The ends of the earth is the smooshing together of two anthologies about the arctic and antarctic. It’s a mixture of both the best fiction and non-fiction stories about these two interesting places.
I think I preferred the old journals of the first explorers and the science excerpts more than any of the non-fiction prose. Those seemed to be “journalist goes to the arctic and tries to be a bit deep about it all.” Some of the fiction was also a bit rubbish, though I did enjoy Kim Stanley Robinson’s excerpt, I might have a go at reading it.
My favourite bit was probably Scott’s journals, probably because they were so harrowing and tragic. Like, holy crap, just sitting there knowing you’re going to die and just keep making notes day after day.
Also, they were all a bit mad. I couldn’t believe the amount of stuff they put up with. How mind numbingly cold and harsh it must have been. It made me want to go and visit but with all the modern convenience and probably not to go to the pole. Just look at some glaciers and penguins before they’re all gone.
The other really good ones were the last 2 in the arctic section, which show the impact of industrial pollutants and climate change on the people, animals and ecosystem in the arctic. They were amazing but so terribly depressing: basically, things are fucked. I know we already know it, but seeing it laid out in such personal terms by the scientists who have been covering this for the last 30 years is so gutting.
Anyway, it’s a good-ish book. I think I could have done without the sections of people trying to be deep about blue ice and had more science instead.