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Literature / The Ice People

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The Ice People (French: la Nuit des temps) is a 1968 French science fiction novel by Rene Barjavel.

Scientists in Antarctica discover artefacts from a lost civilization from 900000 years ago. Two living characters are found sleeping: a man and a woman. The scientists manage to wake up the woman, starting with her because the man looks injured.

She is named Éléa and tells Simon (a French scientist) many things about the civilization of Gondawa, which possessed incredibly advanced technology and ended in a terrible war against a civilization named Enisoraï. She and a scientist named Coban were selected to repopulate Earth later (they didn't predict that this part of Gondwana would move to the South Pole and become Antartica), however she hates him and would have wanted to die 900000 years ago with her lover, Païkan.


Countries from all over the world are very interested in the technologies that may be found in the Gondawan ruins (or from asking the sleeping man), this being set during the Cold War (of which it deconstructs several tropes).

The Ice People provides examples of:

  • Adam and Eve Plot: Éléa and Coban were selected to repopulate Earth after the apocalypse. Interestingly Coban was selected for his intellectual competence, while Éléa was selected for her attractiveness.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: the war between Gondawa and Enisoraï sounds quite similar to the Cold War.
  • Double Standard: See Adam and Eve Plot.
  • Human Popsicle: Éléa and her companion have slept for 900000 years.
  • Lensman Arms Race: What Gondawa and their enemies did, and also the struggle of present day nations to acquire ancient technology for themselves.
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  • Mutually Assured Destruction: The civilization of Gondawa made a weapon so powerful that it would destroy both their enemies and them. And decided to use it anyway.
  • Mysterious Antarctica: Traces of a super advanced lost civilization are found there.
  • Veganopia: The people in Gondawa enjoyed infinite artificial food. Éléa is horrified at the idea of eating meat.


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