Need Some Chilling Thrills?

Antarctic mountains

Had enough of the dog days of summer? Wouldn’t a nice icy gust of cold air feel nice right about now? And if your fan’s not working, why not try your imagination? Perhaps you need a chill or two to escape the heat and humidity. How about a nice cold breeze from the Antarctic? Remember, when it’s summer in Texas, it’s the dead of winter on the driest, coldest, windiest continent on earth.

Ready for a blast of chilling thrills? Enhance your imagination with some of these chilling thrillers:

Ice Station      Ice Station / Matthew J. Reilly

June 16th was going to be a very rough day for Lt. Shane Schofield and the Marines in his Reconnaissance Unit speeding across the Antarctic ice towards the Wilkes Ice Station in response to a distress call. Before the day was out they would have to fight off two hostile forces from supposed allies, internal enemies, killer whales, mutant sea creatures, a submarine and a nuclear missile, to preserve what scientists had discovered in a cavern deep below the station: something they think might be an alien spaceship.

Isvik      Isvik / Hammond Innes
An expedition to the Antarctic was not what amateur sailor and out of work consultant Peter Kettil had in mind when he was invited by the Deputy Director of the Royal Maritime Museum to a meeting “with somebody who needed advice on the preservation of ship’s timbers.” But jobs for wood preservation consultants being scarce in the United Kingdom in the 1990s, Kettil soon finds himself on a transatlantic flight with the expedition’s backer, Iain Ward, a very eccentric and loud Scotsman with seemingly unlimited cash which he claims to have won in a lottery. But in flight Ward confides that his money did not really come from the lottery and regales Kittil with tales of gun running and organized crime. After Ward roughly interrogates a journalist in Mexico, Kittil finds himself driving the mountain roads of Peru in flooded conditions to surprise the navigator for their expedition at his remote hacienda, a man whose nom de guerre during the Falklands Island War was Ángel de Muerte, Angel of Death. Clearly, more than historic preservation is driving this mission.

And here’s one that starts in the Antarctic and ends in Houston:
The Sign      The Sign / Raymond Khoury
A television crew half a mile off the coast of Antarctica doing a story on global warming gets an unexpected surprise. They came to film the breakup of the ice shelf when a bright shimmering sphere of light suddenly appears a few hundred feet above the giant ice cliffs. Then it begins to churn and change turning into a glowing cryptic icon of circle and lines. It almost seems alive. When it disappears, everyone begins to speculate on what it was, a hitherto unknown natural phenomenon, an extraterrestrial visitor, or perhaps, a sign from God? 

From the Antarctic, the scene shifts to a Coptic monastery in Egypt, and then to Massachusetts, where the ex-con brother of a programmer stumbles into a nasty bunch of operatives more vicious than anyone he met in prison. Somebody has something so secret going on that they don’t hesitate to kill and kill again to protect it. This fast-paced thriller keeps the intercontinental action going full throttle with non-stop scrapes and escapes until the principal characters land in Houston, Texas for the big climax.

And here are some other chilling stories from the extreme southern part of the planet:

* At the Mountains of Madness / H.P. Lovecraft
The deliberately told and increasingly chilling recollection of an Antarctic expedition's uncanny discoveries-and their encounter with untold menace in the ruins of a lost civilization-is a milestone of macabre literature.

* The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket / Edgar Allan Poe
After reading an 1836 newspaper account of a shipwreck and its two survivors, Edgar Allan Poe penned his only novel, the story of a stowaway on a Nantucket whaleship who finds himself enmeshed in the dark side of life at sea: mutiny, cannibalism, savagery—even death.

* The White Darkness / Geraldine McCaughrean
Symone struggles to survive in the coldest desert on earth, Antarctica. Adding to her trials are her traveling companions: a fanatic “uncle” obsessed with finding an entrance to the hollow earth and two confidence men. With friends like these, it’s no wonder that she relies on the companion of her imagination, Captain Lawrence Oates, who died on Scott’s expedition to the South Pole in 1912, for sound guidance. This is a ripping good adventure and survival story with enough spooky chills to simulate the Antarctic cold.

* “Who Goes There” / John Campbell
A short story that was twice turned into a movie creature feature first as “The Thing From Another World” in 1951 and then as simply “The Thing” in 1982. The second film adaptation is closer to the original story and a bit scarier.