“SOS Antarctica” (Antarctica), by Kim Stanley Robinson, translated from English (US) by Dominic Haas, Pocket, “Imaginaire”, 766 pages, 10.80 euros.
Antarctica, beginning of the twenty-first centuryAnd the A century which is not quite our century. The renewal of the international treaty that has protected the White Continent since 1961 from industrial and geopolitical appetites is slipping sharply under pressure from lobbyists. It now appears that this last land frontier is collapsing under the insidious and combined actions of tourism, mineral exploration and military objectives. Global warming is not slowing down, quite the opposite: the famous opening scene of the movie The next day, by Roland Emmerich (2004), with his brutal crack that unleashed an iceberg Rhode Island sizeIt doesn’t seem very far away.
Strange winds of rebellion seem to be rising, however, when mysterious environmental vandals—no doubt local employees (high-altitude mountain guides, staff of scientific stations and life bases, but also mining companies, or even resident artists and very specialized tourists)—began to attack the facilities. The most symbolic, less and less discreet. Soon, a very anomalous American senator sent his special envoy to investigate what is happening around the South Pole.
The American Kim Stanley Robinson, who will turn 70 in March, is one of the main authors of contemporary science fiction, and has been crowned with the most important literary prizes related to the genre (Hugo, Nebula, Locus). Soon after the summit of scientific and political speculation that formed him The Mars Trilogy (La City Press, 1994-1996), appeared 1998, SOS AntarcticaTwenty-five years later, it is a primary novel whose significance remains untouched. Somewhat unnoticed in France, it has since been out of print. The group “Imaginary”, at Pocket, had the happy idea to re-issue it, allowing us to discover or rediscover this wonderful work.
A highly accurate science backed by impeccable documentation, and radical ecological activism in the great tradition inaugurated by Edward Abbey (wrench ring, 1975; Galmeister, 2006, repr. 2013), well aware of the political difficulties of acting: Kim Stanley Robinson has mastered the delicate balance between technical data and the infusion of the novel like very little. It also gives to read Homer’s debates that often infuriate environmental activists, pointing to the concrete development of everyday utopias.
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