( Polish - Lód - 2007 )

novel by Jacek Dukaj

Published: Atlantic Books - ? - 2012
ISBN: not yet listed

The story of the book takes place in an alternate universe where the First World War never occurred and Poland is still under Russian rule. Following the Tunguska event, the Ice, a mysterious form of matter, has covered parts of Siberia in Russia and started expanding outwards, reaching Warsaw. The appearance of Ice results in extreme decrease of temperature, putting the whole continent under constant winter, and is accompanied by Lute, angels of Frost, a strange form of being which seems to be a native inhabitant of Ice. Under the influence of the Ice, iron turns into zimnazo (cold iron), a material with extraordinary physical properties, which results in the creation of a new branch of industry, zimnazo mining and processing, giving birth to large fortunes and new industrial empires. Moreover, the Ice freezes History and Philosophy, preserving the old political regime, affecting human psychology and changing the laws of logic from many-valued logic of "Summer" to two-valued logic of "Winter" with no intermediate steps between True and False.

The protagonist of the novel is Benedykt Gierosławski, a Polish mathematician and notorious gambler, collaborating with Alfred Tarski on his work on many-valued logics. The Ministry of Winter's officials visit Gierosławski and make him embark on a Transsiberian journey to find his lost father, who is said to be able to communicate with Lute. During his journey Gieroslawski finds out that he is caught in a political intrigue, brought about by rivalry between two palace factions, liedniacy (conservatives and Siberian entrepreneurs backing the idea of "frozen Russia") and ottiepelnicy (mostly revolutionaries aiming for a literal and political "thaw"), supported also by the Tsar. He also meets Nikola Tesla in disguise, who has conceived a technology for manipulating and eventually destroying the Ice and has been hired by the Tsar to relieve Russia from the Winter. During the journey and upon his arrival in Irkutsk Gierosławski discovers that various political forces, including Followers of St. Marcyn, a sect worshiping the Ice led by Rasputin, followers of Nikolai Fyodorovich Fyodorov, who strive for assuring human immortality, and Siberian industrial potentates, are interested in his person and that Józef Piłsudski, in this reality leading a group of Sybiraks and Siberian separatists fighting for Polish independence, may possess knowledge about his father.

Janusz A. Zajdel - 2007
Kościelski prize - 2008