The Terror

Posted by Censor Librorum on Mar 14, 2007 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

I’m reading a terrific book by Dan Simmons, The Terror. It is a fictionalized story of the disastrous 1845 Franklin expedition to search for the legendary Northwest Passage. The ships ended up stranded in the pack ice in the Arctic Circle. They never returned. Some of the bones were found and showed signs of cannibalism, but most of the marines, sailors and officers disappeared without a trace.

The book follows Captain Francis Crozier, an Irishman who takes command after the expedition’s leader, Sir John Franklin, meets a terrible death. He leads the surviving crewmen in a desperate attempt to flee south across the ice. They are running from starvation, but even more from a terrifying monster that is stalking and savagely killing them.

The story evokes feelings and memories of some of my own experiences in the Alaskan wilderness. The time my feet froze when I was out in 40 below 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle. And yes, I have had experiences with the supernatural. To this day, I won’t go in the deep woods or out on the sea without carrying amulets and other protection from malevolent spirits.

Of course, I couldn’t stand the suspense and needed to find out what was the terror. It was a Tuunbaq. The Tuunbaq was a tupilek, a spirit-animated killer created by Sedna, the Spirit of the Sea. I won’t spoil the story by relating the ending, but I can tell you from a few near-misses of my own–and knowing a little of the beliefs of the native people–it may not be entirely fiction.

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