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Ice (1967)

by Anna Kavan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1204317,622 (3.83)45
In this haunting and surreal novel, the narrator and a man known as the warden search for an elusive girl in a frozen, seemingly post-nuclear, apocalyptic landscape. The country has been invaded and is being governed by a secret organization. There is destruction everywhere; great walls of ice overrun the world. Together with the narrator, the reader is swept into a hallucinatory quest for this strange and fragile creature with albino hair. Acclaimed upon its 1967 publication as the best science fiction book of the year, this extraordinary and innovative novel has subsequently been recognized as a major work of literature in its own right.… (more)
  1. 20
    The Castle by Franz Kafka (razorsoccamremembers)
  2. 10
    The Image of a Drawn Sword by Jocelyn Brooke (Petroglyph)
    Petroglyph: If you appreciate the blend of unpleasant dreamscapes and Kafkaesque totalitarianism in either of these novellas, check out the other.
  3. 00
    Amnesia Moon by Jonathan Lethem (sturlington)
    sturlington: Kavan was clearly an influence on Lethem.
  4. 00
    Metropole by Ferenc Karinthy (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Similar surreal/dream-like trapped atmosphere
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» See also 45 mentions

English (40)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (42)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
I didn't know anything about [Ice] before opening its cover and diving it. It is surreal - like an arctic fever dream and yet also has a sort of spy story feel to it. The writing style reminded me of Italo Calvino's [Invisible Cities]. The storyline seems to weave back upon itself, and the same scenario keeps repeating but with differing evolutions. The world is a dystopian one where ice is slowly encasing the planet, and I did love the numerous different ways that Kavan describes the all encompassing cold. But the cold also permeates her characters - I didn't like anyone in this novel, and didn't much enjoy the story, but I kept reading because I wanted to know where it was going. And just when I got to the final pages, and I thought I knew where she was going with it all, and I thought it was brilliant...she didn't go there. So disappointing. And slightly maddening.

"Instead of my world, there would soon be only ice, snow, stillness, death; no more violence, no war, no victims; nothing but frozen silence, absence of life. The ultimate achievement of mankind would be, not just self-destruction, but the destruction of all life; the transformation of the living world into a dead planet."


Originally published in 1967, Kavan's vision of climate change will speak to present day readers.
  Crazymamie | Jan 28, 2024 |
I just really don't know if I loved this or if I hated it. Parts of it were so amazing and just sang to me but parts of it made me cringe and look away.

Either way, love or hate, it was beautifully written and so compelling. I guess after all is said and done, I did love it. ( )
  beentsy | Aug 12, 2023 |
Unbelievably tedious meanderings through the psychic geography of a junkie. ( )
  yarb | Aug 2, 2023 |
2.75

Very easy to read with good, economic prose, but it didn't draw me in. And for something this elusive and abstract it kind of needs to. Not enough plot or satisfying character development for it to function as a story, and not atmospheric or visual enough to succeed as a mood piece.

It reminded me of Time Snake and Super Clown of all things, which I also wasn't a fan of, though this preceded it and is less pulpy and more "literary". Quite different novels in a lot of ways, but both are trippy narratives where an unreliable narrator/male protagonist is constantly pursuing some vague female apparition through a mysterious, dystopian world. ( )
  TheScribblingMan | Jul 29, 2023 |
Kavan creates a nightmare world that is also reality, seamlessly shifting between a global crisis to dream fugues, from a surreal search across borders that are never defined to a man's realization that the boundaries of his identity are similarly fragile. The prose is unrivaled: it flows in and out of confusion just like the narrative's logic does. ( )
  proustitute | Apr 2, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kavan, Annaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aldiss, BrianIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Berning, TinaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hulst, AukeAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marshall-van Wieringen, M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morawetz, SilviaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Priest, ChristopherIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schmitz, WernerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stoddart, JimCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Szafran, GeneCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I was lost, it was already dusk, I had been driving for hours and was practically out of petrol.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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In this haunting and surreal novel, the narrator and a man known as the warden search for an elusive girl in a frozen, seemingly post-nuclear, apocalyptic landscape. The country has been invaded and is being governed by a secret organization. There is destruction everywhere; great walls of ice overrun the world. Together with the narrator, the reader is swept into a hallucinatory quest for this strange and fragile creature with albino hair. Acclaimed upon its 1967 publication as the best science fiction book of the year, this extraordinary and innovative novel has subsequently been recognized as a major work of literature in its own right.

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