Basically Bipolar: Laughing Maniacally Through the Dark Delirium of a Polar Winter . . . or Two
Rex Nelson, author
At some point you’ll think, “These people are nuts,” and you’ll be right. You may find yourself suddenly glad for the little things in life, like sunlight (a big little thing) or above-zero temperatures (equally appreciable). What you might not know is that the lack of these things can drive a person nuts. Or in this case, more nuts. That’s the road five guys have chosen as they spend an isolated winter together at the summit of the Greenland ice cap. Throw in colossal special effects, a twisting murder mystery, spontaneous combustion, a bit of climate change science, and the longest car chase ever captured in print and you have Basically Bipolar. Truth be told, none of that actually occurs within these pages (except the bit of climate change science—apologies), but they’re likely to be occurring at any given moment in the knife-edge-of-sanity mindset of the protagonist, whom you get to laugh at as he loses his marbles. Don’t worry, he knows he’ll survive because he’s done this before—in Antarctica—and he willingly chose to do it again, so it’s really his own damn fault. To assuage your concern and spoil the ending, eventually he gets to leave.
Engineer Nelson recounts in journal entries the year and three summers (between 2008 and 2012) he spent at Summit Station “on the apex of the Greenland ice cap” to “maintain scientific instruments, launch weather balloons, perform snow accumulation surveys, maintain meteorological suites, and troubleshoot any problems.” But his story is much more than relaying the scientific data he collected; he recounts life at the polar ice station, including his first days at the Summit, where it was -70 °F (“I expected it to be cold here, but I didn’t expect it to be that cold”), and the fatigue he and his five coworkers experienced—“an eerie mind-numbing quality to life” where “brains are malfunctioning.... Words are fleeting, memory short, train of thought easily derailed.” Along the way, he describes the rugged environment (“the monochromaticity of a frosty-white world lends extra brilliance to what color there is”), bouts of insomnia, and breaking up a long-distance relationship. This is a fascinating and perceptive look at what it means to live and work in extreme conditions. (BookLife)
Anthony Powell, creator of Antarctica: A Year on Ice
“A great read. Polar research is often glamourised, but here the realities are laid bare. Come along on a journey of adventure, humour, science, and madness.”