Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Solid Sea and Southern Skies/Alex Gough

Reviewed by: SingleEyePhotos

Genre: Non-Fiction/Travel

Approximate word count: 55-60,000 words

Kindle US: YES UK: YES Nook: NO Smashwords: NO Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


Information on Alex Gough is sketchy, however from his twitter profile we can tell he lives in New Zealand.


From 2005-2007, the author was a member of the British science team stationed at Halley Research Station in Antarctica. This is a transcription of his journal written while he was at the station.


Since this book is just the transcription of a journal that the author wrote while stationed in Antarctica, there is no plot, no character development, or any of the conventions of a novel. That said, the writing is quite good and there are some almost lyrical passages describing the white continent.

The first part talks of his interest in the British Antarctic Survey’s work, his application, and acceptance, for the position, and the intensive preparations needed prior to departing from England. The bulk of the book tells of his day-to-day life posted to Halley. Although I’m sure the author spent his days working, you would hardly guess that from his journal, which dwells almost exclusively on the recreation and social life of the station. The author – even after 2 years at Halley – shows incredible enthusiasm for his work, his coworkers, the land he’s living on, and its creatures.

Even though Halley is a research station, very little is said about the research or scientific studies being done there; it’s only mentioned in passing – this is in no way a dry account of research or of scientists burning the midnight oil in quest for knowledge. The team members show considerable zest for life, and remarkable inventiveness in keeping themselves occupied during the winters when they’re isolated on the station.

There are many pictures taken by the author, showing the station, the landscape, the team members, and the wildlife. Those add quite a bit to the book even viewed in black & white on an e-ink kindle.


This is probably best viewed on a color device such as the Fire or one of the Kindle apps so that the pictures can be fully appreciated. British spelling and idiom is used throughout.

Format/Typo Issues:

There were no issues with the format (layout) of the book other than the occasional picture caption appearing on the following page from the picture itself. There were however many, many typos throughout, though they seemed to increase in the second half. None of those were simply British spellings but were true misspelled words and the occasional misused word. Perhaps the author thought that the misspellings would enhance the ‘this was my journal’ feel, but they merely made the reader feel that the book was sloppily put together. Many words were misspelled over and over – words that could have easily been caught and corrected in one pass through a spellchecker or with a thorough editing. I deducted a star from my rating due to this.

Rating: *** Three stars

No comments: