Saturday, November 15, 2014

Arrrgggh, stupid mistakes in good books

I'm currently reading a book called 'The Terror'.  It's about the Sir Captain John Franklin's attempt to find, and navigate through, the northwest passage in 1845-1847.  The expedition not-so-mysteriously disappeared, due to a wide variety of horrible things that happened to sailors and explorers back then.  They just found one of the ships back in September.  The author has fictionalized the entire thing, taking a great deal of the known facts, adding in a demonic polar bear from Inuit legends, and turning it into a cracking good read (and, is being turned into a series for AMC).

Horrible things happen, and keep on happening, as these two ships full of British sailors try to survive with dwindling supplies, horrific conditions, and a monster that is much more than they can cope with.  It's been fantastic, except for this last little bit.

Spoiler alert, if anybody plans on reading this book, don't read any further.

Okay, the supplies are nearly gone, the coal for heat is nearly gone, and the ships are so banged up, even if the ice wasn't likely to last through the summer, they wouldn't float anyways.  The new commander of the expedition (after Sir Captain John asshole get's his head crunched off like a cheeto) is discussing with the remaining officers and experts about their best course of action.  They measure the pros and cons of staying where they are and dying, or trying to walk 1000 miles to the nearest civilization so they can die during the attempt.  The meeting breaks up, and a steward walks up the captain, and tells him something he read from the multiple-volume journal of James Ross, a much-vaunted arctic explorer that came through the same general area this expedition currently was in.  This steward tells the captain that, just a few short years ago, James Ross left several small camps with food and boats all around the area, and that one was just 25 miles away.  He went on to tell the captain that James Ross' journal included elaborate details on arctic survival including how to make igloos, hunting and fishing on the ice, and how best to become friends with the local native tribes.  The captain politely thanked the steward for telling him all this (being righteously pissed off because an underling was giving him unsolicited advice on life or death matters) and dismissed him.  Then he pulled the volumes down off the shelf and read them.

That is what made me mad.  The captain not only did, apparently, read any of the previous explorers journal BEFORE he went on this trip, during the two years these two ships full of 50+ officers (who all had to be able to read) and 100+ sailors (who were, granted, unlikely to be able to read) were stuck on the ice with LITERALLY nothing to do BUT read, nobody, but NOBODY, thought to read his James Ross asshole's fricking multi-volume journal (which were in the 100+ books the ships libraries), until this steward got bored enough to think 'Hey, the journal of the last white asshole to make it to this part of the world.  Maybe he knows something about this area.'

That is what really has me cheesed off.

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