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Oscar is a minor bureaucrat in the Bureau of Ice Prognostication, a secret government agency created during the heyday of the Cold War and still operating in the present without the public’s knowledge. 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. Fantasy becomes all too real when Oscar and his partner Alexi are sent on a secret mission to the actual Arctic, which brings them into a mysterious tangle of rival 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.