The Ice People (Barjavel novel)

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The Ice People (French: la Nuit des temps) is a 1968 French science fiction novel by René Barjavel.

Plot[edit]

Zoran's Equation

When a French expedition in Antarctica reveals the ruins of a 900,000 years old civilization, scientists from all over the world flock to the site to help explore and understand. The entire planet watches via global satellite television, mesmerized, as the explorers uncover a chamber in which a man and a woman have been in suspended animation since, as the French title suggests, "the night of time". The woman, Éléa, is awakened, and through a translating machine she tells the story of her world, herself and her man Païkan, and how war destroyed her civilization. She also hints at an incredibly advanced knowledge that her still-dormant companion possesses (who is not her love Païkan, but the scientist Coban, whom she hates), knowledge that could give energy and food to all humans at no cost. But the superpowers of the world are not ready to let Éléa's secrets spread, and show that, 900,000 years and an apocalypse later, mankind has not grown up and is ready to make the same mistakes again.

"Ils sont là ! Ils sont nous ! Ils ont repeuplé le monde, et ils sont aussi cons qu'avant, et prêts à faire de nouveau sauter la baraque. C'est pas beau, ça ? C'est l'homme !"
"They're here! They're us! They repopulated the world, and they're just as dumb as before, and ready to blow up the house again. Isn't it great? It's man."

Publication[edit]

This novel was first published in 1968 by les Presses de la Cité.

It was translated into English by C. L. Markham and a number of companies published The Ice People in the early 1970s.

Also translated into Afrikaans by Rina Scheiflinger (1971) as "Nag van die tyd" (the Night of time). [1]

Inspiration[edit]

The novel appears to have been inspired by one of the last groundbreaking works of Henry Rider Haggard, When the World Shook (1919). There are several similarities between the stories: a couple that is found in suspended animation with both, female and male, being survivors of ancient lost civilizations that possessed great technological advancements superior to the current stage of our world [2] Both novels fit within the literary genre of Lost World stories.

Erle Cox's 1925 novel Out of the Silence has also been cited as a possible influence on Barjavel.[3] Cox' story also deals with the discovery of a sphere preserving the knowledge of a vanished, prehistoric civilization with advanced technology, one man and one woman being preserved in suspended animation; the woman alone is awakened, but dies at the end of the story; the knowledge of the ancient civilization is lost.

Barjavel was also writing in the context of political unrest, especially among the youth of France, that led to mass protests that year similar to those depicted in the novel, see Protests of 1968 and May 1968 in France.

The novel also draws on myths such as the Sleeping Beauty, and the love that lasts beyond death, as in the legend of Tristan and Iseult.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]