The Core Dump

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures

[By Nic Lindh on Sunday, 17 January 2010]

Review: The City & The City

China Miéville can write.
The City & The City Cover
The City & The City cover.
Click for larger version.

China Miéville is mostly known for steampunk novels like The Scar (my review) and Perdido Street Station (my review). The City & The City sees him branching into what might be called Magical Realism Noir. Things are still plenty weird and Kafkaesque, if not quite as dark, bloody, and hopeless as his previous work.

The idea is that in Eastern Europe—probably close to the Balkans though it’s never specified precisely—exists a city that is actually two cities inhabiting the same space: Beszel and Ul Qoma. In certain areas the cities blend into each other and inhabitants have learned to “unsee” things from the “wrong” city. If a person crosses into the “wrong” city or remembers seeing what exists on the other side, that person is considered in breach. Once that happens, a shadowy entity or organization—we’re not really sure which—also called Breach takes the person away, never to be heard from again. So, it’s important to say the least to not breach.

The novel starts off with a corpse being found in Beszel, which turns out to have come from Ul Qoma. This naturally leads to some consternation.

The novel is told in first-person by a weary, hard-drinking cop right out of central casting. Which is actually not a bad thing, as it gives the reader something familiar to hold on to while Miéville constructs his settings and backstory.

The City & The City starts off slow and ponderous as Miéville builds the setting, but speeds up noticeably once all the pieces are in place, and becomes downright action-packed toward the end.

Well worth reading.


Amazon affiliate link—be a mensch.

« The State of the State

 »


Enjoy the ten latest posts!

Book roundup, part 27

Includes Hollywood Dead, Tales from the Loop, Things from the Flood, The Court of Broken Knives, and Port of Shadows.

To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle

“Cancel everything. You’re going into emergency surgery today”

Nic has a retinal tear and has his vision is saved by a laser.

Book roundup, part 26

Includes The Storm Before the Storm, White Trash, Calypso, Tell the Machine Goodnight, Prince of Fools, and Provenance.

Renewing the nerd card: Installing Ubiquiti UniFi in the house

The Internet tells Nic to install Ubiquiti gear in his house, so he does, and now he has thoughts.

The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism

Working in the pod mines

What I wish I’d known when I started podcasting.

It is impossible for a person to begin to learn what he already thinks he knows

Smell the Foam Finger

Nic starts a new podcast about—gasp!—American sports.

Book roundup, part 25

Mostly excellent non-fiction in this installment. Includes Fantasyland, The Miracle of Dunkirk, Das Reich, The Undoing Project, Waiting for the Punch, Vacationland and Points of Impact.