Polar Creepiness in Early Sci-Fi Novels: Background information when reading Pym

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Pym

A Novel

by Mat Johnson

Pym by Mat Johnson
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2011, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2012, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jennifer G Wilder

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Beyond the Book:
Polar Creepiness in Early Sci-Fi Novels

Uncharted expanses of polar ice are blank pages for science fiction writers to drool over, and many frozen landmarks spring to mind when trolling the genre. frozen waterfall image What better place to locate creepy caves, secret lairs, and unexplained phenomena? A closer look through the early literature of science fiction reveals that polar inscrutability has stirred the imagination for many generations.

Frankenstein cover Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) opens with the letters of an Arctic explorer, Robert Walton, who comes across an eerie sight: "We beheld, stretched out in every direction, vast and irregular plains of ice, which seemed to have no end. Some of my comrades groaned, and my own mind began to grow watchful with anxious thoughts, when a strange sight suddenly attracted our attention... a being which had the shape of man, but apparently of gigantic stature.... We watched the rapid progress of the traveller with our telescopes, until he was lost among the distant inequalities of the ice."

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket cover ...

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