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Old 05-28-2009, 12:51 PM   #1
Gideon
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Woohoo! New China Mieville Book out!

The author of one of my favorite fantasy novels ever (Perdido Street Station has a new book out - The City & The City. And it's available on the Kindle!

From the Booklist Review:
Fantasy author Miéville (Looking for Jake, 2005) puts his own unique spin on the detective story. Inspector Tyador Borlu, a lonely police detective, is assigned to the murder of a young woman found dumped in a park on the edge of Beszel, an old city, decaying and mostly forgotten, situated in an unspecified area on the southeastern fringes of Europe. But Beszel does not exist alone; it shares much of the same physical space with Ul Qoma. Each city retains a distinct culture and style, and the citizenry of both places has elaborate rules and rituals to avoid the dreaded Breach, which separates the two across space and time. This unique setting becomes one of the most important and well-developed characters in the novel, playing a pivotal role in the mystery when Tyador discovers that his murder case is much more complex than a dumped body, requiring “international” cooperation with the Ul Qoman authorities. Eschewing the preliminary world-building techniques of many fantasy books, Miéville dumps the reader straight into Tyador’s world of crosshatching and unseeing, only gradually developing and explaining his one-of-a kind setting. Suggest to readers who enjoyed Michael Chabon’s alternate-history mystery, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (2007), or to fans of the futuristic urban setting in A. L. Martinez’s Automatic Detective (2008). An excellent police procedural and a fascinating urban fantasy, this is essential reading for all mystery and fantasy fans. --Jessica Moyer
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Old 05-28-2009, 12:56 PM   #2
Gideon
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And... hopefully in a few weeks the price will come down to $9.99
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Old 05-29-2009, 12:27 AM   #3
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Having seen a lot of personally credible recommendations for Perdido Street Station, I finally got around to reading it. I remain somewhat ambivalent about it. I was enjoying Miéville's writing, and atmosphere, and created "world" and its politics but the story/plot itself left me somewhat cold and uninterested. I'm in a position where I want to read more of Miéville, but didn't feel the need to rush out and buy everything.

This is in no way meant as some kind of contradiction, Gideon (I just mention that, as sometimes people can see different subjective opinions as opposing opinions, though I doubt you will ). Any criticism I have is relative, and, for me, my ambivalence doesn't discredit in my mind China Miéville's deserved reputation. I think I'm just wanting someone to say "Oh, well, in that case, read this one - more politics/world; less monster". Coincidentally, this new book sounds like it might be a contender.

Cheers,
Marc
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Old 05-29-2009, 12:38 AM   #4
Gideon
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I've just read a few chapters - it definitely reminds me of Chabon so far. The 'strange' isn't so in your face. It's a bit more insidious but it makes you almost want to scream "AHH!! What's going on?! What's that you're talking about?!"

I think there is a very peculiar aspect to Perdido Street Station and it's not for everyone. It is easily one of the strangest bits of fantasy I've ever read, and I really did love it. For me it was nice because I don't read much fantasy anymore, I just don't enjoy most of (and to be fair, I never did. I read a lot of fantasy, but I was always very picky) and the stuff I like tends to be parts of massive series that I just don't have the patience for anymore (George R.R. Martin, for instance.) Perdido really set my sense of 'wonder' towards fiction back in place.

At the time it came out I was still designing video games and the world we were working on was so similar to the bizzare, wonderful and dark world he painted that it was absolutely uncanny.

But, it isn't for everyone. For instance... I hear Flannery O'Conner is great. The ideas of her stories sound great to me. But I cannot, for the life of me, read her work. I just can't.
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Old 05-29-2009, 04:14 AM   #5
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I remember that one of the things I liked about Perdido Street Station was its arbitrary strangeness. By that I mean that it happily threw some of the most unusual scenes and beings and spaces and communities at you, but didn't have that self-conscious "Hey, look at how different this is!" feel about it. I sometimes find that lesser fantasy can go "Oh, look, dragons/magic/fairies that are slightly different to the regular tropes. Weird, hey?". Perdido's assumption of normality and its apparent consistency and reason made falling into its universe quick, painless, even unnoticed. Quite admirable.

I'm reminded of a novel I read a very long time ago (mid-teens?) called Unquenchable Fire, by Rachel Pollack. Although the geography was our world, its "rules" of reality/beliefs/spirituality were arbitrarily different. I think the similarity is the "suburban fantasy" connection, and that immediate assumption of its universe. I never see this novel mentioned anywhere, so I very much wonder if its one of those seen-through-young-eyes opinions I retain and that it's not as good as I remember it to be (though, for the life of me, I can't remember the plot). I keep it on my shelves because it's a "keeper", and with the intent to one day reread it. I grabbed it off the shelves the other day while waiting for something, and reading the first few pages it reminded me of why I enjoyed it.

Interesting that the new one reminds you of Chabon. I very much enjoyed The Yiddish Policemen's Union. (Did we have mention of this between us once before? My memory can be quite ordinary at times).

Cheers,
Marc
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