By Richard C.
Even with summer waning, winter is coming has become a popular phrase, what with the ice-cold specter of death and desolation hovering over the latest installments of A SoIaF. Eagerly awaiting the release of Winds of Winter, know that the coldest season has long snowed up the pages of sci/fi, pages buried deeply in ice ages and harsh glacial landscapes, where the stark realities of winter are made utterly manifest on the struggling. I love struggle in sci/fi, and while winter may be merely coming for some, winter is here at your frozen fingertips below:
1) Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton. Just as an spreading ice age storms the edges of Villjamur, so too the swarms of refugees desperately circle the ancient city walls. Jamur Rika is now queen of Villjamur, and with a nonhuman ally she seeks to steer her kingdom through threats both within and coming fast from far beyond. I’m a sucker for setting in sci/fi, and had to keep my coffee close reading this one so my hands wouldn’t freeze.
2) Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson. Having colonized and terraformed the red planet in his Mars trilogy, Robinson now turns his eye back to when humans carved out survival on pre-historical Earth. Loon is a young loner just returned from his Wander, a rite of passage weathered naked and alone before one can join the clan. The demands of clan politics, the special role of shamans in society, and the pull of sexual interest pull Loon in conflicting directions.
3) At Winter’s End by Robert Silverberg. Winter is slowly retracting its millennia-long grip from the faces of Earth. With global temperatures barely rising, Koshmar and Torlyri lead a community of survivors from their hidden tunnels onto a still unforgiving landscape. Facing threats from unexpected foes, the two discover that long held customs die as hard and fast as humans. But who are the humans in these frosty pages? Ski through this one and follow up with the sequel in The Queen of Springtime.
4) Winterworld by Chuck Dixon and Jorge Zaffino. The bleak and bitter cold has sucked the color right off the pages in this one. When I read graphic novels I pretend I’m animating the panels with my eyes, and artist Jorge Zaffino expertly captures the desolation of post-apocalyptic winter like a black and white movie in your mind. Scully and Wynn are two scavengers and unlikely partners on a journey of search and survival. But even if the plot doesn’t blow you away, the ink-work is superb enough to leave a nice layer of frost on your imagination’s front windshield. Scrape it off through book one and find the sequel, Wintersea, already included in the library’s edition.