RIP Nicholas Johnson, author of Big Dead Place
December 8, 2012 5:43 PM   Subscribe

Nicholas Johnson, author of Big Dead Place: Inside the Strange and Menacing World of Antarctica, committed suicide on November 28, in West Seattle. His friend and former roommate Jason Anthony (mentioned in the acknowledgements of Big Dead Place) has written an obituary. An obituary from the book's publisher, Feral House. An adaptation of Big Dead Place remains in development with HBO. Previously.
posted by Xere (27 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I am not fucking enjoying this December.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:44 PM on December 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by Artw at 5:57 PM on December 8, 2012

Too many dots going on lately.
posted by localroger at 6:02 PM on December 8, 2012

WTF!?! That was a great book!!

posted by Melismata at 6:10 PM on December 8, 2012

I am so sorry to hear that. I enjoyed the hell out of that book (and site).
posted by Chrysostom at 6:14 PM on December 8, 2012

posted by pernoctalian at 6:28 PM on December 8, 2012

posted by Sticherbeast at 6:51 PM on December 8, 2012

Thanks for this. Bigdeadplace will always be one of my favorite blogs.

posted by rtha at 7:02 PM on December 8, 2012

It seems that Nick was recently accepted and then suddenly rejected for an Antarctic placement:

Nick got “clean” and did quite well this past year keeping off the juice. But what might put him over was the fact that he was accepted to go down to Antarctica but at the last minute was rejected. I reproduce the rejection letter to him below.
Dear Mr. Johnson:

Please be advised that PAE Inc. hereby rescinds its August 1, 2012 primary offer letter and September 28, 2012 alternate offer letter to you. It has recently come to our attention that, writing as Nicholas Johnson, you are the author of Big Dead Place. It is our opinion that due to the nature and content of this book, you would not be a suitable candidate for employment under the Antarctic Support Contract.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. PAE regrets any inconvenience this decision has caused, but believes that the decision is in both parties’ best interest.



S*** M****

Vice President, Stability Operations


Now Nick has taken a trip to another sort of Big Dead Place. See you, Nick. We love you.

posted by KokuRyu at 7:23 PM on December 8, 2012

Oh. Wow.

posted by byanyothername at 7:41 PM on December 8, 2012

posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:54 PM on December 8, 2012

posted by LobsterMitten at 7:56 PM on December 8, 2012

He was a close friend of mine once, and I'll miss him greatly. We hadn't been in touch recently but I liked knowing he was out there, being weird and creative and encouraging other people to do the same.

A few us are getting together Sunday (tomorrow) in Seattle to share stories. Drop me a line if you knew him and want to join us.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:12 PM on December 8, 2012 [5 favorites]

He sounds like a unique and fascinating guy, with a unique and necessary voice and perspective, and that letter from "PAE" rejecting him for reassignment to McMurdo reads like such petty, small-minded, bureaucratic horseshit...sounds like they didn't really deserve him if you ask me.

RIP, Nicholas Johnson.


This year, has been terrible. I lost a good friend last Saturday, another unique and necessary, creative, sensitive and magnanimous soul on Saturday.

Second one this effin' year!

RIP. Brent.


posted by Skygazer at 8:29 PM on December 8, 2012

I didn't know him personally, but I used to work with someone who did (and who was surprised that I'd even heard of Big Dead Place, much less enjoyed reading it.) This is very sad news indeed. My thoughts are with those who knew and loved Nick.

posted by bmarkey at 8:32 PM on December 8, 2012

Great book and it sounds like he was a good guy.

posted by hanoixan at 8:58 PM on December 8, 2012

Oh crap, that's terrible.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:21 PM on December 8, 2012

Sad news, a fascinating book
posted by fallingbadgers at 11:24 PM on December 8, 2012

Another Previously with Nick Johnson in Antarctica.

It sounds like the people sent to McMurdo Station get to experience the awesome nature of Antarctica about as much as Spring Break kids experience daily life in Mexico.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 12:25 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I bought the book from Amazon before I went on holiday earlier this year, but because the damn thing didn't arrive until after I'd left -- despite paying for next day shipping -- I still haven't read it.

I can only think I bought it because of that earlier link.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:28 AM on December 9, 2012

Loved his book.

posted by bondcliff at 5:03 AM on December 9, 2012

posted by daisyk at 7:27 AM on December 9, 2012

I got the call yesterday from Nick's former professor Perry Mills. Nick ran a blog on Mills' crucifixion as a whistleblower at Western Washington University.

Nick's dad confirmed that being blacklisted over Big Dead Place hit Nick very hard.
posted by warbaby at 10:21 AM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's such tremendous bullshit that they yanked his contract offer because of the book. It made me want to go to Antarctica even more, and I'd already wanted to go (not as a tourist, but as a worker) so very much. I can't be the only one.
posted by rtha at 11:27 AM on December 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

posted by gerls at 4:26 PM on December 9, 2012

posted by JoeZydeco at 9:18 PM on December 9, 2012

posted by alteredcarbon at 6:48 PM on December 10, 2012

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