Ernest Shackleton

Ernest Shackleton

Earlier this month, I told you how frustrating it is when, in the course of the research for my book, I follow a trail into a dead end. Back then I had been reading about Casanova until I had to admit to myself that he didn’t fit into the chapter that I was re-writing. I swallowed and moved on.

Greg Balco

Greg Balco

Well, the opposite can happen too. Almost a year ago, my friend Greg Balco (who has since proposed that I rename this blog An Inconvenient Kluth) suggested that I look into the life of Ernest Shackleton as one of my subsidiary stories. Shackleton took a ship named Endurance to explore the Antarctic, but got stuck in the ice, lost the ship and found himself and his crew, truly, facing a Disaster. What happened next was all about character!

Anyway, I read the book that Greg recommended and loved it–in part because there is a lot of Greg in it. He is a geochronologist and his idea of fun is to camp in the Antarctic ice and drill for snow, or perhaps rocks; or perhaps they just go sledding. He would know exactly what Shackleton and his men endured when they subsisted on blubber on floes of ice for a year, with no light in the winter and no darkness in the summer.

But as my own storyline was evolving Shackleton didn’t seem to fit. Now, a year later, I am reopening the middle chapters to make them perfect. Suddenly one of them has a gaping hole that cries out for a life, a character to fill it.

This is the chapter about the least known of my three main characters: Fabius, the old Roman Senator who fought Hannibal by not fighting him, until the young and dashing Scipio came onto the scene. That doesn’t tell you about the context of the chapter, or about the hole in it that needs filling. Suffice it to say that Shackleton, suddenly, seems to be a perfect fit. Endurance hereby re-enters my bibliography.

3 thoughts on “Endurance

  1. Speaking of geochronology and an Inconvenient Kluth, since you brought it up, I have to say that I’ve been cooking up my own conspiracy theory about carbon. Bear in mind that my theory is half baked. I recently read in Science that some folks are able to do forensics (recent history, like the war in Kosovo) based on the spike in Carbon 14 as a result of nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s and 60s. I think that Lavoisier said that matter can’t be created or destroyed (before nukes). But, as a result of nuclear bomb tests (we are told) carbon was created. The ‘new’ carbon was created from nitrogen in the atmosphere. Are there any suggestions in the literature that nuclear bomb testing has contributed to climate change (by way of tranforming elements). I mean it’s one thing to turn coal into CO2, but to turn nitrogen into carbon seems like a big deal, too. I just read a book called the ‘Orion Project’ about a nuclear bomb powered space ship. The amount of nuclear bomb testing, back in the day, is staggering. I submit quackery from the safety of my pen name. (Yes. I’m back).

  2. Welcome back, Mr Crotchety. I had never heard about this theory until now, but then I googled and found this. So it appears that you’re onto something, and indeed that you, should you be older than 54, contain some of this extra carbon 14 from all those nuke tests. Thanks for bringing something new to my attention.

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