The Big Bang Symphony: A Novel of Antarctica

The Big Bang Symphony: A Novel of Antarctica

by Lucy Jane Bledsoe
     
 

Antarctica is a vortex that draws you back, season after season. The place is so raw and pure, all seal hide and crystalline iceberg. The fishbowl communities at McMurdo Station, South Pole Station, and in the remote field camps intensify relationships, jack all emotion up to a 10. The trick is to get what you need and then get out fast.
    At

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Overview

Antarctica is a vortex that draws you back, season after season. The place is so raw and pure, all seal hide and crystalline iceberg. The fishbowl communities at McMurdo Station, South Pole Station, and in the remote field camps intensify relationships, jack all emotion up to a 10. The trick is to get what you need and then get out fast.
    At least that’s how thirty-year-old Rosie Moore views it as she flies in for her third season on the Ice. She plans to avoid all entanglements, romantic and otherwise, and do her work as a galley cook. But when her flight crash-lands, so do all her plans.
    Mikala Wilbo, a brilliant young composer whose heart—and music—have been frozen since the death of her partner, is also on that flight. She has come to the Ice as an artist-in-residence, to write music, but also to secretly check out the astrophysicist father she has never met.
    Arriving a few weeks later, Alice Neilson, a graduate student in geology who thinks in charts and equations, is thrilled to leave her dependent mother and begin her career at last. But from the start she is aware that her post-doc advisor, with whom she will work in Antarctica, expects much more from their relationship.
    As the three women become increasingly involved in each other’s lives, they find themselves deeply transformed by their time on the Ice. Each falls in love. Each faces challenges she never thought she would meet. And ultimately, each finds redemption in a depth and quality of friendship that only the harsh beauty of Antarctica can engender.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The raw emotions of three women in Bledsoe's fifth novel (after Biting the Apple) lead to often explosive interactions among scientists, artists, and other lost souls marooned in Antarctica. A crash-landing and the discovery of a long-frozen body bonds Mikala Wilbo, a composer, to Rosie Moore, a cook beginning her third season at McMurdo research station. Rosie, a woman with nomadic tendencies and no familial ties, longs for a real home and swears this season will be her last. Mikala, meanwhile, is in Antarctica on an artist's grant but also has a powerful secret motive. After the crash survivors are rescued and transported via snowmobiles to McMurdo, Mikala acknowledges her crush on Rosie, who is lusting after someone else. Then arrives Alice Neilson, a geologist who rooms with Rosie to perhaps untoward results. Bledsoe digs into themes of individuality and lonesomeness, and the idea of safety in numbers, and though the narrative's introspectiveness can at times be as daunting as the Antarctic's harsh climate, Bledsoe finds the spark of life amid the ice and desolation. (May)
From the Publisher
“Lucy Jane Bledsoe knows that the people who go to Antarctica move to a heightened existence, as if to the roof of the universe, where they are stripped to their essences under a surreal sun. A beautiful novel about living in that extreme space, vivid and suspenseful.”—Kim Stanley Robinson, award-winning author of Antarctica and the Science in the Capital trilogy

“Against the frozen blues and grays of McMurdo Station, three women trick themselves into thinking they can ‘get what they need and then get out fast.’ But ice holds onto things. Cold makes the wrong kind of warm all too easy. When three independent women come to ‘the cold white polar beauty’ with cautious longing, what they find isn’t what they’d hoped for. Lucy Jane Bledsoe depicts place as a character in this charming, tightly orchestrated novel, filled with striking description and suspenseful plot twists.”
—Carol Guess, author of Tinderbox Lawn

Kirkus Reviews
Three women come to Antarctica looking for answers and find each other. Rosie Moore is an Antarctic veteran. But as she heads toward the continent for her third season working in the McMurdo Station kitchen, she finds herself questioning her nomadic nature and longing for a home. Composer Mikala Wilbo is a newcomer, hoping to bury her grief over the death of her longtime partner as she finally confronts her absentee father, a former hippie who has become one of the Pole's most renowned scientists. It's Rosie's expertise that helps Mikala survive when their plane crashes on the ice, and Rosie's sheer animal exuberance that first starts to reawaken the composer, who hasn't written any music in months. But when Rosie discovers the dead body of a young woman who seems to have wandered off from the crash, the two are once again confronted by the fragility of life. "[T]he line between terror and peace, as well as the one between life and death, was mathematically thin, existed only in theory," Rosie realizes. When Alice Neilson arrives to take the dead girl's place, she acts as a catalyst. A determined homebody, in thrall to her controlling alcoholic mother, Alice is transformed by the Pole's atmosphere of freedom. All three women find themselves falling in love, and all three must avoid the pitfalls of their pasts, until, finally, Alice's emerging bravery sets in play a stunning rescue that will pull all three into a new phase of life. In this compelling novel, Bledsoe (How to Survive in Antarctica, 2006, etc.) captures the deadly beauty of the southernmost continent. Although the male characters tend to be a bit generic-gruff, sexy nerds-the three protagonists are distinctive. A well-balanced humdinger of a story keeps this unusual novel hurtling along like a skidoo on the ice.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780299235000
Publisher:
University of Wisconsin Press
Publication date:
05/06/2010
Pages:
312
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)

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