November 2, 2018

Tundra pressure: Antarctic scientist turns on colleague who kept revealing book endings


King G

King George’s Island, Antarctica: newly a crime scene

It was a scene that started mundanely – and by the end, could have been lifted from The Thing

At a remote research centre on King George’s Island in Antarctica, over 500 miles off the coast of Argentina, two scientists – Sergey Savitsky, 55, and Oleg Beloguzov, 52 – were stationed together for four years, in year-long shifts. They spent most of their time reading – as you probably would. Sounds pretty idyllic, right? Just imagine: four years to read, in a cosy-albeit-terrifyingly-remote outpost, uninterrupted… what bliss:


“More tea, Sergey? I’m brewing up. This Turgenev is an absolute ripper, incidentally. I’m nearly at the end.”

“Don’t mind if I do… ooh look, a penguin! Write that down.” *


Things were a little different at the Bellingshausen post, however. The two scientists’ arrangement turned dramatically sour last week, when The Scottish Daily Record, among many others, reported that Sergey had stabbed Oleg after his colleague kept on revealing the end of the books housed in the facility’s library.

Savitsky allegedly attacked Beloguzov with a kitchen knife, leaving him with wounds to the heart; the latter remains in intensive care in Chile, although his injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

Savitsky is now under house arrest in St. Petersburg charged with attempted murder; thought to be the first such charge made on Antarctic soil. He has apparently expressed regret at the attack which took place in the outpost canteen, and which The Sun reports was, perhaps unsurprisingly, ‘fuelled by alcohol’.

The story promptly went viral, with many Twitter users sympathising with the aggrieved scientist – though, hopefully not too much, right…? Right?

Anyway, if any Russian Antarctic scientists are reading (and why wouldn’t they be) we suggest a solution: fill your far-flung research posts with Choose Your Own Adventure stories; that way you’ll get a different ending every time!


*As you may be able to tell, my extensive research into this story has not turned up what they were actually researching




Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.