Orion is Upside Down
To the Antarctic in search of Shackleton
About The Author
Amy Kernahan was born and brought up on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, but is now an ‘economic migrant’ to the South East of England, where she works as an assembly, integration and test engineer for a company building small satellites in Guildford, Surrey. A fascination with technology led her to choose a career path that she believed would bring her to its cutting edge, gaining along the way a Masters in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Glasgow and studying for a time at the prestigious Ecole Nationale Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace in Toulouse. (She maintains that the reality is somewhat different and that whoever said the space industry is glamorous has never worked in it!) But her first love has always been the sea. Orion is Upside Down is her first book and is a sea story with almost as much ice as there is brine about it. Amy recounts the events and adventures of a journey to Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic Islands, drawing parallels and contrasts between the places she visits and the island she reluctantly calls home. Amy is a typical travel writer in that she insists that she is not a travel writer!
About The Book
This sea story from the bottom of the earth takes the reader on a philosophical voyage through many realms, religious and secular, mathematical and poetic, natural and mechanical. Something akin to a Scottish Bill Bryson, Amy Kernahan, who was born and grew up on the Isle of Lewis, the largest of the chain of islands off the northwest coast of Scotland, sets out with her travelling companion, her father, to journey in the Antarctic and follow her dreams of seeing, and even standing in, the places where Sir Ernest Shackleton had been.
Casting Shackleton in the role of Virgil to her Dante, she follows his trail through the ice fields around the Antarctic Peninsula, a vision here on earth as hellish as the frozen Lake Cocytus at the centre of Dante’s Inferno. Along the way, the might of the sea, and the glories of the Antarctic set Amy pondering themes of Judeo-Christianity, seeing Antarctica as a remnant of Eden, unpopulated by both mankind and sin. The mathematics of nature reveals itself to her, and she is awed by the prophetic soul of Coleridge and his Ancient Mariner.
Amy has set out on her journey believing it to be a pilgrimage to Shackleton’s grave, but as she sojourns beneath striking southern skies where even the familiar is alien, she realises that she is on another more spiritual pilgrimage, called by the ancient Christians of her homeland peregrinatio, the search for what they called ‘the place of one’s resurrection’ or true home. The outcome, although perhaps not surprising, is not quite as clear cut as it might have been.