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    China Mieville

    I have recently finished "The City and The City" which is a book I had been meaning to read for ages. It's quite frankly an astonishing piece of writing. Not because of any literary aspirations - it is, at heart, a police thriller - but because of the layers and the creativity and impressiveness of the achievement. It's set in a city which is divided - the blurb and the intro in the copy I read compared this to Jerusalem or Berlin - but neither of those comparisons do it justice (I certainly enjoyed it more once I had stopped trying to mentally fit it into Jerusalem). The two cities exist in the same space, with some streets being part of one, some part of the other and others "cross hatched" in which both cities exist simultaneously, and in which residents become trained from an early age to "unsee" the other. Into this fascinating world a murder investigation starts, spanning both cities. It manages to be a murder mystery, a sci fi novel and and a thought provoking discussion on otherness all at once. I heartily recommend it.

    The only other Mieville novel I've read is Perdido Street Station, which was good, and did a good job of examining a certain moral question (which I can't reveal without spoilering it really) , but it was a bit too sci fi for my personal taste. Not sure where I should go next with him. Anyone else a fan?
    Last edited by ad hoc; 15-05-2019, 12:28.

    #2
    Have read both of the ones you mention above, I'd also say The City and The City is a good read indeed (the murder mystery element was a bit predictable but I liked the concept of the two cities, and the execution). The TV adaptation wasn't the best though (not because of the expected difficulties in depicting the 'cross hatching', but because the way Beszel was presented didn't really work well for me. Bit cheesy. And Ul Qoma always made me think of somewhere like Baku, and on screen they stuck a load of Georgian script everywhere to make it look sufficiently 'other') . Think it's on iPlayer if you want to have a look.

    His work tends more toward the Perdido Street Station style, so you might not get on as well with his other books. Kraken would be the one I'd recommend picking up next.

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      #3
      Iíve also read both of them and really enjoyed The City and The City, whilst finding Perdido Street Station a bit of a slog. Also agree the recentish BBC adaptation wasnít very satisfying. Not sure Iíll bother with any others for a while.

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        #4
        Only read The City And The City, which I loved, so I can't really assist. On the TV adaptation, I thought it handled the cross hatching and unseeing parts surprisingly well. It was let down by the introduction of a new character to give the protagonist totally unnecessary motivation.

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          #5
          His latest book is a history of the Russian Revolution that's supposed to be excellent.

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            #6
            It is, though I haven't read it since before Christmas (stuck around a third of the way in). Fault is with me and life getting in the way, it's extremely readable. Certainly cured me of my affections for Kerensky.

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              #7
              I've read all of his, enjoyed most.

              I get why Perdido Street Station can be a big of a slog. The sequels - The Scar (machinations of a floating pirate city) and Iron Council (revolutionaries flee, then battle to return by train to reclaim the city) - are better, and tighter on plot.

              Kraken is as via vicaria says probably the closest to The City & The City.

              Embassytown is hard sci-fi, and goes deep into language and semiotics to the degree it can be hard going.

              His novellas are decent, but felt like short stories stretched too far. The Last Days of New Paris has a great concept though - Resistance fighters detonated a surrealism bomb in 1940s Paris, and twenty years later the ruined city is still fought over by the Resistance, Nazi survivors, and the monstrous living embodiments of surrealist artworks.

              He's also written a couple of short story collections (some good individual stories), and a couple of YA novels - Un Lun Dun (another Neverwhere, dialled up to eleven and illustrated) and Railsea (a very enjoyable retelling of Moby Dick, but in a world where the seas are rails, and people hunt giant moles from trains).

              October is a very readable history. His next book is non-fiction too - A Spectre Haunting Europe, a history of the Communist Manifesto.

              Oddly I've gone off him a bit since accusations on his behaviour were made by another writer - although I've no idea if they are true.

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                #8
                I've only read October, really enjoyed it, though wish I had read a physical copy rather than a Kindle version...too many names to try to refer back to.

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                  #9
                  I loved The City and The City, but that's all I've read. While the writing really didn't feel that good, the idea and vision were wonderful. I've not gone elsewhere with his work because I'm not convinced that the feat of imagination would be repeated, and I'm worried that I'd end up reading a book of average vision with average writing.

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