Ice Trilogy
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Ice Trilogy

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3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  343 ratings  ·  48 reviews
A New York Review Books Original

In 1908, deep in Siberia, it fell to earth. THEIR ICE. A young man on a scientific expedition found it. It spoke to his heart, and his heart named him Bro. Bro felt the Ice. Bro knew its purpose. To bring together the 23,000 blond, blue-eyed Brothers and Sisters of the Light who were scattered on earth. To wake their sleeping hearts. To re...more
Paperback, 694 pages
Published March 15th 2011 by NYRB Classics (first published 2006)
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Best Russian Literature
146th out of 348 books — 1,362 voters
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Translated Speculative Fiction
130th out of 136 books — 73 voters


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Community Reviews

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Greg
Ironically, for a book that is sort of about the whole being greater than the parts the same isn't true for the novel. Most of the individual parts of the book, the little stories and narrative strands are fairly interesting and readable. The book moved along for me at a fairly quick clip and if i didn't stop and think about the book as a whole I was quite happy with it.

Actually, it wasn't really until I was telling Karen that I was almost finished with it and then added that this isn't very go...more
El
I finished this on Friday night or so, and was all prepared to rate and review it like a GoodReader does. But then I did some normal physical stuff that apparently my body is very unhappy with, and I spent the rest of my downtime this weekend trying to figure out how to roll off the couch and into a standing position without damaging myself or my loved ones. And, also (and possibly relatedly but I'm waiting for my doctor to get back to me on this) my thyroid hates me.

So a proper rate and review...more
Szplug
Part One—Bro:
Strangely enough, Sorokin wrote Bro—or at least had it published—a couple of years after he penned Ice, to which the first-named book served as a prequel. It begins in rather commonplace bildungsroman style, recounting the life-forming experiences of a somewhat awkward but vibrant and energetic Russian boy, the son of a wealthy merchant and one apparently being groomed for a career in service of the same. Whilst still a child, however, the Great War befalls the Russian Empire, follo...more
Cindy
Um, what now?

My original intention was to review each of the three books in the Ice Trilogy. As you can see below, I only really reviewed the first one, Bro. It also took me 6 months of faffing about to finish the book. (Yes, I read some amazing books in the meantime.)

The beginning was brilliant. The ending was fun and interesting. But, man, I don't think Sorokin makes a very good case for weird or satirical fiction here. There was almost no humor, or at least sideways references to the real wor...more
Morgan
There were several factors that lead me to pick up the Ice Trilogy on a particularly hot, low-key, and eventually more expensive than I planned July 23:

1. It was my birthday
2. It's Russian
3. The synopsis sounded interesting
4. The repetition of the number 23

And now, after two (?) months of reading this book, I think it best that I should learn that not everything that has a 23 is going to be enlightening.

I enjoyed the first chapter. I rather liked the beginning of the second book. And by the time...more
Trina
I wanted to like this book. I really did. But I didn't. The concept of a book this large written from the point of view of, or at least spending the most time in the story of, a bunch of primordial light that became trapped in human bodies during the creation of the earth and that now want to destroy Earth in order to become light again. As a reader and a human, it's kind of difficult to root for the light beings. Especially as they aren't written to be terribly sympathetic.

So let's see. Sorokhi...more
zxvasdf
In the beginning there was light and the light moved through the perfect universe, perfect in its motion and its existence. The light moved past perfect worlds in the perfect void. It saw a sphere of pure liquid, beautiful in its perfection. The light shone into it, entered that perfect prison, that labyrinth of refraction that shattered the light into 23,000 pieces!

The light moved about, stirring the waters, heating things up. Life bloomed, countless generations of evolutionary multitudes risi...more
Joe
The book questions whether all of human progress has taken us away from salvation, not along moral channels the way most religions do, but along technological and societal channels. Eternity, Sorokin's sect suggests, is the natural state of being, and human beings were an accidental interruption of it. All of our knowledge and advancement represents a cancer growing upon the pure and lifeless beauty inherent in the universe. This question of progress begets another question, asked directly of re...more
Chad Post
*GoodReads needs to allow half-stars.*

I think this would make a better miniseries than a book, but it's still fairly interesting. To me. I don't know anyone else who's read this and liked it. It's not particularly well written, the characters are pretty flat, it's extremely repetitive, etc. . . . Yet, the concept of this story--new agey cult believes that the ice meteor that caused the Tungus incident awakens the hearts of a chosen 23,000 who will bring about the transformation of the world--is...more
John
At this point my conclusion is as a stand-alone piece of work the middle section of the Ice Trilogy is brilliant, bizarre and terrifying. As part of the whole, the second book Ice feels more like a way-station on a journey that is swinging toward tedium. It feels like blasphemy because my meat machine heart has loved almost everything that has been translated by Sorokin thus far, for its violence, its objectivism, its alien tone, but Ice Trilogy is an epic undertaking that seems better suited to...more
Gevera Bert
This was terrible.

