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Literature / The Ice Limit

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The Ice Limit is a novel by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child first published in 2000.

Sam Macfarlane was disgraced in the scientific community. His partner had left him, his wife had left him, and everyone thought he was a quack. But when he receives news of his partner's demise while unearthing a meteorite in the southern most tip of South America, Macfarlane receives the chance to redeem himself and prove his theories to the entire world by recovering the meteorite for an eccentric billionaire. He is sent with the Effective Engineering Solutions crew to recover the meteorite, a enigmatic group of scientists led by a man named Eli Glinn who promises one thing in his work - absolute success.


This novel provides examples of:

  • Anti-Hero Antagonist: Commandante Vallenar will stop at nothing to punish people who bribe and steal from his country...including trying to flat out murder the crew of the The Rolvaag, chasing them into international waters, and murdering his own men in cold blood when they object to what's basically a suicide mission.
  • Artifact of Doom: The meteorite is made of an unknown element which makes it a superconductor. Touching it releases the stored electricity and will blow you to bits.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The book claims that Puerto Williams, located on Isla Navarino, is the southernmost city on the planet. The actual southernmost town is Puerto Toro, which is located on the eastern coast of the same island.
    • The in-book map also places Isla Desolacion as being part of the Cape Horn Islands, when in reality, it's located further up Chile's western coast, whereas the island identified is actually Isla Wollastone. The author's notes say this is intentional, however.
  • Beware the Honest Ones: The Commandante is ruthless about rules and regulations and has nothing but disdain for the Americans who come offering bribes and shady mining permits. Glinn thinks his strict adherence to protocols makes him predictable. It makes him one of the most unpredictable and dangerous factors in their operation.
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  • Big Eater: When they see her making a breakfast of bacon and maple syrup soup, one of the other characters comments that he's surprised she isn't dead yet.
  • The Chessmaster: Glinn makes it his career to provide absolute success in any problem presented to him. He calls his precautions "double overage" and has contingency plans for his contingency plans. He is rarely, if ever, caught off guard.
  • Disney Death: Seemingly a real death in this book, but proves to be this in the character's next appearance. Eli Glinn is standing right on top of the asteroid when the cargo hold breaks down, resulting in an explosion that splits the ship in half. He appears in the aforementioned book alive and well, and only paraplegic for his troubles.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Glinn realizes why his profile and prediction of the Comandante was wrong when Captain Britton mentions her daughter. He realizes that Timmer was his son, and now the man was chasing them for personal revenge.
  • Fiction 500: Palmer Lloyd is worth 34 billion and purchases entire pyramids without a second thought.
  • Hypocrite: Commandante Vallenar murdered his wife and her lover when he caught the former cheating on him. This despite fathering a son with a German mistress.
  • It's Personal: The Comandante goes completely off the deep end when his son is killed and hunts down the EES crew with insane determination.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: The Comandante after he forgoes his rules and regulations obsession.
  • Spanner in the Works: Lloyd's excitement over the meteorite causes him to continually interfere and cause trouble for Glinn's plans.