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Ice Tomb
Deborah Jackson
Invisible College Press, 325 pages

Jeff Carns
Ice Tomb
Deborah Jackson
Deborah J. Jackson lives in Ottawa, ON, Canada. She grew up in the rural backyard of Toronto, near Stratford. Far from soaking up Shakespeare, she spent most of her time reading science fiction and fantasy. In 1986 she received a B.Sc from the University of Ottawa. For many years she worked as a dialysis technician, crafting the odd story on the side until she turned it into a career. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, writing children's novels as well as adult, but always with a twist of science fiction or mystery.

Deborah Jackson Website
Publisher's website
Article regarding D.J. Jackson

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Georges T. Dodds

You've all heard the old adage "don't judge a book by its cover;" but somehow, when a hard SF book that purports to be well researched (see reviewer comments), is set in Antarctica, but has a polar bear on the cover, one really begins to wonder.

Deborah Jackson replies:
I would like to thank Georges T. Dodds for allowing me this opportunity to respond to his review. The issue of the polar bear has been a bone of contention for me since my first glimpse of the cover. As explained in my web site, its appearance shocked and annoyed me. It has absolutely no place in a story about Antarctica. However, the artist must have had a different vision -- or he only read the second chapter, which is set in Alaska -- and the publisher was quite pleased with the cover appeal. So the polar bear remained, and instead I've had to constantly explain its presence. Cover discrepancies are not unique in the literary world, but they are grating. Despite this, however, one might look at the polar bear in a different way. To me it has now become symbolic of the menacing, and downright chilling, aspects of the story. And -- no surprise here -- a number of people have paused in the bookstore to admire it and picked up the book. In this way, readers who might never have sampled a SF novel have been drawn into our world.

Fortunately, the science inside the book, while at times highly speculative, seems pretty accurate. As a scientist myself I must admit that the author has captured the scientist mindset, and while a number of themes such as Atlantean super-technology, moon colonization and unscrupulous media-seeking scientists aren't anything new, they are employed in a well-coordinated, entertaining and -- for all the SF and fantasy that has been set in Antarctica -- fairly original manner.

In Ice Tomb a new hotspot develops in the Antarctic Ice Sheet, which isn't entirely odd since Antarctica is seismically and volcanically active, but when those who investigate the site disappear, it's time to send in someone who knows what they might be up against. Erica Daniels, a vulcanologist, is summoned by NASA, thinking she has been chosen as head geologist for an expedition seeking to prepare the colonisation of the moon. So when the ex-lover who betrayed her gets the job, she's assigned to the Antarctica hot spot project, and she's saddled with a media-hungry archŠologist with a bent for finding Atlantis along with a bunch of gung-ho armed-to-the-teeth marines, she's not a happy camper. What she will find in the barrens of Antarctica will bring her and her ex back together, demonstrate there's something to that old Atlantean super-technology, and, oh yes, determine the fate of the human race in the face a massive impending meteor impact.

Stories of lost races (or their artefacts) in Antarctica go way back, Robert Paltock's The Life and Adventures of Peter Wilkins (1751) being perhaps the earliest. Oddly enough, be it the author's avowed reading of much SF and fantasy informing her writing, or merely coincidence, one can find a number of parallels with the incidents in Ice Tomb and a number of older tales. For example, in Gustavus Pope's Journey to Mars (1894), Martians have a landing field in Antarctica, and are at risk when a meteor shower threatens to strip a moon away from their planet. Along those lines is José Moselli's "Le Messager de la Planète" (in L'Almanach Scientifique, 1925), where a pair of Norwegian explorers, one a geologist, discover an alien spacecraft which is melting the ice around it; before their sled dog kills the alien aboard, they are shown instant video linkup to his home planet, and a number of other nifty technologies. And of course, for people disappearing mysteriously in Antarctica, and the paranoia surrounding it, one cannot forget John W. Campbell, Jr's novella "Who Goes There?" (1938) [the basis of the films The Thing From Another World (1951) and more recently The Thing (1982)].

That said, Deborah Jackson does create believable characters, and manages to present the more esoteric technologies without great gobs of exposition. Jackson's handling of the consequences of all that happens is perhaps a bit terse considering the enormity of the events, and certainly one might expect those who live through it to be somewhat more traumatized, but perhaps -- I speculate -- this is all sequel-fodder. As for Ice Tomb I'm not saying the whole thing is entirely believable, even the parts which don't involve super-technologies, but a rapid pace and multi-dimensional characters who actually evolve make Ice Tomb eminently readable and any minor flaws easily ignored.

Copyright © 2005 Georges T. Dodds

Georges Dodds is a research scientist in vegetable crop physiology, who for close to 25 years has read and collected close to 2000 titles of predominantly pre-1950 science-fiction and fantasy, both in English and French. He writes columns on early imaginative literature for WARP, the newsletter/fanzine of the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association and maintains a site reflecting his tastes in imaginative literature.

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