Sequel to Kasai's Ice Song (2009), mystical science fiction set in a world dominated by rapacious, amoral Tirai Industries, where many humans—the somatics—have an admixture of animal genes.
Submarine engineer Sorykah Morigi, secretly a Trader—one who shifts unpredictably between separate female and male bodies and personalities—destroyed the evil Matuk, head of TI. Now Chen, Matuk's vicious son, invents and deploys new, cruelly addictive drugs. Sorykah's job was to take submarines beneath the Sigue, the southern ice continent, to drill for fossil water. Now, in a mystical twist, we learn that the gods were real and left descendants. One of them, Diabolo, slumbers inside a volcano beneath the Sigue; his venomous blood runs in the veins of "octameroons," half-squid, half-human creatures that live beneath the frigid sea, and that venom gives rise to the latest highly addictive drug which, when tattooed into the skin, gives rise to uncontrollable lust and sexual pleasure. Sorykah's male half, Soryk, has impregnated Queen Sidra, leader of the somatic resistance in the Erun Forest, and wants to stay with her even though Sidra knows that she will die giving birth. Soryk and Sorykah, with their wildly varying desires and motivations, get along no better than before. However, what with all the ice that's been abstracted by TI's submarines, Diabolo begins to awaken; the erupting volcano threatens to melt the ice and change the climate. Once again this is all intensely rendered, sexually charged and complicated by unpredictable gender switches.
A parable of our times? Perhaps. What's missing is a sense that anyone, including the author, knows where all this is headed.