The story of chemical, ice-nine , takes up only a few pages of the book, in reality this is a book on human stupidity. It is also another anti-war book in which Vonnegut takes pot shots at religion, scientific progress, McCarthy-style anti-communism, the Cold War arms race and scientists who work in military science, American tourists abroad, petty government officialdom, Banana Republics and American foreign policy; practically anything is a target. His deadpan humour makes this a very funny book, with great insights into the human condition, despite it being a chilling account of how the Earth ends.I opened my eyes- and the sea was ice-nine.
The moist green earth was a blue-white pearl.
The sky darkened. Borasisi, the sun, became a sickly yellow ball, tiny and cruel.
The sky filled with worms. The worms were tornadoes.
â€¦There were no smells. There was no movement. Every step I took made a gravelly squeak in blue-white frost. And every squeak was echoed loudly. The season of locking was over. The Earth was locked up tight.
It was winter now and forever.
However, it came about; it is one of the great Science Fiction ideas.Kurt Vonnegut Jr. graduated from Cornell University with a major in chemistry. He worked in the public relations office at General Electric where his older brother, Bernard, was working in the lab using silver iodide particles for seeding clouds to precipitate rain and snow. Vonnegut credits the idea of ice-nine to Irving Langmuir, who pioneered the study of thin films and interfaces. Vonnegut came across a story of how Langmuir, who won the 1932 Nobel Prize for his work at General Electric, was charged with the responsibility of entertaining the author, H.G. Wells, who was visiting the company in the early 1930â€™s. Langmuir is said to have come up with an idea about a form of solid water that was stable at room temperature in the hopes that Wells might be inspired to write a story about it. Apparently, Wells was not inspired and neither he nor Langmuir ever published anything about it. After Langmuir and Wells had died, Vonnegut decided to use the idea.
Ice-nine could also be based on a science fad of the 1960â€™s called Polywater. Polywater was the focus of much serious science research and even gave rise to a sort of "Polywater arms race" with the USSR. It has since been proven to be a bunch of bunkum. There is a very good book on this called "Polywater" by Felix Franks (1982 MIT press).