Black Inc., $32.99 pb, 304 pp
Dennis Glover’s third novel centres on the much-mythologised British Antarctic Expedition of 1910–13 that saw Captain Robert Falcon Scott attempt to reach the geographic South Pole for the first time in history. Scott and four companions arrived at the Pole too late (five weeks after Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen) and would later succumb to the brutal conditions encountered on their return journey to Cape Evans. As Glover alludes to in the preface (and dramatises throughout the novel), details of the Scott expedition – possible causes of the tragedy, potential alternatives – as well as its historical, cultural, and/or scientific significance, have long been the subject of voluminous print and broadcast media (both popular and academic) and have fuelled often obsessive and granular debates. Thaw is both a contribution to, and comment on, this discourse.
Structured in eight parts that alternate between dual timelines, the novel depicts the Scott expedition (including its preparation and initial aftermath) alongside a modern narrative that follows Cambridge researchers grappling with the impact of climate change in the polar regions. This duality allows Glover to represent the polar party’s disastrous fate (realised in vivid, apocalyptic detail) while also contextualising events with the benefit of twenty-first century scientific evidence and historical findings, ultimately inviting a link to a more contemporary (and uncomfortably familiar) apocalyptic scenario.