We Who Survived (The Fifth Ice Age)

It’s been as while since we’ve had any good ol’ ‘Merican science fiction. This author is best known for his novel I Killed Stalin.

A few months back, daytime subzero (that’s subzero Fahrenheit) temperatures descended on my part of the world for a week. That means, as per my personal tradition, it’s time to read something appropriately frosty. However, the personal library had no ice age catastrophe novels or polar exploration works I hadn’t read, so, after a few minutes research online, I came up with this novel which I had never heard of before.

Review: We Who Survived (The Fifth Ice Age), Sterling Noel, 1959, 2012. 

This is different than any other future ice age disaster novels I’ve read. 

First, it compresses the action. There is no slow buildup and figuring out the cause of the ice age.  The book – and the snow – begins on a Saturday in September 2203, and the cause has been figured out by Gabe Harrow, a world expert in climate: earth will pass through the debris of a nova. Reduced solar radiation will result in snow falling for a 72-year long period. Already, by the book’s opening, it’s been 27 days of rain and unseasonably cold temperatures.

Secondly, most of the usual expected scenes of mass death and chaos are restricted (but still dramatically rendered) to summaries of radio and tv broadcasts. That is particularly true of the massive storms that are predicted to begin the newest glaciation of Earth and to last about a year and devastate coastal areas. 

The story is presented as an account by narrator Victor Savage, formerly a missileman assigned to an orbital platform, with some notes from Harrow. The Harrow Group is formed to shelter in place at a farm near Fallon, Kansans and, after the storms die down, travel to the Atlantic Coast and, eventually, to the equatorial regions. Harrow’s prediction of a very long-term glaciation is ignored by the government. (I suspect, like the ENLAV in Fenton Wood’s Nightland Racer, it was inspired by the “legendary” design of a proposed Antarctic Snow Cruiser.) 

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