Snowpiercer takes the end of the world and puts it on a train. It’s a hell of an elevator pitch, akin to the famous “Die Hard on a bus” line that got people to line up to see Speed in 1994.
Originally published in that not-inconsequential year of 1984, the French series Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette has since been adapted into a well-regarded film by Parasite director Bong Joon-ho and a TV series starring Jennifer Connelly and Daveed Diggs.
Everything you need to know about the story is in the opening line: “Across the white immensity of an eternal winter, from one end of the frozen planet to the other, there travels a train that never stops.” It’s the kind of opening that not only hooks the reader, it impales them. This is a ride you’ll want to take. Right up front, we’re presented with the facts of the train: it is 1,001 carriages long, and those carriages represent a strict social hierarchy, and there are armed guards everywhere.
Lob and Rochette quickly put us on the train, giving a sense not just of its enormity, but of the close quarters as well. Each scene is either in a corridor or a cabin with characters pushed up against one another for comfort, to threaten, or merely out of necessity. It's a horrifying scenario, one whose relevance has grown in proportion to the growing class divide around the world.