cover image The Thing in the Snow

The Thing in the Snow

Sean Adams. Morrow, $27.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-325775-7

Workers try to hold onto their sanity as they maintain a desolate, snow-covered research station in Adams’s dryly funny absurdist latest (after The Heap). Each week, a remote administrator named Kay assigns a meaningless task to Hart, the on-site manager at the obsolete Northern Institute, for Hart to accomplish with his subordinates Gibbs and Cline, their employer having deemed it more cost-effective to keep the place running than to close it down. The crew spends their time testing the noisiness of doors and the stability of chairs, and doing their best to avoid Gilroy, the sole remaining researcher (according to Hart, Gilroy is the type who, when encountered, elicits “distaste [that] is not just warranted, it is the correct evolutionary response”). One day, the men spot something in the snow. The distraction annoys Hart, who views the development as a threat to his already tenuous leadership. After Gibbs reports the object to Kay, Kay replies, “if immobile, not of concern.” Consequently, the crew members become irrationally convinced that the barely perceptible object is moving. The workplace gags are effective, and as the workers turn on one another, things really take off. The strange blend of satire, mystery, and psychological thrills make for a winning combination. Agent: Kent Wolf, Neon Literary. (Jan.)