A Rainbow of a Read: a Review of "Rings of Ice"

 


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No one does it quite like Piers Anthony. From fluffy fantasy to mature-themed science fiction, Piers Anthony is a master of the genre in all its varied shapes and forms. Even his lesser known work, such as “Rings of Ice" should not be missed.

"Rings of Ice" was first copyrighted in 1974, though I read it for the first time, probably ten years later. As a teenager with a penchant for apocalyptic fiction, “Rings of Ice" was a gem I discovered while mining the shelves of our local no-frills book shop. Books were stacked haphazardly on makeshift wooden shelves, no alphabetization and little to no genre breakdown, so it was amazing, actually, that “Rings of Ice" found its way into my hands and into my heart.

I've since read Piers Anthony's “Rings of Ice" easily half a dozen times, and though I know each and every twist of the plot by heart, it reads just as well the sixth time as it does the first. More importantly, it reads as well to me at age 32 as it did at age 15.

"Rings of Ice" is the story of a world gone awry. Well-intentioned, albeit misguided scientists, while trying to supply the world with limitless energy, manage to set off a chain of events that will lead to the end of the world as we know it. And in Piers Anthony's world, the end will come in a torrent of rain.

Zena, a meteorologist with classified insight into this monstrous dilemma is attempting to hitch a ride to higher ground and possible salvation. She is picked up by Gus and Thatch, an odd couple if ever there was one. Despite their individual shortcomings, Thatch and Gus have a perfect symbiosis going, and while most of the world attempts to wait out the torrential rains in ignorance, Gus and Thatch have a plan for survival.

"Rings of Ice" is a masterpiece of speculative fiction. With a remarkable economy of words, he manages to create a nightmare world of rain, floods, and a humanity struggling to survive at all costs. Vivid in detail, this is a world you will remember each time you look out the window at the falling rain.

But world-building aside, in “Rings of Ice", Piers Anthony brings to us a remarkably human saga. Along the way, Gus, Thatch, and Zena pick up a motley assortment of characters. There is Floy, an awkward girl-woman and her cat, Dust Devil - both less a liability than they at first seem. There is Gordon/Gloria, a hat-pin wielding cross dresser - and there is Karen, a diabetic who will use whatever means she has to survive.

And though these characters are, each in their own way, extraordinarily bizarre, with Anthony's skilled execution, the reader will never bat an eye. In fact, the very humanity of these characters will reach out and touch you. They will stay with you long after the novel's conclusion, as will the unlikely love story at its core.

"Rings of Ice" does not have one disappointing page. Though at times heartbreaking in its honesty, “Rings of Ice" brings to life a breathtaking journey into the unknown future - maybe our own unknown future.

Lisa is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Poetry Contests .

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