REVIEW: The Book of Ice

The Book of Ice

Written by Paul D. Miller

$29.95 / 128 Pages / Full Color

Mark Batty Publisher

People complain about marketing, advertisements, and all that jazz, but sometimes they really pay off. There I was, simple podcaster trying to put together show on Antarctica and an e-mail pops up in my inbox proclaiming the publication of The Book of Ice by Paul Miller. So I replied. “Hey, I was just thinking about that continent…” and thus I wound up with a copy of the book.

I wasn’t sure what to think at first. A book about Antarctica by a DJ? I’ll admit I was nervous. I put myself out there for review copies occasionally, however I try to really find things that focus on the science (or at the very least the sort of) and I feared I had gotten in over my head with this one. So for a bit I just let the book gestate in my brain. But my casual flipping through the pages wouldn’t suffice. The imagery, even at a glance, was powerful enough to want context, and so I began reading it.

This book was a multimedia experience like few I’ve had, and I read comics so the idea of words, pictures and even sound (in the form of silent sound effects) are familiar territory, but here was something different. With a combination of words, graphic design, and QR codes pointing to sounds, this book immersed the reader like a glacier advancing across the plains captures rocks. The book flows page after page, while still managing to stun with imagery likely never to be seen by the reader in the flesh. Suffice it to say, I was impressed.

I’d listened to DJ Spooky’s music before diving into the book (even used it on the show), and I thought the book might be mere companion piece, but I was more than pleasantly surprised. When I first saw a reprinted interview I thought, “that’s a bit self-indulgent” and then when I read it I couldn’t help but think “WOW! This guy is smart in subjects which I am completely ignorant.” And as a reader that is a feeling I’ve come to cherish. As I write I realize it probably seems like I came into reading this with every intention to hate the book, and I assure you that isn’t the case, it’s rather the abject surprise I felt at just how much I enjoyed it!

Miller uses the language of science to talk both about a place and culture few will ever experience, let alone in tandem, which creates a unique experience for the person holding the book. And I think that was probably the author’s intent, to wow you with novelty. And here’s the kicker, having gained a bit more knowledge about the southern continent I am now more intrigued and beguiled than ever by its inherent mystery. I want desperately to head down south for the pursuit of science, but to a degree it was the artistry of the place as presented in both book and song, that has added that much more passion to my desire.

4 Brachiolopes

(Out of 5)

Check out The Book of Ice on Amazon

And go hear some of DJ Spooky’s music on his homepage.

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