Australian speculative fiction author Dr Sean Williams was awarded the Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship in 2016. He travelled to Antarctica to research an alternate history novel based on the Heroic era of Antarctic exploration.

Dr Williams has published over 40 novels and more than 100 short stories across numerous genres, primarily science fiction. He has won numerous literary awards and has written several New York Times bestsellers.

The novel he researched during his Antarctic Arts Fellowship depicts a meeting of heroic Antarctic expeditioners and future explorers.

“My novel will explore the encounter between a young Douglas Mawson, other famous Antarctic explorers including Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton, and a survivor of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds during a delayed version of the Discovery Expedition,” Dr Williams said.

The 1901–04 British Discovery Expedition launched the Antarctic careers of many who became leading figures in the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. The expedition was a celebrated success, even though it needed an expensive relief mission to free Discovery and its crew from the ice.

Australian Antarctic explorer Sir Douglas Mawson, who hailed from Dr Williams’ home state of South Australia, led the first Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911–1914 several years after the Discovery expedition.

Tragedy also struck Mawson’s expedition, with two deaths and Mawson’s remarkable survival after falling down a crevasse and making his way back to base alone.

“I have always been interested in the Antarctica as more than just an extreme and utterly unique environment. It’s also a meeting place of people from very different cultures, where conventional notions of empire fail.”