Monday, July 6, 2015

Tom Harper's "Zodiac Station"

Tom Harper has written a dozen thrillers, including The Orpheus Descent, Lost Temple, and Secrets of the Dead. He grew up in Germany, Belgium, and America, and studied history at Oxford University. His first novel was a runner-up for the CWA Debut Dagger Award.

Here Harper dreamcasts an adaptation of his latest novel, Zodiac Station:
Strangely enough, I rarely have a clear idea of what my protagonists look like. If I’m writing in the first person, I see the world through their eyes but I never see their face. I noticed, when I started my career, that most first-person books have the hero check themselves in a mirror or a shop window early in chapter one, so the author can shoehorn in a description. I decided that was artificial, and avoided it – but the downside is that no-one (including me) really knows what my protagonists look like.

The main narrator of Zodiac Station is Tom Anderson, a down-on-his-luck researcher with a stalled career and a young son to look after. Out of the blue, he gets the opportunity of a lifetime, to go and work for a big-name scientist at Zodiac Station, a research base locked in the polar ice on the arctic island of Utgard. Inevitably, things don’t go according to plan.
Anderson undergoes a strong physical transformation in the course of the book, so you’d want someone who can play an average joe and then muscle up. Tom Hardy might be good: if you compare him as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, and then as a civil engineer in Locke, you’d hardly recognise him.

Another key character is Eastman, a thrusting young American scientist on the base. For Eastman, I actually had Tom Cruise in mind as I wrote: specifically, the creepy Tom Cruise of Magnolia. Someone with an all-American smile and frat-boy bonhomie, but with something cruel and amoral lurking just underneath.

Zodiac Station is a testosterone heavy place, which is apparently true of a lot of real-life polar research bases. There aren’t many women, but the female lead in the book is Greta, a tough, laconic woman who serves as the base’s mechanic. For her, I’m thinking Noomi Rapace (ignoring the fact that if I also get Tom Hardy, I’ve just recreated the casting from Child 44). She’s got the strength of character, the looks, and the Scandinavian accent. Also, as the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it’d be a nice nod to another Nordic book that involved a murder on a cut-off island.

The final one of the main characters is Kennedy, an Irishman who’s the base’s doctor. I’d never thought of it until just now, but he’s obviously Brendan Gleeson.
Visit Tom Harper's website.

--Marshal Zeringue