Ice (Dukaj novel)

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Lod (cover).jpg
Polish edition cover.
AuthorJacek Dukaj
Original titleLód
Translatornot translated
Cover artistTomasz Bagiński
Genrescience fiction/alternate history
PublisherWydawnictwo Literackie
Publication date

Ice (Polish: Lód) is a Janusz A. Zajdel, European Union Prize for Literature and Kościelski awards-winning novel written in 2007 by the Polish science fiction writer Jacek Dukaj, published in Poland by Wydawnictwo Literackie. The novel mixes alternate history with science fiction elements, in particular, with alternative physics and logic.

English language rights to Ice have been acquired by London-based publisher Head of Zeus in 2017. The publication date will be announced once the novel is translated.[1]


The story of the book takes place in an alternate universe where the First World War never occurred and Poland is still under Russian rule. Following the Tunguska event, the Ice, a mysterious form of matter, has covered parts of Siberia in Russia and started expanding outwards, reaching Warsaw. The appearance of Ice results in extreme decrease of temperature, putting the whole continent under constant winter, and is accompanied by Lute, angels of Frost, a strange form of being which seems to be a native inhabitant of Ice. Under the influence of the Ice, iron turns into zimnazo (cold iron), a material with extraordinary physical properties, which results in the creation of a new branch of industry, zimnazo mining and processing, giving birth to large fortunes and new industrial empires. Moreover, the Ice freezes History and Philosophy, preserving the old political regime, affecting human psychology and changing the laws of logic from many-valued logic of "Summer" to two-valued logic of "Winter" with no intermediate steps between True and False.

Dukaj noted[2] that in this book, science in science-fiction stands for the philosophy of history.


The protagonist of the novel is Benedykt Gierosławski, a Polish mathematician and notorious gambler, collaborating with Alfred Tarski on his work on many-valued logics. The Ministry of Winter's officials visit Gierosławski and make him embark on a Transsiberian journey to find his lost father, who is said to be able to communicate with Lute. During his journey Gieroslawski finds out that he is caught in a political intrigue, brought about by rivalry between two palace factions, liedniacy (conservatives and Siberian entrepreneurs backing the idea of "frozen Russia") and ottiepelnicy (mostly revolutionaries aiming for a literal and political "thaw"), supported also by the Tsar. He also meets Nikola Tesla in disguise, who has conceived a technology for manipulating and eventually destroying the Ice and has been hired by the Tsar to relieve Russia from the Winter. During the journey and upon his arrival in Irkutsk Gierosławski discovers that various political forces, including Followers of St. Marcyn, a sect worshiping the Ice led by Rasputin, followers of Nikolai Fyodorovich Fyodorov, who strive for assuring human immortality, and Siberian industrial potentates, are interested in his person and that Józef Piłsudski, in this reality leading a group of Sybiraks and Siberian separatists fighting for Polish independence, may possess knowledge about his father.

Critical reception[edit]

Lód was planned as a short story for Król bólu anthology, but has grown into an epic-length novel. The book, counting over 1,000 pages, was published in early December 2007 (samples were released in October issue of Nowa Fantastyka). It had been long-awaited by fans, as Dukaj's previous book - Perfect Imperfection - was published in 2004. Around the time of book's premier, Dukaj was interviewed by Radio Kraków[3] (one of Polish local radio stations) and by TOK FM[2] (another Polish radio station). In December 2007, the book received the honorary prize at the Poznań Review of New Publications and was named "Book of Autumn 2007" organized by Raczyński Library in Poznań.[4]

In his review[5] Wojciech Orliński writes that unlike many previous books by Dukaj, this one has excellent action, and names it a "sensational novel par excellence", and compares it to books by Ludlum (albeit in the science-fiction, alternate history genre). Maciej Lewandowski [6] writes that it features "an incredibly interesting plot, full of amorous and political intrigues, presenting readers the remote world of the twentieth century history, the history that never happened".


  1. ^ "ICE: 1000-page Polish Science Fiction Masterpiece to HoZ". Head of Zeus. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  2. ^ a b Discussion by Przemysław Czapliński, Paweł Dunin-Wąsowicz, Roman Kurkiewicz and Jacek Dukaj, Pod Tytułem, program o książkach i czytaniu, 9 December 2007, TOK FM, Listen here
  3. ^ Jacek Dukaj interviewed by Marcin Baniak, Radio Kraków, Tam i z powrotem, 29 November 2007, Listen here
  4. ^ Review of New Publication page at the Raczyński library
  5. ^ Wojciech Orliński, Dukaj, Jacek: Lód (review), Gazeta Wyborcza, 3 December 2007
  6. ^ Lewandowski, New Year reads - Poland: Jacek Dukaj, Lód,, 18 December 2007


External links[edit]