Beyond The Ice Limit by Preston & Child
In this Gideon Crew adventure, the dying US scientist is tasked with visiting the edges of the Antarctica to kill an alien life-form rooted on the sea bed. It’s a sequel to their previous offering, Ice Limit, where a giant meteorite was snatched from a Chilean island and then accidentally dropped onto the sea bed of the south Atlantic (hate when that happens).
In this continuation, the meteorite turns out to be a seed pod for an alien life-form that has taken root and sprouted into a giant tree-like structure with unknown intent. Gideon’s boss at EES, Eli Glinn, has determined that the foreign entity must be destroyed at all costs before it spreads across the planet, and so kits out an expedition to the site to take care of business.
There are computer experts, diving experts, farting experts, science experts, sex experts, drinking experts, you get the picture yet? These novels make the logistics of such an operation seem trivial and easy yet the truth is very different. The love interest in this one comes in the shapely form of Alex Lispenard, an expert in DSVs, or Deep Sea Vehicles. She’s feisty and beautiful and liberated and brave and Gideon can’t help himself; he’s only human after all. Gideon, by the way, is dying because of an apparently inoperable brain disease, so cares little about his life; who better to go after a possibly hostile alien creature.
An initial exploration of the alien site reveals that the problem is worse than was first thought. The creature is so embedded into the sea floor that it’s almost impossible to remove. Luckily for the expedition, they have brought a small nuke to deal with the issue. Of course it was bought in the former Soviet Union as all black market nukes are these days. Rebel Voice wonders why more groups don’t have them seeing as they appear to be easy to come by. We might get one ourselves to deal with the critics. Honestly, when authors go down the route of having nukes lying around the former Soviet Republics only to be snatched up by whoever has the money, they might as well throw the towel in and declare their laziness to the world.
But if the humans thought it would be straightforward in terms of alien warfare, then they were wrong. After all, this is a strange species they’re dealing with and it has managed to travel through interstellar space to reach Earth. The alien intelligence has ideas of its own. It’s at this point that the story begins to resemble a cross between the movies The Thing and Alien. Worm-like creatures emerge onto the ship and attack the crew. They get into a person’s brain during sleep and then control the victim. There is little way to tell who is infected short of a CT scan. Unfortunately, the aliens (which are in sub-sonic contact with the mother beast) have foreseen this problem and destroy the scanners. The crew have to figure out who is infected and who is not and who is just merely stupid. It turns out that a lot of the crew are the latter which begs the question, what were they doing on such an important expedition in the first place?
Beyond The Ice Limit is fairly formulaic nonsense. Sadly, such tripe is commonplace because it’s entertaining. The plot in this one is stretched thin in places and wobbly throughout. Gideon Crew is not trained in the use of submersibles but is tasked with taking the lead in the adventure. Why? No adequate explanation is given. How did the worms come to be there? What process do they use to replicate? Why do people not sleep in shifts with guards to ensure they get some shuteye and remain alert and safe? Plot turkey after plot turkey squawks throughout.
The settings for this story are good. It’s hard not to be impressed by stories set in so bleak a landscape as the seas of Antarctica. The characters are engaging if unbelievable and the pace is fast. It’s one of those irritating books that once you start it, you keep on going even though you know it’s crap and eventually you end up hating yourself for it and require counselling. Rebel Voice had intended to write a benign review of this story. But once the typing began, it was discovered that a subconscious annoyance rose to the surface to take over. It may be that Rebel Voice has been taken over by an alien parasite determined to ruin Preston & Child. Or, perhaps, Beyond The Ice limit is just pretty dreadful.
As the alien worms practically take over the expedition vessel, Gideon, Glinn and Garza (another continuing character in this series) rush to take drastic action without knowing if it’ll be enough. Guess if it is? The only bright point in this novel is when Alex Lispenard dies in a gruesome manner. She had to meet her demise to allow Gideon to become romantically involved with anther intelligent beauty in the next instalment.
It transpires that the one alien is really two. The humans realise that the visible alien is the parasite that has taken over the brain of yet another alien which in turns sends messages of distress, when able, to the people warning them. The nasty alien takes brains, including human ones, and uses them for its own purposes. Each new alien ‘tree’ requires a brain to run it. There is no explanation as to why whale brains are unsuitable. Rebel Voice would feel that whale brains are much more intelligent than many human ones, like Trump, who recently tweeted his delight at meeting the ‘Prince of Whales’ upon a visit to England.
Poor Alex is now the CPU for a budding alien tree. Gideon is still feeling horny and wonders if he could ride the tree (or something like that). He should get a job in porn, the durty hure. The working theory is that when there are enough alien trees circling the globe, they would expand to such an extent that the planet would crack and disintegrate thereby throwing the alien seed pods into space where they continue their colonisation. Jaysus, but even writing that is enough to cause great disillusion. It is as bad as it sounds.
Sult scale rating: 4 out of 10. Production line drivel that might thrill and appal in equal measure. We want adventure in our books, and this is one. But it’s ultimately a poorly thought out story that relies on previous endeavours by others to provide it with any appeal. If you want a great story with an alien parasite and the Antarctica, then watch the movie The Thing. That should keep you happy until the real ones arrive. Then we’re all f**ked.
If you like aliens,then have a scally at this:
Top 10 Scariest Movie Aliens – Part 2
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