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Literature / Ice Station

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Antarctica is about to explode.

Hailed as "More Explosive than Die Hard and faster than Speed," Ice Station makes a considerable case for its inclusion in the action movie hall-of-fame. Surprising, considering it's a novel.

Written by Matthew Reilly in 1998, Ice Station is the riveting story of Lieutenant Shane Schofield and his crack team of US Marines, whose mission is to secure an important discovery at an Antarctic research station.

Meanwhile, Action Hero Schofield takes the opportunity to kill French commandos, Orca whales, British commandos, guys with crossbows, traitorous American commandos, and even a submarine.


This book contains examples of:

  • Adapted Out: The audio drama removes Legs Lane, Mitch Healy, and Samurai Lau.
  • Area 51: The book mentions that UFO storage facilities have been built in the Nevada desert. They've remained completely empty.
  • Artificial Limbs: Mother loses her leg to a Orca, an unpleasant surprise to a shark in a Scarecrow.
  • Artistic Licence: It's speculated the French were able to reach Wilkes Station so quickly because their special forces were already at the nearby French research station on a training exercise. Military exercises are prohibited by the Antarctic Treaty. Military personnel and equipment are allowed in Antarctica, but only for scientific purposes. This might be intentional, as one of the book's subplots is how countries publicly support international treaties, while casually violating them behind the scenes.
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  • Bald of Awesome: Mother. She gets grabbed by an Orca and her response is to shoot it in the head. That's awesome enough, but she does it while she knows the station is basically one big bomb that a single spark will set off and she still does it. She later manages to outfight a knife-wielding Snake and pin him to the wall with her good leg while hopped up on pain meds.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Jean Petard, leader of the French forces; Trevor Barnaby, leader of the British; Chuck Kowalski, leader of the IGC.
  • Briar Patching: Scarecrow tricks Mr. Nero into opening a retractable bridge during a Mexican Standoff by looking nervously at the controls. He'd also tied two grenades across the opening so the pins would be pulled when it retracted.
  • Broken Pedestal: Trevor Barnaby is repeatedly mentioned as a mentor to Scarecrow before he shows up leading the murderous SAS troops who are after the ship, although Shane takes this fairly well.
  • Closed Circle: The entire book takes place within and immediately surrounding the ice station.
  • Cold Sniper: Snake. It also helps that he's the mole.
  • Defiant to the End: Schofield when captured by the Brits. Fuck Britannia indeed.
  • Determinator: Schofield will not be deterred form his mission and survives everything that gets thrown at him. It sets the tone well for the rest of the series.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: As advertised on the back of the book.
  • Dwindling Party: Twelve marines arrive, but due to the French, the British, and the ICG, only four survive.
  • Eerie Arctic Research Station: The novel takes place in and around the Wilkes Station in Antarctica. In reality, Wilkes was a research station established in January of 1957 on Vincennes Bay, consisting of several squat, trailer-like structures set on solid ground. It was abandoned in 1969 when the structures had degraded to the point of becoming a fire hazard. But the Wilkes Station described in the book is a technically advanced (for the 1990's) structure several stories deep in the ice, built around a central open shaft allowing access to a large borehole leading to the water beneath - perfect for pitched gun battles on the balconies surrounding the shaft and desperate maneuvers to avoid the frigid waters and killer whales circling below. As described in the book:
    "Austin was standing at the edge of the large, round pool that formed the base of the Wilkes Ice Station. Five stories deep, Wilkes was a remote coastal research station, a giant underground cylinder that had literally been carved into the ice shelf. A series of narrow catwalks and ladders hugged the circumference of the vertical cylinder, creating a wide circular shaft in the middle of the station. Doorways led off each of the catwalks — into the ice — creating the five different levels of the station. Like many others before them, the residents of Wilkes had long since discovered that the best way to endure the harsh polar weather was to live under it."
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Intelligence Convergence Group, a joint venture between the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the National Reconnaissance Office, tasked with acquiring any sort of technological advantage to maintain America's superpower status and killing anyone who knows about said advantage.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Admiral Clayton and the rest of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. At least until Clayton gets vaporized on the deck of Wasp.
  • Improvised Weapon: Gas-powered grappling hooks are used as weapons at one point. Very effectively.
  • Kill It with Ice: Liquid Nitrogen Grenades make an appearance, but don't cause the instant freezing usually seen with this trope. Instead, people exposed to them freeze from the outside in.
  • Knife Fight: The characters are reduced to this when the air becomes mixed with a flammable gas.
  • Known Only by Their Nickname: All the Marines go by their call-signs, but especially Montana whose real name is only mentioned right at the beginning. Probably because mentioning it more than that would telegraph the fact that he's an ICG mole. Also true of the French paratroopers, who all use pseudonyms; their real names are never revealed.
  • Made of Iron: Schofield and Mother. Schofield runs around doing crazy stunts with a broken nose and rib for the second half of the book, and Mother manages to survive by herself for most of the book missing the bottom half of her left leg.
  • Mauve Shirt: Most of Schofield's squad count as this; Santa Cruz, Rebound, Lau, Montana, Hollywood, Healy and Legs Lane don't have much in the way of character development. Healy, Hollywood and Legs Lane last about five minutes before dying, Lau is suffocated without so much as a line, Montana is The Mole and manages to kill Cruz before dying himself. Surprisingly, Rebound is lucky enough to walk away unharmed.
  • Mysterious Antarctica: The report of an alien spacecraft discovered beneath Wilkes research station serves as the Macguffin for the various factions to fight over.
  • One Last Smoke: In the scene where the British soldiers are about to kill Schofield by lowering him headfirst into a pool of killer whales. The commander gives him a last request- "A blindfold? Cigarette? Shot of brandy?" and Schofield makes a last minute plan, opts for the cigarettenote , and uses it to set fire to the detonator cord entwined in his handcuffs, and then he escapes, kills them all and becomes a legend for killing all the bad guys and blowing everything up, classic Scarecrow style..
  • Put on a Bus: Rebound and most of the surviving scientists at the base make it to a neighboring station in the veichles while the core cast is less lucky.
  • Real Politik: Discussed surrounding the re-ratification of NATO and the hidden squabbles of its members in the years following The Great Political Mess Up.
  • Red Shirt: Healy is introduced in the last tenth of page 89. He's dead before the page even ends.
  • Tropical Epilogue: Played with. The fate of a minor character from the backstory is revealed when the epilogue zips to a South American beach, where a scavenger finds debris in the ocean from the character's crashed plane.


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