed off during this, but those that are left want to stake a claim to the new continent by engaging in a race to the center of the continent. What they don’t realize is there’s more to the thawed out Antarctica than they can even imagine.
Robinson sets the story up very well and does an admirable job of juggling a large cast of characters that somehow and rather inexplicably includes Dr. Merrill Clark, a creationist scientist who believes the Bible to be a literal history. This was hard for me to get my head around as I look at those things as being pretty much mutually exclusive – either you believe the Bible is a history text or you’re a scientist, not both. I was really nervous that I would be beaten over the head with Christian morality a la the Left Behind series, so much so that for the first 50-60 pages, I had my guard up higher than the Antarctic wall that Clark discovers once the ice of the continent melts.
I needn’t have worried, as Robinson handled the religious content much more deftly than lesser writers would have. I have to admit that a part of me enjoys stories steeped in some sort of religion, especially fiction like this. If this book had just been a race for the center of Antarctica with a bunch of military types fighting each other, it would have been a bore. Add in man-eating dinosaurs that somehow survived being frozen for 12,000 years and Biblical characters that should have been wiped out by the Great Flood (which, according to Clark, was the time of the last crustal displacement) and you have a much more engaging story.
I’d recommend giving Antarktos Rising a whirl, even if you’re normally put off by books that seem religious in nature. This is not the Left Behind series. Robinson is a better author than both of those guys combined.