What I remember from the novel:

The protagonist somehow gets transported to a different planet (I thought into some smaller object that happens to have a world in it). He starts out on ice where he has to be saved by the natives from the encroaching fire (natives have sleds to stay ahead of the fire). As the protagonist moves farther away from the fire, the land becomes warmer and greener and the civilizations more stable. Alternative world seems to have mainly medieval technology.

The song "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash was quoted more than once in the book. I think I read it quite a while ago (before 2000) from a library so I'm thinking the book is probably written in the 80s or earlier, but I might be wrong.

  • 2
    Not the right book, but this theme (a world-circling flame) appears in Iain M. Banks' "The Player of Games" – Valorum Apr 7 '15 at 8:48
  • Any memories or images of the book's cover? – nine9 Apr 7 '15 at 11:03
  • @nine9: Sorry to disappoint you, but no. I tend to not remember much about covers of books I've read. – HSquirrel Apr 7 '15 at 12:22

The fire and ice stuck me as incongruous, then I remembered "Catch the Sun", a short story by Barry Longyear that I read many years ago in his book of short stories "It Came from Schenectady", published in 2001, and originally published in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, November 1980.

Space travellers encounter low-tech nomads living on a slowly rotating planet. The tribe moves constantly towards the sun, staying in the narrow band of habitable temperatures between the sunny side and the dark side. As I recall, someone falls behind and is rescued from the ice that endlessly chases them.

They also discover a second band living on the other side, constantly running from the sun, which ignites the world behind them. I don't recall Johnny Cash references, but if I can find it I'll check. It's in a box somewhere...

  • Thanks for your answer. I'm not sure it is this one (I thought it was a full length novel), but I'm going to check it anyways. I also thought there were multiple habitable places as it wasn't caused by the sun, but there was just an actual ring of fire. On the bright side, you did remind me of some book I read as a child that took place on mercury where they had to stay in a short habitable zone (it's a dutch-only book: 400 graden in de schaduw / werelden van vuur en ijs). So thanks for that! :D – HSquirrel Apr 9 '15 at 7:21

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