This is London Calling – Shackleton’s Man Goes South

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This is London calling, on Resonance 104.4fm.

I’m Tony White and my novel Shackleton’s Man Goes South, which is published by the Science Museum, was inspired by a forgotten science fiction story about climate change that was written in Antarctica in 1911 by Captain Scott’s meteorologist George Clarke Simpson. He wrote it for the South Polar Times, a shipboard scrapbook journal founded by Sir Ernest Shackleton. A kind of one-off zine, that was passed from reader to reader.

Sir George C. Simpson. Photo: K.E. Woodley, courtesy the Met Office.

Sir George C. Simpson.
Photo: K.E. Woodley, courtesy the Met Office.

Shackleton’s Man Goes South flips the polarity of the Shackleton myth: and sees people fleeing to Antarctica instead of from it, in a hot world instead of a cold one. The novel explores the implications of Simpson’s science fiction short story of 1911, both through this satirical reversal — which sees migrants known as ‘mangoes’ (a corruption of the saying ‘man go south’) fleeing to the safety of Antarctica — and through a series of interviews with contemporary climate scientists at the Met Office Hadley Centre, the Open University and the British Antarctic Survey.

Shackleton’s Man Goes South, cover jpegThese two worlds, the fictional and the non-fictional, eventually collide in my novel, to create a proposition for a new way to imagine climate change.

Shackleton’s Man Goes South is the first novel the Science Museum has ever published, and publication is accompanied by an exhibition in the Museum’s atmosphere gallery that runs until April 2015, charting the scientific and literary inspirations behind my book.

Importantly, publication of my novel continues the sharing ethos of Shackleton’s South Polar Times. The novel is free. You can download it as a free ebook in formats compatible with most devices, from the Science Museum’s website. Simply google “shackleton’s man goes south”. Or you can email it to yourself via a specially developed touchscreen ebook dispenser that is part of my display in the Atmosphere Gallery.

The reading you are about to hear finds a group of migrants en route to Antarctica. Emily and her daughter Jenny, and the sailor Browning, are in Patience Camp, a vast refugee camp on the island of South Georgia. The audio was produced by composer Jamie Telford and sound engineer Andrew Phillis, and it opens with the specially commissioned theme, ‘Going South’, a kind of seasick sea shanty composed by Jamie Telford.

Thank you.


Text to introduce a reading from Shackleton’s Man Goes South as a half-hour show broadcast 3:00pm on Wednesday 11 June in the Science Museum’s Virgin Media Space, over a huge vintage loudspeaker called the Denman Horn, and simultaneously broadcast on Resonance 104.4fm.

Listen to audiobook extracts of Shackleton’s Man Goes South on Tony White’s Soundcloud page.

You can no longer download Shackleton’s Man Goes South free and DRM-free from the Science Museum website, but the PDF is available here.

Press about Shackleton’s Man Goes South