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Fade to Black

Josh Pryor

Publication Year: 2011

When disgraced evolutionary biologist Dr. Claire Matthews is asked to accompany a group of leading scientists on a fact-finding expedition to Antarctica to investigate a tragic accident, she is naturally suspicious. Her checkered past and ongoing professional exile are more than enough to convince her that any offer made by the charismatic and scheming Dr. Ethan Hatcher merits serious skepticism. Despite her doubts, Claire cannot turn her back on close friend and colleague, Alan Whitehurst. Killed under mysterious circumstances weeks earlier with the members of the first expedition, Alan deserves better than an anonymous death in Earth's harshest and most unforgiving environment. While the expedition promises Claire an unwelcome reunion with an array of personal demons, it also presents her with a golden opportunity to resurrect a once-promising career. Proving the existence of S. iroquoisii, an ancient microscopic organism critical in the evolution of primitive man, would mean the culmination of her life's work, and a triumphant return for one of the scientific community's brightest prodigies. To earn her keep, Claire must determine the role S. iroquoisii played in the catastrophic accident that decimated the previous expedition, before her crew falls prey to a similar fate. Employing the latest in forensic investigation, Claire and a joint team of military and civilian personnel undertake the gruesome task of piecing together the events that led to the massive explosion that destroyed the previous research station. As a nightmare of unimaginable proportions begins to coalesce, Claire is drawn ever deeper into a maze of deception and savage violence. Pitted against a primordial foe they can scarcely fathom, Claire and her colleagues must battle the cold, each other, and the growing madness within themselves to survive the infinite polar night.

Published by: Red Hen Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Frontispiece

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1. Ross Sea: Antarctica

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pp. 1-11

Surfacing less than a kilometer from the disintegrating edge of the Ross Ice Shelf was insane in the best of conditions. Today, in conditions such as these when the wind howled across the gray-green sea like a pack of frothing wolves and the seasonal landmass was sheering apart beneath the onslaught of nearly four months of perpetual daylight, it was fucking suicide. ...

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2. Antarctica: Approximately 150 Miles from the South Pole

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pp. 12-34

It was absolutely surreal, a nightmare, like one of the PCP-induced bad trips he’d been warned about as a kid growing up in the drug-addled afterglow of the disco era. This can’t be happening, he thought, no fucking way. I, Alan Whitehurst, a lifelong science geek who didn’t get laid until my second year in college ...

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3. Marina Del Rey, California

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pp. 35-41

Ethan had spoken with Alan via satellite phone a few short hours after the team had discovered the hydrothermal vent community at the bottom of the lake. It was a weak signal, and the two men scarcely had time to congratulate one another before atmospheric interference had crippled the transmission. ...

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4. Los Angeles, California

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pp. 42-65

By the time Claire Matthews had finished writing her doctoral dissertation she was regarded by many of her colleagues to be one of the world’s most promising young contributors to the emerging field of cryptozoology. For this, she had an unusual potbellied herbivore to thank. Although no bigger than a common goat, the Ha Tinh pygmy rhinoceros, ...

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5. Christchurch, New Zealand

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pp. 66-70

It was after midnight when Claire, Ethan, and the other members of the team touched down at Christchurch International Airport, the black sky scuffed with ragged moon-illumined clouds. The further they dipped into the southern hemisphere, the scarcer daylight would become. Claire likened the gradual onset of perpetual night ...

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6. McMurdo Station, Antarctica

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pp. 71-75

Located sixteen kilometers from Williams Field—a seasonal airstrip carved into the frozen backbone of the Ross Ice Shelf—McMurdo Station was an outpost in the strictest sense of the word. Isolated well beyond the fringe of civilization in a region whose rumored existence was the stuff of globetrotting heretics until only recently, ...

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7. Williams Field, Antarctica

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pp. 76-77

During the long, lopsided night all of their gear had been transferred from the C–130 to a smaller aircraft better suited for landings on the brittle snow pack they would encounter further south. Part helicopter, part airplane, the peculiar vehicle looked like something conjured from the pages of Leonardo DaVinci’s famous sketchbooks. ...

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8. Antarctica: Approximately 150 Miles from the South Pole

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pp. 78-234

From Williams Field it took nearly four hours to reach their final destination, a vast basin flanked on one side by a range of white saw-toothed mountains, and on the other by a blinding desert of snow stretching to the horizon. The basin was a sort of natural reservoir—a mile long and half again as wide ...

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About the Author

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An avid outdoorsman and naturalist, Dr. Josh Pryor divides his time between Southern California, where he lives and teaches English at Saddleback College, and anywhere that has yet to be “civilized.” A kinder, less psychotic version of Joseph Conrad’s Kurtz, he is more at home in a bug-infested swamp, jungle, or forest than in the lavish comforts of the big city. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9781597091787
E-ISBN-10: 1597091782
Print-ISBN-13: 9781597091251
Print-ISBN-10: 1597091251

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: First

OCLC Number: 835770666
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Fade to Black

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