Background and Lore

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  • evilteuton

    Trains On Ice: The French Sci-Fi Revolution

    What do the 2013 movie Snowpiercer and the 1992 game Transarctica have in common? They both come from French authors who apparently refuse to acknowledge each other.

    1980: Georges-Jean Arnaud publishes his “La Compagnie des glaces”, the first icy novel in a long series of progressively less icy novels. Only the first volume was ever translated to English (“The Ice Company”) and it seems he doesn’t much care. Arnaud spent his life writing about giant trains on ice, the polar sci-fi opposite of Dune, and seems perfectly content that only a French-speaking audience ever got to enjoy them.

    1982: Jacques Lob publishes his graphic novel “Le Transperceneige”, translated as The Snow Piercer.

    1992: Silmarils publishes Transarctica, based on The Ice Company.

    2013: Director Bong Joon-ho releases Snowpiercer, based on The Snow Piercer.

    So clearly there is some awkwardness going on, but nobody seems to discuss it openly. At least I haven’t found anything on the topic. If I had to guess, “The Ice Company” is probably too obscure due to a severe lack of translation, and so the name “Snow Piercer” got ahead.

    Transarctica: Our Story So Far

    Ice Company and Snow Piercer aside, what’s going on in the world Silmarils created? In the early 21st century, humanity put a plan into motion to fight against the effects of global warming. The idea worked a bit too well, however, and instead of plugging the ozone hole the project shut out all sunlight. The game starts in the 22nd century, although we can’t be sure that they still use our calendar. People don’t remember the sun. The sun is considered an ancient myth, and those who waste their time with it are considered fanatics and freaks. All is snow and ice. The Viking Union is the absolute top dog: rails, trains, coal, soldiers, they have it all. What people don’t know is that they also have intimate knowledge of the sun. And now they have a rebellion on their hands because a small group of sun believers has stolen the Transarctica, the most sophisticated and powerful locomotive produced by the Viking Union, just as it came out the factory.

    Time to let the sunshine in.

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