In 1976 Farrar Strauss in the USA and Gollancz in the UK, published the 5th novel by an American writer who had been gathering momentum on both sides of the Atlantic. It was both an intense love story and a Jules Verne type science fiction adventure, centred on an attempt by a Swedish scientist, an American journalist and a French speaking adventurer, to become the first people to set foot on the North Pole, to arrive there, and return, borne on the wind by a huge red and white balloon. The book was a critical sensation, and was runner up for the National Book Awards in 1977. But despite selling extremely well on both sides of the Atlantic, being translated into six languages, and being the springboard for another 11 books, by the end of the 1980's it had disappeared from view. Which is where it might have stayed had not Philip Pullman in 2006 mentioned Macdonald's work, and The Balloonist in particular, as an inspiration in his early career, and bemoaned the fact that the author was now unknown. Then, two months ago, in January 2011, Steven Kellmann, an influential US book critic (Director, National Book Critics Circle) also nominated The Balloonist as his first choice for a book that should be reissued.