on 6 September 2008
This is one of the greatest books I've read. It has so many layers - stories of the future including climate change, but also much of the present such as family relationships. Best of all, it's a really easy read - no pretentious language to get on the way of the story. It made me think a bit more about what's happening to us all.
on 7 May 2009
This is the first Maggie Gee book I read and it will be the first of many - I am now a devotee... What a brilliant writer. The Ice People turns many contemporary debates on their heads or takes them to their extremes. Global warming has slowed down the onset of the next Ice Age, but when it comes to Gee's people, it arrives with terrifying speed and plunges our pampered populace into panic; their descent into base animal survival mode is swift and terminal. Meantime, racism does an about-turn as northern refugees vy for asylum in Africa; sexism rules and through the eyes of our hero (Saul) the men are still missing the point and wondering 'What did I do wrong?'... I'm sure Gee had the greatest fun creating her own dystopia. I certainly enjoyed reading it.
on 29 April 2014
Excellent, this is like dystopian fiction for adults. Its a deep and thought provoking commentary on the evolving roles of men and women in a not too distant society that is struggling with infertility. All this set in the gradual creeping on set of an ice age. The role of the Doves is creepy and surreal, a nod to the idea of machines "taking over". The idea of feral children surviving to inherit the world is a theme I saw recently is "The girl with all the gifts" and Liz Jensen touched on it briefly in The Uninvited. I really enjoyed this book.
on 1 February 2007
I just finished Maggie Gee's 'The Ice People' and it was really absorbing. It's an amazingly fast, vast book, rocketing through one man's life story and chronicling the messy, clumsy love he shares with his partner against the extraordinarily unpleasant and convincing end of Europe as the new Ice Age comes in (dated around 2030AD.) Shades of the classic apocalyptic visions of Orwell and Huxley are obvious, and it stands against them in quality, too. It's perversely humourous, and while the onset of disaster is unrelenting (and the finale, the staggering sequence of nightmares that rips apart the few last bonds) it's not without glory and hope, but it's not held in the arms of Civilisation, it has been reclaimed by the earth, the birds - ironic because mankind's greatest love at the end are Doves, synthetic children and lovers to some extent, replacements certainly - and the children are the ones who escape, out of control, beyond the understanding of the adults, creating fear and disgust for them (but not for us, the ones who are distanced from this vision of earth, warmly knowing that it's not Our Children, not Our Ice Age, as they would feel the same about us.)
It's a delicious achievement, and has managed also to weave in one element that I feel is missing from books such as 1984 - in those it is a certain power that takes over due to the common man's passivity; in this it's simply consumerism, a more convincingly modern threat. Rather than being forced into war and poverty to set the scene, we simply follow the path we're already on. Thus our hero manages to be much more responsible for the calamity just for existing - and yet ice ages here is inevitable, so in other ways much less so. It adds a depth, a modern twist that is missing from other efforts. There is also much more blindness - Saul constantly asks why his lover, Sarah, is so blind, even to the end. And yet the key points of the climax are while he is under a blind rage, one he can barely acknowledge, one that he refuses to admit scares people and yet he relies on its power again and again - and even finally when it is reflected back at him, he denies its power. And so another parent loses another child. One generation slips away, as it always does, but this time there is no following...Read it - it's great.
on 27 September 2013
This story took me quite a while to get into - its a strange mixture of believable and not quite believable glimpses of the not too distant future. However, I did find that I couldn't abandon it and once the story got going and moved away from the endless descriptions of fertility struggles I enjoyed the main characters and their journey.
on 11 April 2016
An attempt at a 'dystopic' novel. Gee clearly believes: nonwhites were trying to invade Europe because of 'global warming'. Therefore, with unpredicted global cooling, whites are trying to invade Africa. Her scene-setting appears to be based on a Londoner from northwest London: bits about London are followed by France and Spain, though she doesn't attempt Africa. She does her best to deal with the controlled media's flood of scares. However, she thinks the media, and political action, reflect the real world. So we have bizarre juxtapositions: gangs roam the world, yet people go on picnics; what she thinks are 'basic services', such as clean tapwater, exist, while huge areas collapse and fail; governments 'run out of money'—the realities of fiat money are out of her range; news media report what worries people, and officials make embarrassed explanations; a women's party wins an election despite opposition. Her main characters are successful: the quarter-African hairy male does vaguely-described computer research, and the petite red-haired female is on top of her profession—which is something like a women's counsellor quango.
There are rather painful intrusions: clothing and styles, in the female way, and the effects of twenty years or so of the story on women characters, are detailed. Oh, for a new Churchill. Propaganda films of 'African history'. Airports are heard to have collapsed, though for most of the novel air travel is unaffected. International phone calls are unaffected. The medicos (pregnancy problems...) all have foreign names, such as Zeuss. 'LibLab' join the Conservatives—in a time of chaos, Gee thinks elections will continue. More or less irrelevant robots are invented: I wonder if Gee works in advertising? She seems keen on slogans and marketing campaigns—as though new products would apply amid the destruction. Her robots do housework—surely a bit of wishful thinking, there. These can absorb 'organic' material as fuel in blissful disregard of scientific principles.
Sex is a surprisingly large part of this book; possibly this was the 'page-turning' aspect. She does her best to project a male principal character; much of this is no doubt what women think men do—he is given illegal guns (confiscated weapons), and we have a few macho passages, for example against a dozen sinister foreigners. There's a curious prefiguring of the Jewish-promoted homosexual 'marriage', in supposed sexual segregation; there is of course nothing about somewhat different mores of alien imported groups.
Part way through, there seemed to be a Day of the Triffids emergent storyline, which however came to nothing: very possibly her editor tactfully suggested something more on the lines of Brave New World. Or Lord of the Flies? (They are 'classics'). The book may even have been set up for a sequel. But it doesn't matter.
on 25 July 2013
This one of the most thought-provoking books I've read in a long time, plus it's a cracking good story. Maggie Gee has taken situations such as global warming, population boom, the polarisation of society into haves and have-nots, and most of all, the way in which a growing number of women think men and male attributes are really not worth bothering with. She then projects this into the future to make a picture of ordinary people struggling to live and love. Then the earth's orbit becomes very slightly further from the sun, enough to trigger a new ice age, and society begins to break down.
Written from the point-of-view of Saul, lonely man desperate to rescue his son from a women's commune he sees as dangerous, we travel across an increasingly lawless Europe towards the now temperate and fruitful Africa. But does his son share his aims? And will they make it through to Spain and on to Africa?
I enjoyed this as a story about very real people coping with extraordinary circumstances, and it really made me think about how sidelining men might not be such a bright idea. They might drive you mad at times, but a sane society needs both masculine and feminine strengths to function properly.
on 18 December 1999
This book is easily read in one sitting. It is exiting and bold in it's vision of a future that propells our imaginations to question our present. The important socio-ecological themes such as climate, population and race blend to paint a tale that serves to remind us that there is a need for relationships between men and women that goes beyond ideology- the survival of the human race. Gee inteligently parables the interests of the two sexes' priorities for survival in this moving, exiting and relevent story.
on 23 September 2013
Wow. An amazing book that stuck with me long after I finished it. An excellent novel in terms of characterisation, plot, pacing and any other metric you care to use. Like the best SF, it explores human nature in depth. There are no heroes in this book, only misguided people trying their very best to do right by themselves and their families.
on 7 October 2013
A bit drawn out, but as a sci-fi fan this is a good read and like 1984 and Brave New World, a bit prophetic.