In an environmentally fragile world where human and animal genes combine, the rarest mutation of all—the Trader—can instantly switch genders. One such Trader, the female Sorykah, is battling her male alter, Soryk, for dominance and the right to live a full life.
Sorykah has rescued her infant twins from mad Matuk the Collector. Her children are safe. Her journey, she believes, is over, but Matuk’s death has unleashed darker, more evil forces. These forces, led by the Collector’s son, cast nets of power that stretch from the glittering capital of Neubonne to the murky depths below the frozen Sigue, where the ink of octameroons is harvested to make addictive, aphrodisiacal tattoos. Bitter enemies trapped within a single skin, Sorykah and Soryk are soon drawn into a sinister web of death and deceit.
“Reminiscent of Ursula Le Guin’s paradigm-shattering The Left Hand of Darkness, this piercingly moving story belongs in most fantasy collections.”—Library Journal
There are secrets beneath her skin.
Sorykah Minuit is a scholar, an engineer, and the sole woman aboard an ice-drilling submarine in the frozen land of the Sigue. What no one knows is that she is also a Trader: one who can switch genders suddenly, a rare corporeal deviance universally met with fascination and superstition and all too often punished by harassment or death.
Sorykah’s infant twins, Leander and Ayeda, have inherited their mother’s Trader genes. When a wealthy, reclusive madman known as the Collector abducts the babies to use in his dreadful experiments, Sorykah and her male alter-ego, Soryk, must cross icy wastes and a primeval forest to get them back. Complicating the dangerous journey is the fact that Sorykah and Soryk do not share memories: Each disorienting transformation is like awakening with a jolt from a deep and dreamless sleep.
The world through which the alternating lives of Sorykah and Soryk travel is both familiar and surreal. Environmental degradation and genetic mutation run amok; humans have been distorted into animals and animal bodies cloak a wild humanity. But it is also a world of unexpected beauty and wonder, where kindness and love endure amid the ruins. Alluring, intense, and gorgeously rendered, Ice Song is a remarkable debut by a fiercely original new writer.
Praise for Ice Song
“A stunning debut fantasy about love and the ties of blood.”—Armchair Interviews
“Kasai’s debut is a boldly adventurous tale depicting a richly detailed world. The aspect of Traders shifting gender brings Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness to mind, while the activities on Chen’s island are more reminiscent of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Meredith Gentry novels.”—Booklist
“Ice Song is definitely a compelling read, largely due to the fact that Sorykah is such a well-developed character. She has an equally intense and complex sense of love and resentment for her children. And the fact that she exists between the world of humans and the mutants is also a source of conflict for her character . . . Ice Song is a near-perfect combination of fantasy, great storytelling and social commentary.”—Philadelphia Gay News