Literary Fiction

  • Thanks to SPRI in Cambridge UK for access to their fiction stacks in the basement!!
  • My more extensive and complete Polar genre fiction list is here and my fiction film list is here.
  • Antarctic fiction with more complete pre-1950s listings here
  • More `Cli-fi' (climate fiction) can be found here.
  • Ebook-only fiction (no ISBN) not included. Missing most international arctic fiction and most Malvinas/Falklands war novels.
Selected Literary and/or Historical Fiction
Pole Year Title Author Comment
S 1838 The Narrative of Arthur G Pym of Nantucket Edgar Allen Poe gothic sea novel follows boy who stows away on whaling ship
N 1864 English at the North Pole Jules Verne also known as The Purchase at the North Pole
N 1895 To Greenland and the Pole William Gordon stables inspired by Nansen
S 1897 Antarctic Mystery: The Sphinx of the Ice Fields Jules Verne sequel to Poe
N 1909 A Dash at the Pole William Lyon Phelps satire of Cook and Peary and race to North Pole
N 1909 First at the Pole Frank Shaw American and British teams race to the North Pole
S 1912 The Turnstile Alfred E W Mason polar explorer loosely based on Scott & Shackleton
S 1926 Spinster of this Parish William Maxwell Antarctic explorer loosely based on Shackleton
S 1927 The Woman Thou Gavest Me Hall Caine Polar explorer loosely based on Shacklton
S 1928 Over the Polar Ice Eustace Adam loosely based on first Byrd Antarctic expedition/flight to South Pole
S 1930 Lost at the South Pole Franklin Dixon loosely based on first Byrd Antarctic expedition/flight to South Pole
S 1931 Bird Life at the Pole Wolcott Gibbs satire on Byrd's first Antarctic expedition
S 1931 South of Zero Margaret Ross fictitious Antarctic expedition
S 1931 By Bicycle to the South Pole Emilio Salgari Italian, fiction British-American bicycling trip to South Pole
S 1935 The Man Who Deserted Ward Copley fictional Antarctic expedition
N 1947 The White Magic John Keir Cross based on Grinnell's serch for Franklin
N 1952 To the White North Kathleen Fidler about John Franklin's expeditions
N 1959 The Undiscovered Country Jay & Audrey Walz based on Elisha Kent Kane's Greenland expeditions
N 1960 Call of the Arctic Robert Steelman based on explorer Charles Francis Hall
S 1964 Gabriel Jo McDonald 'based on the 3rd French Antarctic Expedition to Adelie Land in 1952-53'
N 1968 A Dream in Polar Fog Yuri Rytkheu trans from Russian, set in 1910, an arctic sailor lives among the Chukchi people or northeastern Siberia. reprinted 2005
S 1970 The Survivor Thomas Keneally professor recalls surviving an earlier doomed Antarctic trip
S 1970 Cape of Storms John Gordon Davis A story of the last of the whaling fleets in Antarctica
N 1974 The Snowboys Forrest Webb fictional English & American expedition in Greenland
S 1976 The Race: A Novel of Polar Exploration Kare Holt trans from Norwegian, really interesting version of the race to South Pole
N 1976 The Balloonist MacDonald Harris novel about Swedish balloon trip to Arctic in 1897. Natl. Book Award nominee, reprinted in 2011
S 1978 Victim of the Aurora Thomas Keneally historical murder mystery on a British South Pole expedition in 1909. Villainous victim is a stereotyped predatory, untrustworthy, conniving homosexual man
S 1981 The Stone Idol Franklin Dixon Hardy Boys #65; search for Stone Idol includes Antarctica
S 1982 Sur Ursula LeGuin Fabulous short story from the New Yorker about women sledding to the South Pole, before the men. In LeGuin's "The Compass Rose" & other anthologies
N 1984 Anna's Book George MacBeth
S 1987 More Die of Heartbreak Saul Bellow not at the Poles but a major character has worked there. "Its not that you're so asocial, but a man who likes people doesn't wind up in the Antarctic"
N 1987 The Discovery of Slowness Sten Nadolney trans. from German (pub 1983), fictionalized biography of Sir John Franklin
N 1991 The Terrors of Ice and Darkness Christoph Ransmayr young Italian obsessed with recreating the Austro-Hungarian polar expedition of 1872-74
N 1992 Broken Lands: A Novel of Arctic Disaster Robert Edric about Sir John Franklin and the Northwest passage trips
N 1994 The Cage Audrey Schulman professional nature photographer in Arctic to shoot Polar Bears
N 1994 The Rifles William Vollmann about Franklin expedition, the forced relocation of Inuit families in the 1950s, and the effects of Western technology on indigenous peoples
S 1995 The Birthday Boys Beryl Bainbridge fictional account of Scott's expedition to South Pole
S 1995 Antarctic Navigation Elizabeth Arthur obsessed heroine wants to recreate voyage of RF Scott
S 1995 Heroes & Lovers: An Antarctic Obsession Lucy Kavaler suffragette marches to South Pole, to best her manly but sexist lover. Historical romantic fiction - "Great God this is an awful book", ugh.
