The South Pole, often talked about as that place melting quicker than the ice cubes in our summer drinks, happens to be the location of Ashley Shelby’s debut novel, South Pole Station. Filled with characters that one would expect in a place like this—scientists and researchers—it also has an unexpected menagerie of authors and artists, as well as an interpretive dancer and a climate skeptic who round out this spectacle at the southernmost tip of our planet.
The story starts miles away in Minnesota, where 30-year-old struggling artist Cooper Gosling has been offered a spot at the Amundsen-Scott research station. It’s hard to deny the unique inspiration such a place could evoke, but Cooper’s reasons to be so far from civilization have more to do with the personal trauma of her twin brother’s recent passing.
At the station, Cooper meets other “Polies” with whom she automatically shares the camaraderie of being in one of the strangest places on earth, although she still bears the weight of feeling like a lone castaway. But it’s hard to keep romance and friendships at bay, even in the most scientifically sterile place, and Cooper slowly finds the comfort she’s looking for. Throughout witty, often hilarious scenarios, Shelby expertly weaves in the legitimate political and environmental concerns of climate change faced by the worldwide scientific community today.
Shelby’s exploration of the human spirit continuously digs deeper, ever in search of answers to all of life’s important questions—scientific and otherwise.