The Big Chunk of Ice
By Bertrand R. Brinley
Purple House Press, 2005

The Big Chunk of Ice is the fourth and final tome in The Mad Scientists' Club series. The MSC had a hard time, with the original publisher, MacRae Smith, going bankrupt and closing in 1977. This left the penultimate book in the series, The Big Kerplop!, as a collector's item, with only 1000 copies leaving the press before its run ended. The Big Chunk of Ice was copyrighted in 1986, but not published.

Almost 20 years later, and 11 years after Brinley's death, his son finally made a deal with Purple House Press to release the books, both in individual volumes and in the collection The Mad Scientists' Club: Complete Collection. As a bonus, the original illustrator, Charles Geer, was commissioned to do illustrations for the final two volumes.

So, what's it like? Well, basically, it's what you would expect. The same characters are back, doing sciency things but with 1950s technology. This time, they are joining Professor Stratavarious on a trip to Austria to do geological research on glaciers. While there they learn of a local story involving a jewel thief who fell down a crevasse, and was never seen again... a jewel thief who was claimed to have the largest diamond in the world on him at the time. They aren't the only ones who are interested in this tale, and their scientific work is interrupted by a number of suspicious characters who warn them off the glacier, who want their professional opinions on the glacier, or who just want to play elaborate practical jokes on them.

Overall, this is a good addition to the series, and if you enjoy the original stories you will likely enjoy this one as well. It does come across as a bit more silly than the original stories, in part because Professor Stratavarious is a over-the-top comic relief character, and in part because the MSC has discovered the fun and excitement of puns, and spend a disturbing amount of the dialog showing of their new hobby. While this is very much in the spirit of the earlier stories, it is, along with The Big Kerplop!, an entire novel rather than a collection of short stories.

While I enjoyed this book, I wouldn't recommend that you read it before reading the other books in the series. Start with The Mad Scientists' Club, and just keep reading until you get bored... but chances are, you won't.

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