N 1995 A Discovery of Strangers Rudy Wiebe fictional account of Franklin's overland expedition to Arctic Ocean
S 1997 Mrs Chippy's Last Expedition Caroline Alexander Juvi, "Journal" of Shakleton's cat
N 1997 Do White Whales Sing at the Edge of the World Paul Wilson After WWII, a group retraces a doomed Arctic expedition
N 1998 Inexpressible Island David S Young Play based on true story of the scientific party of Scott's expedition
N 1999 Voyage of the Narwhal Andrea Barrett voyage to the arctic in search of Sir John Franklin's lost expedition
N 1999 The Ice Master James Houston novel of 1875 whaling expedition to the Arctic
S 1999 The Nanny and the Iceberg Ariel Dorfman sex, Chilean politics, and an Antarctic iceberg brought to the Sevilla World Expo for the Chilean Pavilion (Chilean author writing in English)
N 2000 North With Franklin John Wilson `The Lost Journals of James Fitzjames'; fictionalized account of Franklin expedition
N 2000 The Merry Widow Meagan McKinney historical romance, woman pretends to be widow of Arctic explorer from Franklin expedition
N 2000 Latitudes of Melt Joan Clark Northern Canada; one character becomes a deep sea ice diver
S 2000 Requiem Antarctica Jane Yolen and Robert Harris short story, Asimov's science fiction magazine (May). Scott was a vampire...
S 2001 The Grotto Berg Charles Neider novella about nature photographer in Antarctica
N 2001 I'm Gone Jean Echenoz trans. from French; Parisian art dealer has a midlife crisies & abandons family to chase after Arctc treasure.
S 2001 The White Adrian Caesar AUS; novel about Scott and Mawson.
N 2001 The Ice Child Elizabeth McGregor London journalist looks for archaeologist who has disappeared while researching the Franklin expedition
S 2001 Eliot's Rock Terry Shumaker geologist goes on Byrd's 2nd expedition and later gets involved in the Manhattan Project
S 2001 May Be Some Time Brenda Clough future time traveling doctors rescue Titus Oates' body from Antarctica; short story in Analog; Apr 2001. Expanded to (600 pp, self-pub?) ebook `Revise the World', 2008
S 2002 Tiptoe, on a Fence Post Brenda Clough sequel to above; Analog Jul 2002
N 2002 The Seal Wife Kathryn Harrison young scientist isolated at weather observatory in early 20c Alaska has affair with native Alaskan
S 2002 Polar T. R. Pearson in a small Virginia town, a shiftless character calls himself Titus & mutters about Antarctica
N 2002 The Navigator of New York Wayne Johnston historical novel about a young Newfie explorer, & the Cook & Peary race to the North Pole
N 2002 North Roger Hubank historical fiction about the US Lady Franklin Bay Expedition to the Canadian acrtic in 1881 (only 6 of 25 men survived).
S 2002 Antarctica Claire Keegan short story in collection of same name; women has affair and ends up tied to the bed while Antarctic documentaries relentlessly play on TV
N 2003 One Day the Ice Will Reveal All its Dead Claire Dudman about Alfred Wegener
N 2003 The Rope Eater Ben Jones young man joins arctic sailing expedition in 1860s
S 2003 White Marie Darrieussecq French, Eng trans. pub. in 2006, set in Antarctic research base
N 2004 North Donna Jo Napoli Young Adult, boy runs away to follow Matthew Henson's trek to the North Pole
S 2004 Colder than Ice Helen Macpherson Australian archaeologist & American psychologist find remains of the first Antarctic exploration team.
