I read this novel about 20+ years ago, I remember the story quite well but I'm having trouble finding the title.

The novel is split into three threads; the first is people living in a society on an Earth-like planet where they are denied any identity e.g. names - husband and wife have to refer to one another as "he" and "she". They aren't supposed to show emotional connections to one another, those that do are horribly punished. They are at a low level of technology and live in the forest(?).

The second thread is a more technological society but on a planet where the surface is uninhabitable so are eking out a miserable existence in underground caves. There's a bit about an underground Running Man/Hunger Games style death match that's the main entertainment.

The third thread is set in our near future on Earth and this eventually reveals how the societies in the first two threads came to be. A TV evangelist

(secretly a psychopath)

type becomes a politician, then president of the USA before rigging his election to some kind of "world president". He convinces the world some kind of catastrophe is approaching and everyone needs to be evacuated from Earth into suspended animation in orbital stations.

He has a secret plan though that results in two lots of colonists making for a new planet, while everyone else in suspended animation around Earth is quietly killed. For some reason he sends one lot of colonists (possibly had some enemies or rivals aboard?) to the harsh planet. The other lot end up under his insane rule on the habitable planet. There's some kind of resolution that I think involved his daughter inciting a rebellion?

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    I want to say this one came up recently, within the last few months, but I'm not in the position for a deep dive.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Sep 13, 2018 at 10:13
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    Hi Nathan. Have a look at Seeking a book set underground on a hostile, volcanic colony world and see if that rings any bells. I'm wondering it it might be the same book. Sep 13, 2018 at 10:38
  • @JohnRennie: I think that's the prior one I was thinking of, but sadly no answer there yet.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Sep 13, 2018 at 11:32
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    @JohnRennie ah yes, that is definitely the same novel but a different set of details! The TV evangelist character is the clincher.
    – user22478
    Sep 14, 2018 at 2:31
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    I also remember another book this author wrote, but no name for that either. I'll make a question about that one, soon, and then we'll hopefully have the answer for both. Sep 14, 2018 at 4:26

1 Answer 1


Finally tracked this down - it's the novel "Icarus" by Roger Levy. Looks like I was completely wrong about how long ago I read this as it was released 12 years ago (2006), not 20+.

This description from Publisher's Weekly:

Initially, this impressive novel by British SF rising star Levy will fascinate but also puzzle readers. The characters are immediately intriguing, the writing vivid and tight, but how do the sections of action fit together? What does dangerous tunneling beneath the inhospitable surface of far-off planet Haven have to do with the way brutal lords control villages on the forest world Haze? And what could these distant civilizations have to do with a near-future televangelist exploiting human weakness on Earth? However, as scene follows melancholic scene, some containing disturbing violence committed on or by children, cross references begin to show that the parts are somehow related. Even as connections are revealed, it’s never safe to relax into easy assumptions about the relationships among Levy’s believably flawed, sometimes monstrous but sometimes hopeful characters as they explore the pain of alienation and the improbable miracle of isolated people coming together.


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