Fram is the story of Oscar, a minor bureaucrat in the US government's Bureau of Ice Prognostication, an agency created to compete with the Soviets during the heyday of the Cold War and still operating in the present without the public's knowledge.Read more...
Fram is the story of Oscar, a minor bureaucrat in the US government's Bureau of Ice Prognostication, an agency created to compete with the Soviets during the heyday of the Cold War and still operating in the present without the public's knowledge. Oscar and his partner Alexi are tasked with inventing discoveries and settlements in the Arctic, then creating the paperwork and digital records to "prove" their existence, preventing the inconvenience and expense of actual exploration. The job is the closest Oscar has come to his boyhood dream of being a polar explorer, until he and Alexi are sent on a secret mission to the actual Arctic, which brings them into a mysterious tangle of rival agencies and espionage that grows more dangerous the farther north they travel. The trip also allows Oscar to reconnect with his wife, Julia, from whom he's grown alienated by years of lying about what he does for a living (a distance compounded by Julia's own secret government job), leading both of them to discover what can be lost if we let one part of ourselves--or one part of a story--distract us from everything else the world offers.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-12-22
- Reviewer: Staff
This mordant, funny novel from Himmer (The Bee-Loud Glade) pokes fun at modern American government. Oscar has worked for the Bureau of Ice Prognostication (BIP), a secret “basement” federal agency in Washington, D.C., for 10 years. He downplays his position of prognosticator as “pretty dull stuff” to discourage any questions about it, even from his wife, Julia, from whom he is drifting apart. When Oscar’s fiery boss, Director Lenz, dispatches him on an assignment to BIP’s Northern Branch in the Arctic, a lifelong fantasy becomes reality. Oscar obsesses over the annals of Arctic explorers, what Julia calls his “polar fever.” He keeps a reference set of National Geographic magazines on hand and studies the exploits of the Norwegian polar adventurer Fritjof Nansen and his ship the Fram, designed to reach the North Pole on a drifting pack ice. While on the eventful journey north, Oscar learns that other shadowy interests believe he knows the location of valuable uranium deposits, which he denies. He feels as if he’s entered a game of “international intrigue and espionage” while he tries to stay in touch with Julia. Himmer’s story is fun and exhilarating, especially as it heads toward its heroic climax. (Feb.)