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In this unforgettable debut novel Clare Dudman has imaginatively re-created the life of the German scientist Alfred Wegener, whose theory of continental drift—derided by his contemporaries—would eventually revolutionize our perception of the world. Wegener's irresistible urge to discover the unknown takes him from the horrors of World War I's trenches to several lengthy expeditions across the unexplored ice of Greenland, an extraordinary quest that—with the support of a remarkable woman—gives birth to a powerful ...
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In this unforgettable debut novel Clare Dudman has imaginatively re-created the life of the German scientist Alfred Wegener, whose theory of continental drift—derided by his contemporaries—would eventually revolutionize our perception of the world. Wegener's irresistible urge to discover the unknown takes him from the horrors of World War I's trenches to several lengthy expeditions across the unexplored ice of Greenland, an extraordinary quest that—with the support of a remarkable woman—gives birth to a powerful idea worth fighting for. Distinguished by its evocation of the unforgiving beauty of the Arctic, this stunningly written tale of obsession and courage will thrill readers of scientific history and the best adventure writing.
Her head is sinking onto my shoulder. But when I shift she wakes and whimpers so I talk again.
Ah such mountains, my little one, if only we could see them: one continent nudging another, India against Asia, buckling up the land between to form a plateau in the clouds. Or the Andes, ribbing the earth like your curled up backbone, such acolossal chain, arching backwards as it encounters the chilled Pacific. So many land-hours have passed. The sima-surface of the ocean floor has set quite hard and the westward drift of the Americas has become a push. The leading edges buckle, the sial splinters, and from these rents volcanoes quietly exude a runny lava.
I stop. By my neck there is a wet patch of dribble. When we pass a mirror I see her eyes are shutting and then being forced open again and so I continue.
A land-day has passed and what do we see? Behind the stately-moving continent are a dozen islands, sloughed off in its wake, and in front of each island, at the cold bottom of an old ocean, the sima has become brittle enough to fracture and form a trench. So deep, Hilde. Imagine the blackness, imagine the cold. Every movement is sudden and ferocious: earthquakes, Hilde, great tidal waves, and before each shift a mighty swelling up of sima. Imagine a volcano, all that fire, all that heat.
She whimpers a little then sucks on her fist.
But this is so far away, little one, or so long ago. Even the land does not remember when the sial of Marburg last swept through oceans. There is nothing to fear. The only earthquakes here, my love, are the ones we make ourselves.
Excerpted from One Day the Ice Will Reveal All Its Dead by Clare Dudman Copyright © 2004 by Clare Dudman. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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|Part I||Die Einleitung (The Introduction)||7|
|Part II||Die Hypothese (The Hypothesis)||113|
|Part III||Die Methode (The Method)||211|
|Part IV||Der Schluss (The Conclusion)||325|
|Extract from New York Times, 12 December 1931||400|
Posted February 22, 2010
Dudman has captured the insatiable curiosity and artistic spirit of an amazing scientist. I feel a lot closer to understanding what would draw someone to lose himself in the white silence of Greenland's icy wilderness in the early years of the 20th Century. Wegener becomes a real person, not just a man of science so many years ahead of his time with his theory of continental drift.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 4, 2004
ONE DAY THE ICE is a poetic, fictionalized biography of early 20th century German scientist Alfred Wegener. As scientists go, Wegener is pretty obscure ¿ I hadn¿t heard of him before reading this book. Trained in meteorology, Wegener made several grueling trips to arctic Greenland to conduct experiments. However, he did not limit his scientific curiosity to weather. His most important theory was continental drift, which was highly controversial at the time. The compelling need to defend his theory to skeptical geologists led to him leaving his family at age 49 for a final trip to Greenland. Early on Dudman uses the analogy of beads on a string to describe memories and it¿s a very fitting analogy for the flow of the book. Written in first person, Wegener reminisces about his life ¿ moving from one set of memories to another. Dudman captures everyday sweet and bittersweet moments of love, family and deep friendships; the driving force behind a scientific mind; the beautifully bleak and hostile landscape of Greenland; and the horrific chaos of war. This is not a standard biography with comprehensive coverage of dates and names, and is also not a scientific discourse on continental drift and other theories. ONE DAY is instead an emotional portrait of a man driven to understand the workings of the world through science. Dudman does an excellent job of setting up the times and Wegener¿s narrative never rings false. At times I forgot that I was reading fiction because the style was so convincing. Not a quick, easy read, but ultimately satisfying. This will mostly appeal to history/science buffs who want to peek into the mind of a early 1900s scientist.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 5, 2004
Nowadays, the theory of plate tectonics is firmly grounded in fact. For example, from satellites in stable orbit and using lasers to bounce off them, the various continental plates can be measured moving relative to each other. But in the early 20th century, when Wegener proposed his theory, no such observations were possible. Existing evidence was far more tenuous. Dudman attempts to recreate some of that controversy in this fictionalised biography. Based in part on actual biographies written by his wife and a colleague. Some of spirit of the scientific debates come through well in portions of this book. Personally, being a physicist, I would have wished for a more detailed fleshing out of the issues. But I realise that Dudman has to pitch the book to a wider audience. To this ends, the book seems to drift [pun intended]. The travails of Wegener tromping in the snows of Greenland are told in a somewhat incoherent stream of consciousness style. No doubt, this is meant to reflect Wegener's state of mind, as told in the first person. But the meandering also happens where he describes his experiences with his family and friends, when not on expeditions. Frankly, I could not discern much of an interesting plot.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.