Preachy, over written to the point of incoherence, stupid amounts of capitalized words and italics that distract instead of enhance. Toward the end there are pages-long smug, nonsensical paragraphs about "meat machines" and "metal tubes".

For example: "Eighty-eight years ago this meat machine, with the help of his cohorts, had overturned a dynasty of meat machines that had ruled the Country of Ice for more than three hundred years."

Alternates between pointless minutia and long...more
Adam
This was awful. Not much more to say. I hope it was simply a poor translation, because after the seven thousandth character wearing a yellow shirt with red shorts whose name was Ib and who had blond hair was introduced, I couldn't bring myself to care about anything further that was written. Something compels me to finish a book once I've started it, no matter what. It was an unfortunate compulsion, in this case.

If I'd read only the first book of the trilogy, Ice, I might have given this two or...more
Ruth
Jul 17, 2011 Ruth rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: nyrb
the beginning is a five star joy...then it gets weird, and is still great, and then it just gets redundant and laughable. think of it as an ombre effect between 5 and 3 stars.
Ian
Full of stunning original ideas, yet somewhat sloppy in the execution. I feel like I'm giving this more stars than it really deserves simply because I've never encountered anything like it.

The first real stumbling block is the fact that the first two books are essentially the same plot (book 2 was actually written first, but book 1 is much better written). The 3rd book really pulls out all of the stops and is enjoyably insane, yet the place it ends up in is sort of unsatisfying (mainly because...more
Matthew
Hmm, I'm going to be legit with you. I'm somewhere deep in the outskirts of Seattle and its strange environs on the Sound, deep in the wet forest of the Salish Sea. Living out of a car, avoiding hard sunlight from a dying planet, selling evermore expensive space in a small building to those that lack it. And as I write this I am even now weeks removed from those last words I've written for you. I am only writing out of an obsessive need to write (and edit and share at a much later date).

I realiz...more
Ginny Pennekamp
This book was infuriating -- I picked it up because Kyle had read some cool reviews and it sounded fun, like THE 4400. And parts of it were, and parts of it were so incredibly strange, and parts of it were so boring, and parts were just porn. From the very beginning I felt like, "Eh, I'm not going to finish this," and then I'd look up, and I would have read over 50 pages, and an hour later, I'd think, "I wonder what happens next in that ice book..."

So... slowly I read the whole thing. I can't sa...more
Dara Salley
This is a delightful fever dream of a science fiction novel. I was a little intimidated when I picked it up because it’s 700 pages. I knew that if it weren’t entrancing, I’d never make it through. Luckily, there was never a dull moment and I had no problem devouring the book.

The narrative starts out as a fairly conventional history of a young man who grew up during the Russian Revolution. Soon, however, the novel takes a sharp left turn into an area of fantasy. The protagonist of the first book,...more
Rebecca Stuhr
I don't think I'm going to make it past the "currently-reading" status of this book. My reading time is precious and I no longer feel the need to finish a book because I started it. I was totally into the first few chapters of this book, when suddenly the protagonist connects to his true being through proximity to the primordial ice. His recurring dream, which seemed somewhat metaphoric for the onset of puberty, turns out really to be his primordial memory calling to him. Even if it is meant as...more
Jason Plein
The first third of this book is the best part. It describes the formation of a kind of secret society and doomsday cult, which goes on to make mischief throughout the 20th century, and most of it is written from the point of view of its founder. The cult's theology is a kind of fascist, doomsday Theosophy: in the world are 23,000 people who are rays of the primordial light, trapped in the bodies of people; the other people do not matter (they are called "meat machines"); when all of the 23,000 a...more
Scott
This one was a bit of a hard slog. I like experimental sci-fi, but I felt most of the experiments fell flat or were dragged out far too long to the point of boredom or annoyance. Still, the trilogy has an intriguing premise that kept me going until the end, which is: the universe was actually created by the 23,000 Brothers of the Light. When they made Earth, though, they screwed up somehow and got trapped there in human bodies, with their "hearts" dormant and traveling from body to body as one v...more
Graeme


Sorokin writes in a relatively simple prose style, at least as represented by the English translation. I want to check out the Russian versions while I am living in Russia to see how the original reads. My friend here told me that Sorokin's first novel, The Queue, was written devoid of descriptions, mainly in dialogue with an absurd bent to his prose, and in regards to this trilogy, Sorokin changes up his prose styles throughout the novels.

