Ice is the middle volume of a trilogy by Vladimir Sorokin. (NYRB published Ice first, and has just now published the entire set in translation.) It tells of a weird, blonde-haired, blue-eyed brotherhood of souls who are awakened to true life after being hammered in the chest with sledges made of blocks of ice from the comet that nearly slammed into the Earth in 1908. Other humans are regarded as “empties,” empty of spiritual heart, that is, and simply die under the impact of the hammer. It’s a mix of vulgarity, pulp, sci-fi, absurd New Age fantasy, and social satire. Among the most biting passages were those that depicted the ruthlessness of Stalin’s minions among whom the Brothers and Sisters of the ice move in an effort to find the rest of their group. Can’t say I feel tempted to read the other two volumes, but this was a quick read that started off really well, and then just petered out.