http://www.prlog.org/12384059.html">Greenland thriller revisits Arctic Cold War
Greenland thriller revisits Arctic Cold War
16th October 2014
An author who led a scientific expedition to the fjord landscape of East Greenland in 1962 has recreated in a fictional context the tensions that existed at the time between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.
In 1962 author Brian John was joint leader of a university research expedition to East Greenland which was the last one to be truly unsupported, with no helicopter backup and no radio contact with the outside world. He still thinks that the eight members of the field party were lucky to survive, given the many hazardous situations in which they found themselves.
During eight weeks in the field, in the wilderness of the fjord country, the explorers saw many things which forced them to wonder what else was going on around them, only just out of sight.
East Greenland in 1962 was not very far from the "hot spots" of world politics. Keflavik Air Base in Iceland was fully operational, manned by the United States air force under an agreement with the Icelandic Government. Soviet "sealers" were often reported in the North Atlantic, and it was common knowledge that they had nothing much to do with sealing. There were NATO bases in West Greenland and on the ice sheet.
Brian says: "From my own memories and records I have fashioned a thriller which presents a perfectly feasible sequence of events. In the story, the members of a scientific expedition become the unwitting guinea pigs in a series of grotesque experiments in an arctic wilderness. As the death toll mounts, they uncover a huge conspiracy and realise that an implacable enemy with limitless resources will not allow any of them to survive.
"But this is distinctly spooky. When I was digging around for information which I needed to give the novel authenticity, I suddenly came across a declassified US document called "Technical Report EP-140. Environment of Southeast Greenland" and published originally by the Quartermaster Research and Engineering Center, Environmental Protection Research Division" in October 1961. It had an unclassified Catalog number AD 251 797. It was incredibly detailed. Although many pages were virtually illegible in the digitised version, there was enough detail visible to show that the East Greenland coast, adjacent to Denmark Strait, was being taken very seriously by the US military, and that they wanted to know EVERYTHING about it, including weather and climate, tides, sea ice conditions, landing beaches, anchorages, routes onto the ice sheet, vegetation, and marine life. This was real military planning.......
"Every now and then we saw a heard heavy military aircraft high overhead, heading north. And there was a lot of mineral exploration going on too. It was obvious that the Danish Government was working hard to discover what mineral riches there might be around the coasts of Greenland. Systematic geological mapping and prospecting work was going on, involving both government geologists and teams paid for by mining companies. They left traces all over the fjord country -- camp sites, food caches, and huts used by the mineral prospectors and support parties. They even left explosives behind.
"All grist to the mill as far as a novelist is concerned. So I had both wonderful personal experiences and rich background material to call on as the story evolved inside my head. Soon readers will have their chance to find out what the title of the book actually means........ and why the launch date is November 5th."
"Acts of God" by Brian John is published by Greencroft Books on 5th November, and on that date it will be available also in an Ebook version via the Amazon web site.
Further information here:
Greenland thriller revisits Arctic Cold War
First published Wednesday 29 October 2014 in What's on
by Sue Lewis
Ski plane used for servicing the Malmbjerg mining community in 1962
Pembrokeshire adventurer's Cold War expedition inspires new book
Wales on Sunday, 16th November 2014
By Emma Sisk
Brian John, 74, was one of eight students from Jesus College Oxford to venture to Greenland for scientific research more than 50 years ago.
He led a daring scientific expedition to a remote fjord landscape with no backup.
And now, more than 50 years on, a Welsh author has used his memories of that trip to East Greenland in 1962 as the basis for a thriller novel recreating some of the key tensions in the world at the time.
Brian John, 74, who lives in Newport, Pembrokeshire, was one of eight students at Oxford University to venture to East Greenland more than 50 years ago.
The then 22-year-old said: “We wanted an adventure, something exciting. East Greenland was not terribly well-known at the time. It was a really remote wilderness.
“We took a boat to Iceland and a chartered flight from Iceland to East Greenland. Then we walked from the airstrip to the area where we wanted to do our work in.”
The trip was the last such journey to be totally unsupported. There was no helicopter backup and no radio contact with the outside world.
He said: “I still think the eight members of our field party were lucky to survive given the many hazardous situations in which we found ourselves.
“Not a lot was known about East Greenland at the time. It was a glaciated area but nobody knew how big the glaciers were or how far they extended. Nobody knew how far the ice had indented or how much land it had covered.”
The group were particularly interested in examining how much the land surface had changed as a result of the weight of the ice.
