“Ice Trilogy”: Metaphysical masterpiece or empty myth?

A huge, frozen meteorite crashes into Siberia. Our hero, young Snegirev, is mysteriously drawn towards it on a geological expedition and becomes the first of the 23,000 Children of Light to awaken and realize his destiny. He and the rest of the blue-eyed, fair-haired brotherhood are really “Light-bearing rays.” Endlessly reincarnated, they have become prisoners on Earth, the planet that was “Light’s great mistake”, violating the harmony of the cosmos. The mission for Bro (Snegirev’s new light-name) is to find and assemble the other 22,999 brothers and sisters in order to dissolve the Earth back into Primordial Light.



This is the premise of Vladimir Sorokin’s bizarre “Ice Trilogy,” now a three-novel tome in English. The author is a controversial figure: Soviet authorities banned his satirical books and state prosecutors (encouraged by a pro-Putin youth group) once tried to prosecute him for disseminating pornography; the pornographic material in question was the writer’s own work.  But Sorokin has gone on to win several awards and become a major cultural figure. “Ice Trilogy” is an ambitious and extravagant work but its metaphysical and mythological pretensions sometimes seem a little hollow.

Awakening the rest of the “Ice Trilogy” Light-gang involves smashing each of them very hard on the chest with an ice hammer. When the brotherhood loses the ability to recognize fellow children of light, they resort to whacking every blue-eyed, blond-haired person in the hope of finding “one of ours.” The resulting corpses are discarded as “empties.”

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