In other reviews that people tend to talk about the rep...more
Hugo Hamilton
This is an astonishing book, It's not at all what you expect: infuriatingly prolix, grotesquely over-written as only a Russian novel can be. And yet the writing is beautiful and the plot is a tour-de-force leading you into new dimensions without ever letting you know where you are going, right to the climax which is as unexpected as it is startling. You have to sit for a few minutes and let your mind stumble back to reality. Along the way you see the 20th Century from an entirely new perspective...more
Marco Cultrera
Some great moments and a clever idea could have made this work outstanding, but ultimately the constant repetition of plotting points and an uninspired ending doom this trilogy. It's particularly baffling in the second book how he creates numerous great characters, wonderfully nuanced and real, just to abandon them as soon as they are "acquired" by the cult of the ice. I would have much preferred he explored how their human personalities would have integrated with the hive mentality of the cult,...more
Guy Seavey
Very interesting and strange book. The short stories all lend to the larger one quite well. I am not sure if I would have tried to read this if I had more info on it. In the end I am glad I gave it a chance. Thought provoking and confusing at times. The end is not at all what I expected. I would recommend this book for people who want to think beyond the written word and contemplate our existence.
Jim Coughenour
I read only the first book of this trilogy and that was enough. Sorokin is clearly a brilliant writer, but (given my general lack of interest in science fiction) it left me cold. Neither the story, the style, the mystico-political allegory, nor the characters sustained my interest. I accept the rebuke that I've missed the full context, that it's only by finishing the other two volumes that I would fully understand the first. But that's not going to happen. I have to save my exhaustion for Knausg...more
Dirk
I'm giving this a fourth star with reservations. In the first book of the trilogy, there are too many words emphasized with italics, which was more distracting than helpful; the device may be meant to stress a particularly idiosyncratic narrative point of view, but it tends to take me out of the story. Also, the accretion of episodes that are very similar to one another bordered on the tedious in some instance. Still, I admire the work because it attempts so much in terms of genre, pacing, shift...more
Albert
A unique and unpredictable work of mysticism. Unfortunately, the many characters are not well individuated in Bro, the first part of the trilogy. The narrative voice is that of a brainwashed cult with a drone replacing individual voices. The repetitiveness of the search and conversion of ice brethren becomes stale after a few iterations. The Soviet references and symbolism were sometimes quite opaque.
Simone Roberts
Whoa! It's a "novel of the century" -- you know, lots of novelists like to write "historical" fiction that spans the 20th C, and lo for here is another. Pessoa's styles differed so much, he wrote as several unique selves, well, here, genres act that way. Qualms are tickled, aesthetic spidey senses are keyed up, and we know from the get go that at some level we are rooting against the protagonists which means that I'm constantly renegotiating the author-reader relationship. Fun for all, people. W...more
Brent Hayward
Insidious. There were a few clunky parts that made me roll my eyes (the ending, for one), and crazy parts that made me shake my head (bizarre sex with a Japanese schoolgirl), but the overall effect of the book crept up on me and took over. An ice asteroid crashes in Siberia, a cult is formed, and a rapture is planned. But over the century that the book covers, while the Brothers of the Light search for the 23000 members of their group, the narrative fluctuates from a Russian pastoral novel to mo...more
Steven Tomcavage
I planned to finish this book, but it didn't happen. The idea is very interesting, a man discovers a shard of ice from the meteor that struck Siberia in the early 20th century and uses it to violently spiritually awaken others around the world. But the author seems very interested in details. So much so, that the story seems to take a back seat at times. I'd love to find out how the story plays out, but maybe I'll watch the movie if one's ever made - and if it's not an epic 6-hour trilogy about...more
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NYRB Classics: Ice Trilogy, by Vladimir Sorokin 1 4 Oct 23, 2013 01:40PM  
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Vladimir Sorokin was born in a small town outside of Moscow in 1955. He trained as an engineer at the Moscow Institute of Oil and Gas, but turned to art and writing, becoming a major presence in the Moscow underground of the 1980s. His work was banned in the Soviet Union, and his first novel, The Queue, was published by the famed émigré dissident Andrei Sinyavsky in France in 1983. In 1992, Soroki...more
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