The ZONE genre worldwide books movies
the science fiction
fantasy horror &
mystery website
 
 
home  articles  profiles  interviews  essays  books  movies  competitions  guidelines  issues  links  archives  contributors  email

The Snow
Adam Roberts
Gollancz paperback £10.99

review by Jonathan McCalmont

The Snow is Roberts' fifth book and boasts something of a 'high concept', namely that one day it starts snowing and the snow doesn't stop. Soon the streets disappear, then the buildings, and finally the mountains. Roberts follows Tira from her flat in southeast London to the cities built on the snow by American survivors.

The plot has a neat three-act structure; first we see Tira's London and her attempts to survive in the snow, then we see Tira trying to fit into the new post-Snow world and finally we have Tira understanding the causes of the snow. Roberts uses this simple structure to explore two sets of ideas. Firstly, there's the exploration of what the world would be like if it didn't stop snowing. Roberts suggests a world where the only remaining power structure is the American military. He considers the conservatism of such an organisation and throws in the spectre of terrorism as the remaining human settlements come under attack at the end of the second act.

Secondly, Roberts explores the validity of the first-person perspective, used by so many genre authors in their attempts to portray the strangeness of a new world. Tira's story is repeatedly called into question both by the fact that her memories conflict with the memories of other characters but also by virtue of the fact that Tira's story is used as part of government propaganda and marketing.

These two sets of ideas come together in the third act as the cause of the terrorist actions reveals itself in a reality-bending way as Roberts considers the links between politics, memory and delusion as the whole house of cards comes tumbling down (or does it? The end suggests that Tira's version of the conclusion is no more valid than the rest of her story). Roberts' style is clear, concise, well constructed and a joy to read but despite the many nice touches in this book, overall it fails to completely convince.

The conclusion is somewhat predictable and retreads territory that was well mapped out even in the days of Philip K. Dick. The characterisation of the Americans and their society is also questionable as they come across as slightly tired clichés of up-tight authoritarian American conservatism. Roberts might answer that these are Tira's perceptions but such an excuse smacks of laziness and is too easy. Similarly one might argue that the disappearance of America beneath the Snow has forced them to become walking parodies, but Roberts does not make this argument.

Overall, The Snow is a nice twist on the post-apocalyptic story but fails to live up to the promise of its high concept. Many of the ideas explored will be familiar to sci-fi fans and as such one feels that besides the new way for the world to end, Roberts doesn't have much to say. However, Roberts' skill as a writer means that the pages zip by and one is never bored by the story despite the familiar themes.
The Snow by Adam Roberts

Please support this
website - buy stuff
using these links:
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com
Send It
HK Flix
WH Smith
Argos.co.uk

home  articles  profiles  interviews  essays  books  movies  competitions  guidelines  issues  links  archives  contributors  email
copyright © 2001 - 2004 Pigasus Press