Twenty-five years ago there was a great interplanetary war in the Solar System. It was a suicidal spasm in which terrible weapons were created and used; in which nine billion people were killed. The rivalries that led to the war are not gone. And a few of those deadly weapons remain – some still orbiting the sun in the debris of destroyed ships, some deliberately placed in storage.
Now Cyrus Mobarak, the man who perfected the fusion engine, is determined to bring human settlement to the protected seas of Europa. Opposing him is Hilda Brandt, Europe’s administrator. And caught between them are three remarkable young people: Jon Perry, Camille Hamilton, and Wilsa Sheer.
A Viking temple. A Viking ship. Both preserved in the clinging, black mud of the North Yorkshire estuary. Press and TV watch over the archaeologists’ shoulders as past and present merge.
And while huge, death-cold creatures stalk and destroy through the blizzards of an eerily early winter, modern computer science and the dark night-knowledge of the old Norse gods disinter a terrible truth about a past that is sleeping, not dead.
The world lay frozen under a thousand feet of ice. Only in the Eight Cities of the Matto Grosso did men still live, hunting the wary ice whales for meat and oil, and following the creed of the Ice Mother which foretold the end of all life in ultimate cold.
But legend told of a city far to the north – fabled New York – whose towers rose above the ice, whose crypts held the forgotten lore that might bring warmth to Earth once again. In the best ice ship in the Eight Cities, Konrad Arflane embarked on the impossible voyable to New York – an odyssey of incredible peril and adventure with a shattering discovery at the journey’s end…
Killed by the power of the god Zezeth, his true father, Lionwolf has been cast into a bleak and icy hell lit just by a cold blue sun. Here he and others of the living dead must wage endless combat and war, to appease the whim of a deathly King whose face is made of stone. But when Lionwolf encounters the King’s wife, she is none other than the beautiful, god-fashioned Chillel, his own former lover – and nemesis.
As Lionwolf struggles in the toils of Hell, elsewhere in the hell-cold ice-age of the mortal earth, men and women work out their own destinies. An empire has fallen. Ru Karismi, Capital of the Kings, has been abandoned to the poisons of the White Death. Reivers cross the lands of the Jafn and the Ruk, preying wherever they wish.
Against this unsettled backdrop, Jemhara the sorceress determines to save the Magician Thryfe from a dire self-inflicted punishment, and Saphay, now a goddess of the far north, seeks to lead her people to a new world.
Yet Seseth’s violent hadred shadows all – and from the depths of an ice-locked sea his other terrifying son, the mountainous whale-leviathan Brightshade, is once more rising for vengeance…
Physicist and writer Charles Sheffield very quickly built a reputation for imaginative, cleverly-plotted hard SF. In his second novel he posited the concept of a space elevator simultaneously to – but independent of – Arthur C. Clarke. This omnibus contains three of his finest works: debut novel, SIGHT OF PROTEUS; planetary romance, SUMMERTIDE; and space opera, COLD AS ICE.
The strange thing about THE END was that nobody expected it…
The pessimists had been wrong. No atomic war. No nuclear destruction. No fall out. No radioactivity. Disarmament had brought universal peace and sanity. Co-existence had become a reality – not an idealist’s dream.
Then disaster struck. The desperate weather forecasts were the beginning. The ice was The End.
Seas became frozen wastes. Rivers turned to glaciers overnight. The whole planet was in the grip of a cold so intense that millions perished in a few hours… millions more died within the week.
Only the bravest and the hardiest survived. Rugged men and courageous women, with the spirits of the earliest pioneers, urging them on to do the impossible.
Was the big freeze just a cosmic accident – with man on the unlucky end? Had one of the big powers tried to master weather control, secretly, despite the disarmament talks… and failed disastrously.
Perhaps it was the prelude to alien invasion?