Brian, who lectured in geomorphology at Durham University before retirement, said: “We had just finished our first degrees and were hoping to stay on at university to do research. We finished our finals and left for East Greenland.
“It was a bit of a shock to the system after having our heads in the books for weeks beforehand.”
In the wilderness of the fjord country the explorers survived in freezing cold temperatures and took treacherous chances.
“We used to go kayaking to get close to the icebergs in these very flimsy kayaks. We had to create the frames and put the covers over them.
“We’d go kayaking around these ice-infested waters where there were big icebergs and brash ice with no life jackets. If any of us had fallen in or if the kayak had capsized we would have died.”
Brian said the survival time in the water was between two and three minutes because it was so cold.
He said: “We didn’t think that much about it at the time. We just knew if we did go in we wouldn’t survive. If a big wave had come along we wouldn’t have had a hope in hell.”
The group stayed for eight weeks in East Greenland which, in 1962, was not very far from the “hot spots” of world politics.
Brian said: “The Cold War was really at its height. It was the same year as the Cuban missile crisis which nearly brought the world to a nuclear war.
“Keflavik Air Base in Iceland was fully operational, manned by the United States Air Force under an agreement with the Icelandic Government.
“Soviet ‘sealers’ were often reported in the North Atlantic and it was common knowledge that they had nothing much to do with sealing. There were Nato bases in West Greenland and on the ice sheet.
“Every now and then we saw and heard heavy military aircraft high overhead, heading north, but at the time we didn’t know why.”
From this expedition experiences he has written a thriller, Acts of God, recreating in a fictional context the tensions that existed at the time between Nato and the Warsaw Pact and the covert operations they were involved in.
He said: “From my own memories and records I have fashioned a thriller which presents a perfectly feasible sequence of events.”
In the story the members of a scientific expedition become the unwitting guinea pigs in a series of grotesque experiments in an arctic wilderness.
As the death toll mounts they uncover a huge conspiracy and realise that an implacable enemy with limitless resources will not allow any of them to survive.
Brian said: “When I was digging around for information which I needed to give the novel authenticity I suddenly came across a declassified US document which was incredibly detailed.
“Although many pages were virtually illegible in the digitised version there was enough detail visible to show that the East Greenland coast was being taken very seriously by the US military and that they wanted to know everything about it including weather and climate, tides, sea ice conditions, landing beaches, anchorages, routes onto the ice sheet, vegetation, and marine life.”
Brian said it was obvious the Danish government was working hard to discover what mineral riches there might be around the coasts of Greenland.
He said: “They left traces all over the fjord country – campsites, food caches, and huts used by the mineral prospectors and support parties. They even left explosives behind.”
Arctic Noir -- you saw it here first!
The author of a new novel set in Greenland has had problems in allocating it to any particular genre -- until all became clear.
PRLog - Nov. 19, 2014 - CENTRAL LONDON, U.K. --
When author Brian John was contemplating his options concerning his new novel entitled "Acts of God", he had no problems regarding the content of the story, but major difficulty in deciding where and how to promote it. The story is a dark one set in an Arctic wilderness, but is it a thriller, a mystery or conspiracy story, or an action adventure, or a crime novel? Or even a piece of literary fiction, given its unusual structure? It could - at a push - be any one of those, or even a "chiller thriller" if there had been such a category. There are hardly any previous novels set in Greenland, so guidance was and is hard to come by.
Then inspiration came to him. The story is the first in a new literary category -- Arctic Noir. That has a nice ring to it, since most people associate the Arctic with snow, ice and whiteness. The idea of blackness up there is a slightly bizarre one, although it should be remembered that for two thirds of the year there is very little daylight in the High Arctic, and around midwinter there are several months of continuous darkness.
In this novel, there are no disfunctional and troubled detectives and no deranged murderers who leave a trail of blood and gore behind them as they lead the forces of law and order a convoluted dance through the miserable winter landscapes of the Copenhagen suburbs. But there are some rather nasty villains, and there is a major international conspiracy in which various groups of innocent people get caught up. And yes, there is brutality, and many people die..........
But what distinguishes Arctic Noir from Scandinavian Noir is the landscape. The action takes place almost entirely in the Arctic wilderness of snow, ice, tundra, glaciers and mountains. And the animals that appear in the story are not dogs and cats, but wolves and polar bears!
Brian's novel "Acts of God" is now published by Greencroft Books, and can be obtained from the publisher or from Amazon in both Kindle and paperback editions.