“Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083,” is 2005 novel about a group of 14 year olds who find themselves participating in a reality TV show called Antarctic Survivor. The stakes are high for the kids. They are supposed to re-create a failed 1912 attempt to reach the South Pole. They could all die, just as the original team did, but these kids are motivated to succeed. If they win, they could get enough money to attend high school or further their career goals.
These are the first two characters introduced: Stephen Michael and Andrew Morton. Mandatory teleschool (school via TV) is over for them. Neither can afford to pay for an education past the eighth grade. Only one of them has any desire to continue on with his education. The other boy knows he’s finished with school forever, and he’s looking for an opportunity to start a life away from home.
Stephen is 14 years old in 2080. He can’t afford to continue in school, so his only chance to further his education is to win a Toss scholarship. Both of his parents and his little brother died in a Superpox pandemic, so his immediate family has been wiped out. No one can foot the bill for his education except for him.
The Toss is a scholarship competition consisting of a literal toss of the dice. One by one, the boys and girls roll a pair of dice. Each roller is given two numbers he or she must roll. If you roll the dice and get the winning numbers (double sixes, etc), then you win a scholarship. It’s marketed as being an equal opportunity program, but there are not enough scholarships for all of the kids who hope to win one.
When it’s Steve’s turn to roll the dice, he is told he must roll a five and a three to win. He rolls two fives and his hopes of continuing his education are shattered.
Three years later, in 2083, Andrew is a stereotypical, lazy teen perpetually glued to his TV set. Unfortunately, he watches reruns of TV shows instead of paying attention to teleschool lessons. He has failed his eighth grade final exam, which he is required by law to pass, and his father is ballistic over this. If Andrew fails his retake exam, his father will have to take parenting classes. There is no expectation that Andrew will be continuing in school past the eighth grade.
When Andrew’s dad turns on the TV and clicks on the final exam, a special announcement is made. All eighth graders are eligible to apply to be part of a reality show called Historical Survivors. Kids who are chosen to be contestants have a chance to win up to $100,000 if voted MVP. Simply completing the challenge will result in a prize of $10,000. The series is set in Anatarctica, which is “one of the coolest places in the world.” Andrew’s father orders him to apply, because he wants Andrew out of the house. Andrew agrees before he starts his final and is reminded that he has an ancestor who was an explorer there.