I've been thinking about Ice-Nine lately. It's not because I've been re-reading Cat's Cradle, rather, disturbingly, because of what I've been observing in nature.
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, I'll paraphrase, but do please go back and read your Vonnegut to get the full flavor. Pick a compound, any compound, there are a variety of ways that the molecules can hook together like tinker-toys to form a physical object. Most people are familiar with the fact that both pencil graphite and diamonds are made of the same stuff: carbon, just arranged differently.
Let's take the most common stuff on earth: H [little 2] O. Let's call our usual understanding of ice Ice-One, and maybe water is Ice-Two, and snow is Ice-Three and so on. Further posit a hypothetical water compound, for the sake of argument, let's call it Ice-Nine. This compound stays ice at all temperatures.
The danger of Ice-Nine is that if it ever came into contact with the rest of the world's water supply (as it naturally does at the end of Cat's Cradle) it converts the whole shebang to Ice-Nine. And the end of life on earth follows. Molecular compound as virus. It's a compelling idea, though thankfully relegated to the world of science fiction.
What brought it back to the forefront of my mind was the recent snowfall. After Snowpocalypse, Snowmageddon, Snownarok, and the Maha-Snowpa, there was a couple of feet of snow on the ground here. Snow on the ground stops being what I would strictly consider "snow" after a day or two and becomes much closer to white ice that sticks around until...well, shit until the spring thaw if it's a big enough pile. Let's call it "hard snow?" Sorry, I'm not a meteorologist. I'm sure there are real terms for all this stuff.
Then something interesting happened. It snowed again, just a few inches this time. And the hard snow, when brought into contact with the new snowfall, regained the properties of snow. No, I'm not stupid. I wasn't just observing the new layer. I dug into it. I dug into a lot. The hard snow was back to regular snow throughout. Compound as virus. Interesting. Makes me concerned about the possible reality of Ice-Nine. (Though not too much.)
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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