The Empire of Ice

I’m putting it out just ’cause it’s cold outside.

There was, incidentally, a sequel to this novel, Earth Winter. As I recall, I have no notes on it, it wasn’t as good.

Raw Feed (1995): The Empire of Ice, Richard Moran, 1994.Empire of Ice

I used to think that if I didn’t read sf I could make a steady diet of books like this: a suspense novel with near future sf trappings – specifically my old favorite, a new ice age.

However, I didn’t find this novel all that satisfying.

There was the entirely predictable romance between hero Benjamin Franklin Meade and heroine Marjorie Glynn. The banter between these two got awful tedious.

Also, both seemed improbably young (34 and 31 respectively) to head major scientific enterprises (his own geothermal exploration company in Meade’s case and building Biosphere Britannica for Glynn), but, then again, scientists do their best stuff when young.

Also the novel’s end was very predictable with the use of superheated water via geothermal energy used to stop Irish tanks crossing the North Channel.

The effects of England, Ireland, and Europe’s climatic cooling were not depicted in much detail. The usual food and fuel shortages were mentioned along with transportation difficulties. The idea of using a vast collection of Biospheres to help Britain in the new ice age seems improbable.

This one had the usual problems of a mainstream suspense novelist and not a science fiction writer doing such a story. A new technological totem [biospheres were a popular topic in the 1990s] is evoked with a lack of plausibility. Moran goes for obvious political turmoil and an obvious romance.

Still, I did like certain elements.

Some of the set piece scenes like the sinking of QE Three in a volcanic eruption and, particularly, (and most inventively) the ripping open of the Chunnel with the bottom of an iceberg were well done.

The scientific premise was pretty well done and intriguing – the northern portion of the Mid-Atlantic spreading zone overlies a hot spot and rising undersea volcanoes there direct the jet stream from England and Europe. I have no idea if this is based in fact. [In retrospect, I’m doubtful given the high specific heat value of water.]

However, I thought the use of laser drills technologically improbable in the story’s context. I suspect Moran thought he could just get by with as an adjective.

While I thought Seamus MacTiege was underdeveloped and no reason given for the epithet “fascist” given him by other characters (other than the usual Labor tendency of silly economic ideas and central control), at least he wasn’t a conventional monomaniac. Just a power obsessed misanthrope.

I liked best the Irish-English tensions which lead to war and the story elements around them: a devastating nuclear accident at Windscale with fallout that drifts over to Ireland, the ex-nun who becomes Ireland’s Prime Minister, the Irish spy on the ice-locked ship, and the intrigue with the IRA. However, I found it improbable that the IRA would meekly surrender at novel’s end.


More reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.

3 thoughts on “The Empire of Ice

  1. Lilyn G February 1, 2018 / 9:52 pm

    I think I will be giving this a pass. Good review.

    • marzaat February 1, 2018 / 10:14 pm

      There are certainly better new ice age books out there.

  2. George Kelley February 2, 2018 / 9:23 am

    Here’s the output of Richard Moran:
    Empire Of Ice series:
    1 The Empire of Ice (1994)
    2 Earth Winter (1995)
    SF Novels
    Cold Sea Rising (1986)
    Dallas Down (1988)

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