N 2005 Smilers Bones Peter Lerangis Young Adult; Fictional account of Minik (Greenand child brought to NY by Robert Peary
S 2006 The Brief History of the Dead Kevin Brockmeier Coca-cola employee Laura Byrd - in Antarctica to bottle the melting ice- may be the last survivor of a deadly virus on Earth
S 2006 Degrees of Separation Laurence Fearnley NZ; composer, young woman, and skua scientist reflect on their time in Antarctica; (New Zealand writer from Artists to Antarctica program)
N 2006 The Terror Dan Simmons historical gothic about Sir John Franklin
N 2006 Afterlands Steven Heighton historical novel about Polaris survivors
S 2006 The White Darkness Geraldine McCaughrean Young Adult. In Antarctica with her crazy 'Uncle Victor', who wants to deposit her into Symmes hole, a 14 yr old girl imagines conversations with Titus Oates (oops - an awkward choice, given the recent claim that Oates impregnated an 11 year old girl before going to Antarctica).
S 2006 Voyage Along the Horizon: A Novel Javier Marias trans. from Spanish; a 1900 voyage to Antarctica with scientists, writers, & artists. Supposedly a parody of 19th C novels. They never get anywhere NEAR Antarctica.
S 2006 Moj of the Antarctic Mojisola Adebayo stage play performed in England; African American slave woman escapes from slavery by passing as male, joins a whaling ship & gets to Antarctica. Pub. in 'Hidden Gems', ed. by D. Osborne, 2008. Pub in `Mojisola Adebayo:Plays One' along with ''Matt Henson: North Star'', 2012
N 2007 The Solitude of Thomas Cave Georgina Harding 17th century English whaler winters alone in Greenland
N 2007 Consumption Kevin Patterson Inuit family in Arctic
N 2007 The Yiddish Policeman's Union Michael Chabon murder mystery/alternate history where 2 million refugee Jews of Europe become the "frozen Chosen", temporarily, in Sitka Alaska
S 2008 Into White Silence Anthony Eaton Young Adult. In 1922, an exploration vessel is trapped in the Antarctic icepack. Author had Australian Antarctic Arts fellowship
N 2008 House of Meetings Martin Amis WWII Russian slave labor camp above Arctic Circle
S 2008 The White Road and Other Stories Tania Hershman in the White Road, a woman runs a cafe in Antarctica
S 2008 A Buyers Guide to Maps of Antarctica Catherynne Valente short story and 2009 World Fantasy Award Nominee; online here
S 2009 Pescador's Wake Katherine Johnson loosely based on sea chase of Aus. vs Uruguayan ship in Antarctic waters over illegal fishing
S 2009 Death on the Ice Robert Ryan Fictionalized account of Scott's expedition to South Pole
S 2009 Wanting Richard Flanagan Historical novel about Sir John and Lady Jane Franklin, and Charles Dickens
S 2009 The Ice Lovers Jean McNeil In a near future world of lethal flu viruses, a journalist & the great-grandson of a Shackleton expeditionist search for a young female biologist who disappeared in the Antarctic peninsula. Author had a BAS/Arts Fellowship to Antarctica
S 2009 The Nature of Ice Robin Mundy AUS, alternates story of modern photographer in Antarctica with that of Hurley on Mawson's expedition; author has worked and wintered over in Antarctica.
S 2010 Big Bang Symphony: A Novel of Antarctica Lucy Jane Bledsoe 3 quirky women (a composer, a geologist, and an Antarctic 'regular') spend a summer season in Antarctica. Author has had several NSF Antarctic Artists and Writers awards
N 2010 On the Proper Use of Stars Dominique Fortier French Canadian (trans.); about John Franklin's second in command Francis Crozier, his wife Lady Jane Franklin, and her niece Sophia.
N 2010 The Still Point: A Novel Amy Sackville split story of a fictional 19th c lost Arctic explorer & his great-great niece a century later
S 2010 The Journey of Anders Sparrman Per Wastberg Swedish, fictional account of Swedish naturalist Anders Sparrman, who sailed with Capt Cook on his 2nd voyage to Antarctica
S 2011 The Lightkeepers Wife Karen Viggers AUS, author has worked in Antarctica
S 2011 Pym Mat Johnson American literature Professor leads group of African-American sailors in search of Edgar Allen Poe's Antarctic monsters. Satirizes academia, tenure, Whiteness, Blackness, Poe, capitalist greed, obsessions, & bad art.
