Next time you enjoy a pint of Haagen-Dazs, tip your hat to the gallant Blackfin icefish. According to Extreme Life of the Sea — written by Stephen Palumbi, director of the Hopkins Marine Station at Stanford, along with his journalist son Anthony Palumbi — these pale Antarctic beauties possess antifreeze proteins that have been cloned to keep your dessert from crystallizing. Don't squirm. Look at it through the Palumbis' eyes. Their book, like a romantic adventure, is inhabited by a cast of superlative characters who are all at risk: The Smallest, The Deepest, The Hottest, The Oldest. By the end, you will be rooting for them all – the giant isopod that looks like a pill bug the size of a poodle; the Pompeii worm, which looks like a drag queen's boa living with its rear end inside a 200-degree hydrothermal vent while its head floats in an icy 40-degree current; the jellyfish which reverts back to larva-hood when stressed; the Pacific red snapper which can reach 100 by the time it hits your supermarket. We know so little.