I first encountered Anna Kavan's name in *A Reader's Guide to Twentieth Century Authors*. The bio on her life interested me in her writing. The salient points are (1) she underwent psychiatric treatment for suicide, (2) changed her name to that of a character in one of her novels, and (3) was an heroin addict for half her life. What kind of fiction, I wondered, would such a person write?
*Ice* answers the question nicely. The entry on Kavan describes it as "an impressive foray into the world of science fiction". The novel depicts a man's quest for an enigmatic woman in an apocalyptic world. Civilization is being reduced to basic elements by the encroachment of a new ice age. The heat of human emotions takes place against this looming backdrop.
It is the last novel in the second half of Kavan's literary career and is generally considered the best of that period. Although classified as science fiction, the book does not incorporate the usual futuristic gadgetry or extra-terrestrials encountered in that genre. The classification is a loose one. Just as Orwell's *1984* is more than a dystopian story and Jame's "Turn of the Screw" is more than a ghost story, so is *Ice* more than science fiction. The prose is lean, vivid; Kafkaesque in its elastic shift from realism to the bizarre.
The only flaw I find in the book lies with the publisher, not the author. Peter Dutton did not include an introduction which would have rounded out the reader's perception of the author's humanity. A finished piece of art - say, the Parthenon, van Gogh's "Sun Flowers", Kavan's *Ice* - comes to the viewer in seamless, silent perfection. Nothing of the labor and torment which begets art is revealed. To an extent, appreciation of Anna Kavan's unique artistry is stifled by the lack of a profile.
Several sites exist on the internet that provide information on the novel's author. One has several photographs of Kavan. The novel, of course, is the best introduction to this fascina! ting writer. If you like *Ice* Amazon.com advertises other works of hers. I have another on special order. For me she is an author worth reading.