Ice Station

Matthew Reilly, Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-312-20551-5
After a team of American scientists at Wilkes Ice Station discover what seems to be a spaceship in a four-million-year-old cavern below the ice, two of the divers disappear while checking out the craft. Lt. Shane ""Scarecrow"" Schofield and his highly trained team of Marines respond to the scientists' distress signal. By the time the leathernecks reach Wilkes, three days later, one of the scientists has killed another, six more members of the Wilkes team have disappeared in the ice cave and eight French scientists from a nearby station are for some reason at the U.S. base. Would the French government kill Americans to capture a frozen UFO? Probably: six of the French ""scientists"" turn out to be the members of the French special forces. From that discovery onward, this first novel offers nonstop thrills as Schofield and his team fight for their lives--and for those of the remaining American scientists--against French and British commandos and a secret American spy group; against killer whales and strange aquatic mammals; and against time, for both the French and British commandos harbor ""eraser"" plans to wipe out all survivors in case of mission failure. Reilly's debut evokes a host of predecessors, including Jaws, The Andromeda Strain, The X-Files and the combat novels of Tom Clancy. It also echoes the work of Ian Fleming, as the outrageously heroic Schofield comes off as less a real Marine than a fantasy action figure on a par with Bond. There's not much that's original here--even the set-up is reminiscent of the classic SF film The Thing, about a saucer buried in Arctic ice--but Reilly doesn't really need to be original, not at the pace at which he whips his story line past readers. Employing crude but effective prose, a nonstop spray of short, punchy paragraphs and cliffhangers galore, this is grade-A action pulp. (Sept.) FYI: Ice Station was previously published by Pan Macmillan in Reilly's native Australia, where it sold 30,000 copies.
Reviewed on: 08/30/1999
Release date: 09/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
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