It’s unseasonably mild in our corner of England at the moment, but at this time of year, we’d usually be waking up to frost on the ground if not a few inches of snow. To celebrate the shortest day of winter this week, we decided we’d dig out some of the best frozen settings in sci fi and fantasy fiction. These aren’t exactly cheery festive stories, but they all share an affinity for evocative icy landscapes and deep snowdrifts.
Iced by M. Terry Green
In the far future, accelerating climate change has frozen the seas and covered the land in glaciers. Thirteen is a sailor in a ship that I imagine as a kind of skating catamaran, skimming across the ice with a constant eye out for dangerous crevasses.
The Ice Diaries by Lexi Revellian
Another climate-inspired dystopia, The Ice Diaries is set in the nearer future. Tori lives in an almost-abandoned London tower block, but her simple survivalist lifestyle is upended when she finds a mysterious cage fighter struggling through the snow.
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
The planet of Winter is an icy and inhospitable place, seen through the eyes of Genly Ai, an envoy sent to represent a peaceful federation of other planets. This is a sci fi classic with plenty of politics and philosophy, against a chilly backdrop.
Wolf Winter by Celia Ekbäck
Set in Lapland in the early 18th century, Wolf Winter is an ethereal historical fantasy which embraces the full force of a Swedish winter. A murder mystery provides the focus point for a young family struggling to make a life in the frozen mountains, in this bleak and cold tale.
The Stars Seem So Far Away by Margrét Helgadóttir
In a series of linked short stories, Helgadóttir’s imagining of the future sees the remnants of humanity on Earth pushed north towards the pole to escape the increasingly inhospitable south.