Synopses & Reviews
A dazzling and haunting vision of the end of the world, Ice is a masterpiece of literary science fiction now in a new 50th anniversary edition with a foreword by Jonathan Lethem
“One might become convinced that Kavan had seen the future....A half century after its first appearance, Kavan’s fever dream of a novel is beginning to seem all too real.” — The New Yorker
In a frozen, apocalyptic landscape, destruction abounds: great walls of ice overrun the world and secretive governments vie for control. Against this surreal, yet eerily familiar broken world, an unnamed narrator embarks on a hallucinatory quest for a strange and elusive “glass-girl” with silver hair. He crosses icy seas and frozen plains, searching ruined towns and ransacked rooms, all to free her from the grips of a tyrant known only as the warden and save her before the ice closes all around. A novel unlike any other, Ice is at once a dystopian adventure shattering the conventions of science fiction, a prescient warning of climate change and totalitarianism, a feminist exploration of violence and trauma, a Kafkaesque literary dreamscape, and a brilliant allegory for its author’s struggles with addiction—all crystallized in prose glittering as the piling snow.
Kavan’s 1967 novel has built a reputation as an extraordinary and innovative work of literature, garnering acclaim from China Miéville, Patti Smith, J. G. Ballard, Anaïs Nin, and Doris Lessing, among others. With echoes of dystopian classics like Ursula Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven, Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, and J. G. Ballard’s High Rise, Ice is a necessary and unforgettable addition to the canon of science fiction classics.
“I can tell you about some women writers who truly are fantastic. One is Anna Kavan...she’s caught in a haze and then a light, a little teeny light, come through. It could be a leopard, that light, or it could be a spot of blood. It could be anything. But she hooks onto that and spirals out. And she does it within the accessible rhythms of plot, and that’s really exciting. She’s not hung up with being a woman, she just keeps extending herself, keeps telescoping language and plot.” Patti Smith
One of the most mysterious of modern writers, Anna Kavan created a uniquely fascinating fictional world. Few contemporary novelists could match the intensity of her vision.” J. G. Ballard
“A writer of intense imagination....Slippery, bizarre, and meticulously written....A gripping and uniquely strange work of science fiction.” Kirkus (Starred Review)
“Ice is ambitious, unforgettable, and one of a kind. It demands to be experienced.” The Millions
About the Author
Anna Kavan (1901–1968) was born Helen Woods. She began her career writing under her married name Helen Ferguson, publishing six novels. It was only after she had a nervous breakdown that she became Anna Kavan, the protagonist of her 1930 novel Let Me Alone, with an outwardly different persona and a new literary style. Much of her life remains an enigma, but her talent was none the less remarkable, and her works have been compared to that of Doris Lessing, Virginia Woolf, and Franz Kafka. Kavan suffered periodic bouts of mental illness and long-term drug addiction — she had become addicted to heroin in the 1920s and continued to use it throughout her life — and these facets of her life feature prominently in her work. Her widely admired works include Asylum Piece, I Am Lazarus, and Julia and the Bazooka (published posthumously). She died in 1968 of heart failure, soon after the publication of her most celebrated work, Ice.