Sunday, October 19, 2008

Book Report: Ice Station Zebra, by Alistair MacLean

A bit of a departure from the usual run of SF/F, this is a cold-war era spy/detective thriller from Britain. The plot is something, with complications and reversals and revelations galore. A typical example of this is the main character's mission, of which he gives four different versions throughout the book. Each version is a little closer to the truth, but only the last of which actually explains what's doing. Set against this is an antagonist whose identity and mission are a mystery to the very end.

The characters are given no depth whatsoever, as is typical in this sort of thing. But the events of the plot come so quickly that there's no time for depth.

The story concerns a British civilian doctor who boards an American nuclear submarine to rescue a scientific detachment trapped on the ice in the high arctic. I'm used to reading North American renditions of British characters and their speech. I wonder if our depictions of them are as skewed as MacLean's depiction of the Americans in his book. Speech mannerisms and idioms are just off base enough that it added to the entertainment.

Ulysses Rating: 3 - I enjoyed this, but I didn't love it.

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