British author Adams (Watership Down, etc.) and New Zealand ornithologist Lockley, together with photographer Hirst-Smith,...



British author Adams (Watership Down, etc.) and New Zealand ornithologist Lockley, together with photographer Hirst-Smith, voyaged through the Antarctic, from Cape Horn to New Zealand, aboard the Lindblad Explorer--where, eating steak at dinner, one might be within a stone's throw of ""a huge solitude of floating ice."" (Still: ""I'm sure Captain Cook wouldn't have disapproved."") In Adams' ginger-and-molasses narrative (Lockley supplies natural-history interpolations), we have a disarming picture of elderly enthusiasts (average age 60.78), outlandishly togged-out, clambering over rocks to a penguin rookery; strolling among fur seals lazing on a beach; or gathered in awe about the nest of a majestic, unruffled royal albatross. The fabled plenitude of Antarctic wildlife is everywhere in evidence (at sea, no less than ashore); and so, somewhat ominously, is the animals' unconcern about people. At one of the trip's peak moments, the Lindblad Explorer passes unnoted through a herd of perhaps 40 finback whales: ""you could have thrown a cricket ball onto [their] backs."" (Then, a Japanese whaling-ship is sighted.) On another memorable occasion, the travelers visit Scott's two restored huts--and, at the smaller one, Adams is reminded of Beatrix Potter: ""the little dark windows, the untidiness, the earth floor and the feeling of being in a den."" Elsewhere, he is moved to tears--and to reflect on Nature's callousness--by sight of an orphaned penguin chick, ""waiting to die, with the life of the rookery going on all around him, and other chicks full of krill."" Adams' strongest words are reserved, of course, for the animal-slaughterers. But what bears home all his messages are the magnificent photographs, in black-and-white and in color, that keep step with the text. And those impelled to check on Antarctica's prospects can now see, fortuitously, Philip Quigg's A Pole Apart (below).

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 1982


Page Count: -

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1982