A comic novel focusing on a young woman who, in the wake of her brother's suicide, moves to one of the most remote places on earth, where scientists, artists, and support personnel live, work, argue, and pout inside a geodesic dome.
If you like literature that transports you to exotic locales beyond the reach of commercial airlines and enables you to view hot topics from cool new angles, South Pole Station is just the ticket. It's a novel about esoteric research that clearly required a ton of research to write, yet doesn't smell of it ... Shelby's writing is pithy and funny, and her band of eccentrics are scrappy loners who are best suited to the company of other loners ... In this unusual, entertaining first novel, Ashley Shelby combines science with literature to make a clever case for scientists' and artists' shared conviction that 'the world could become known if only you looked hard enough.'
There’s a lot going on in South Pole Station, and Shelby does better with some of its themes than with others. Cooper’s attempts to come to terms with her brother’s death are surprisingly unmoving, for example, while Sal’s pursuit of a theory as to how the world came into being makes for gripping reading ... But Shelby is very good on social interactions at the end of the earth, and South Pole Station crackles with energy whenever science takes center stage. She makes Sal’s abstruse theorizing both comprehensible and exciting.
...a ramblingly entertaining first novel ... The mechanics of the central plot are best not inspected too closely, although they do yield some nicely rebellious behavior, a stint of high-stakes political jostling and a satisfying if only intermittently convincing nerd romance. More appealing for many readers — who, like Cooper, may glaze over when things get 'too science-y' — are the back stories and posturings of the ensemble cast, whose day-to-day dramas provide a vivid notion of what it’s like to live in a frigid landscape that’s dark for six months of the year.