S 2012 Dead Men Richard Pierce Woman sets out to discover what happened to Scott's team in Antarctica
N 2012 The Icy Barber Glennis Leith In 1845, newlywed lost her husband on an Arctic whaling ship, but maybe he's been found
S 2012 Where'd You Go, Bernadette Maria Semple Comic novel, film version in 2019
N 2012 Inukshuk Gregory Spatz In northern Canada, a depressed teenage boy fantasizes about Franklin's Lost Expedition
N 2013 The Collector of Lost Things Jeremy Page naturalist on ship to Arctic in 1849
N 2013 The Ice-Cold Heaven Mirko Bonne novelization of Shackleton's expedition told by the 17 yr old stowaway Blackboro
S 2013 The Beckoning Ice Joan Druett Historical mystery thriller; corpse on drifting iceberg
S 2013 Chasing the Lights Jesse Blackaddere AUS; fictional account of the first woman in Antarctica, 1930s.
S 2014 Everland Rebecca Hunt Centenary expedition to Antarctic Island
S 2014 Shackleton Antarctic Odyssey Nick Bertozzi Graphic novel story of Shackleton
N 2015 The Sunlit Night Rebecca Dinerstein Two New Yorkers meet in Norwegian Arctic
S 2015 When the Night Comes Favel Parrett Australian; A young girl in Hobart meets a sailor who works on a research ship to Antarctica. Author received Antarctic arts fellowship
N 2015 The Surfacing Cormac James Ship hunting for Franklin's recently lost expedition gets trapped in the ice
N 2015 First Man: Reimagining Matthew Henson Simon Schwartz Graphic novel fictional biography of Henson; orig. pub. in German in 2012
N 2016 Voyage of the Dolphin Kevin Smith In 1916, three Irish college students sail to the Arctic
S 2016 Ice Letters Susan Errington In WWI, unsent letters between Australian woman and her boyfriend in Antarctica
N 2016 The Lamentations of Zeno Ilija Trojanow Trans. from German (2011). Glaciologist on Antarctic cruise ship tries to warn the world about global warming
N 2016 The North Water Ian McGuire Murder and tension on a 19th century whaling ship
S 2016 Up to this Pointe Jennifer Longo 17 year old distant descendant of RF Scott goes to Antarctica for 6 months
N 2016 The Quality of Silence Rosamund Lupton Astrophysicist and her daughter in Alaskan wilderness searching for missing husband
S 2016 My Last Continent Midge Raymond Penguin researchers on a tourist ship in Antarctica
S 2016 The Comet Seakers Helen Sedgwick Astronomer meets chef at Antarctic base and finds they are connected through time
N 2017 Under a Pole Star Stef Penney Young woman leads British Polar expedition to Greenland in 1892
N 2017 South Pole Station- A Novel Ashley Shelby
N 2017 Minds of Winter Ed O'Loughlin Chronometer from John Franklin's Arctic expedition turns up in 2009 London. Amundsen and other historical Arctic figures too
N 2017 Crystal Vision Alan M Young Fictional version of Franklin expedition.
N 2018 The Restless Sea Vanessa de Haan In 1939, seaman in Merchant Navy in Russian Arctic.
N 2018 Split Tooth Tanya Tagaq Coming of Age in the Arctic
S 2018 Brother in Ice Alicia Kopf trans from Spanish & Catalan
N 2018 The Great Alone Kristin Hannah teenage girl and abusive parents settle in Alaska
N 2018 Lady Franklin of Russell Square Erika Elce Behrisch Franklin expedition from perspective of Lady Franklin
N/S 2018 Lava Falls Lucy Jane Bledsoe Stories, including in Alaska and Antarctica
S 2018 The Greatest Adventure Page Justin Novel about Shackleton's Trans-Antarctic expedition
S 2019 The Ice Ship Peter T Scott Set in Antarctica in 1840s.
S 2019 The Ice Shelf Anne Kennedy NZ writer prepares to leave for an Antarctic artist fellowship
N 2019 Starvation Shore Laura Waterman novel about the Greeley expedition
N 2019 Neptune's Forge George Wier Fictional 1888 steamer trip to Antarctica and then trek to South Pole
N 2020 Northernmost Peter Geye Great-great grandaughter of Arctic explorer visits northern Norwegian town of her ancestors
N 2020 The Snow Collectors Tina May Hall Woman discovers a body which leads to a mystery about Lady Jane Franklin