ICE SONG by Kirsten Imani Kasai


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Science fiction/fantasy hybrid, set in a world of technology and magic where many humans have an admixture of animal genes.

Engineer Sorykah Minuit works aboard one of the sexist Company's ice-drilling submarines in a menial capacity. At the end of Sorykah’s tour of duty neither nanny Nels nor her still-nursing twins Ayeda and Leander show up to meet her. Sorykah shelters from the frigid weather in a bar frequented by “somatics,” human-animal hybrids shunned by society. Sorykah's dreadful secret is that she's a Trader, one who (in her case, unpredictably) switches genders. Later, Sorykah takes refuge with opium-addicted octopus-lady Rava, from whose friends she learns—in the much weaker, dubious-logic fantasy zone—that her twins have been abducted by Matuk the Collector, a rich madman who sends his walrus-man servant Meertham out to capture unconventional individuals so he can vivisect them and derive a serum that might cure his hideously disfigured, feral daughter Radhe, who wanders the Erun Forest as the feared Wood Beast. Queen Sidra and her wolf-man consort, Carac, patrol the forest but lack the magic to penetrate Matuk's fortress. Sorykah sets off in pursuit of her twins, but stress and starvation releases her male persona, Soryk, who has few of Sorykah's memories. Complications ensue.

A debut notable for its vivid intensity, sexy passages, schizophrenic gender switches and jarring contrast between the science fiction, which works, and the fantasy, which doesn't.

Pub Date: May 19th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-345-50881-2
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2009