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3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,254 Ratings  ·  1,126 Reviews
On board the moletrain Medes, Sham Yes ap Soorap watches in awe as he witnesses his first moldywarpe hunt: the giant mole bursting from the earth, the harpoonists targeting their prey, the battle resulting in one’s death and the other’s glory. But no matter how spectacular it is, Sham can't shake the sense that there is more to life than traveling the endless rails of the ...more
Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Published May 15th 2012 by Del Rey (first published January 1st 2012)
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Jul 06, 2012 Nataliya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nataliya by: Kim Lomman, Catie
Thank you, China Miéville. Thank you. Thank you!

In the last week & a half, full of 14-hour work days, lack of sleep, physical & mental exhaustion & near-constant feeling of overwhelmed inadequacy CM provided me with the sanctuary of a few precious hours when none of that mattered, when I was completely under the spell of this weirdly fascinating, ridiculous but engrossing universe, when I felt that Miéville's boundless imagination has given me a safe haven where I could breathe fr
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More & more, when it comes to China Mieville, for me, it's lurrvve lurve LURVE! I'm starting to get to the point where I miss his 'voice' when I'm not busy reading a Miéville...

In this amusing and inventive coming-of-age story, Miéville pulls out all the Postmodernist stops & creates a work that is at the same time immediate, as it is highly allusive & metafictional.

Some of the characteristics of Pomo fiction
Dan Schwent
Urged on by his guardian cousins, young Sham Yes ap Soorap gets apprenticed to a doctor on a moletrain, riding the Railsea in search of moldywarpe, giant moles hunted for food. Captain Naphi of the Medes, the train Sham sails aboard, is obsessed with Mocker Jack, the biggest moldywarpe of them all, & will do anything to find her prey...

Remember that game you used to play when you were a kid, when the living room floor was either molten lava or shark-infested waters, & you had to leap fro
May 14, 2012 j rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Leave it to China Miéville to write a young adult novel and so obfuscate his intentions (via complex vocabulary, a tricky literary style, dense prose, measured pacing, a total lack of plot threads about which boy is cuter) that I've had more than one conversation with youth librarians here on Goodreads who swear up and down that this isn't a young adult book. My evidence is, of course, rather shaky at best: the publisher says so, and why should I complain, because that means the hardcover costs ...more
May 23, 2012 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2012
5 Stars

Once again I am blown away by China Mieville. Railsea is a young adult oriented delight. It is like all Mieville novels in that it is tough to put it in a category. It is part fantasy, part dystopian, a smattering of steampunk and science fiction, and all Mieville. Parents can take delight knowing that if their child takes up this amazing piece of fiction, they will also be taking up the Webster dictionary.

Mieville creates a fun and three dimensional cast of characters and side characters
It could make a person despair, to dwell on how many parts of everything have been neglected. Have not even been discussed, writes China Miéville near the end of Railsea, his latest novel for readers "of all ages". But nothing’s done. If you tell any of this to others, you can drive, & if you wish, go elsewhere on the way. Until then, safe travels & thank you.

This kind of meta eye-winking can be charming and occurs frequently in Railsea, which often references and comments on itself. Mié
Once again, China Miéville delivers one of the most unique, imaginative worlds I’ve ever spent time in. I sometimes wonder if this man is taking some sort of imagination supplements that the rest of us don’t know about (Hallucinogenic drugs perhaps? Dreamshit?). How does he even come up with these things? I mean, I was pretty skeptical about giant moles as monsters, but he really sold it:

"The mole rats shook off earth. Like hairless, wrinkled mammal newborn, swollen to dog-size, snapping dreadfu
Jul 21, 2015 Phrynne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Only China Miéville can write like this. Not just writing about a whole new world but also writing it in a whole new style. He has a wonderful way with words, sometimes using them in unusual ways and sometimes just making them up but always to great effect. This book is supposedly aimed at Young Adults and it does have a YA feel about it but it is also very readable for any age. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys the weird and the wonderful in the hands of an excellent writer.
Oct 28, 2015 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Call me Sham Yes ap Soorap.

I wonder how many reviews have started this way? Certainly Mieville dropped a letter & flattered Melville the old sincerest way, but this book is so much more than a modern revisionist re-telling of the great American novel. There is also a tip of the literary hat to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped & the briefest of wink & nudge at Robinson Crusoe. But tying it all together is Mieville’s inimitable narrative ability.

China Mieville’s 2012 publication Rai
May 2012

Are those moldywarpe bones towering over New Crobuzon?

Now there's a thought. But it ain't true, sorry. This ain't a Bas-Lag book. It's more fun than that.

Sham Yes ap Soorap ("Call me Sham") is just a mediocre doctor's assistant aboard the Medes, a moletrain hunting the railsea for, well, you get it--& its one-armed captain is on the lookout for the biggest moldywarpe ever: Mocker-Jack, the great white mole himself!

Yeah, it's kinda like Moby-Dick-with-trains, only it's not, too--far
You probably wouldn't have wanted to read my original review that was lost in the ether (as apocalyptic fantasies not grounded in some semblance of reality don't really do anything for me) but China Miéville's Young Adult (or so they say, but good luck, young readers parsing this "Railcreole") homage to Moby Dick (with a decimated world covered with seas of railroad tracks, poisoned lands, and ruled by burrowing, larger-than-life animals like antlions, earwigs, blood rabbits, naked moles (with g ...more
Aug 08, 2012 J.P. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nobody can build a world better than China Miéville. Plus his creativity knows no bounds. This is one of the most literary YA books I’ve ever read. I can just imagine a 12 year old stumbling over words like rumbustious. Actually there’s debate over whether or not this belongs in the YA category but whatever label you choose it’s a great read.
His prose is less dense in this novel but it has the author’s usual characteristics of a blend of different elements. A bit of science fiction here, a dash
What word better could there be to symbolize the railsea that connects & separates all lands, than “&” itself? Where else does the railsea take us, but to one place & that one & that one & that one, & so on? & what better embodies, in the sweep of the pen, the recurved motion of trains, than “&”?

CM certainly appreciates the hothouse of lexicon. One senses the work and wonder at play. Railsea doesn't wear any undue YA infamy, well, not until the concluding third. I
I’ve only really enjoyed on China Miéville novel (The City and the City) but I am a fan of what he does for literature and speculative fiction. His latest novel Railsea is his second attempt at a YA novel and while I’ve not read his other YA novel Un Lun Dun I must say I wasn’t really impressed with this one. I really loved the complexity of The City and the City so I was looking forward to see Miéville’s take on Moby-Dick. Granted I should have read Moby Dick before this book but I found this b ...more
May 15, 2012 Heidi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-favorites
Originally reviewed here.

I’m not going to lie and say that Railsea is a book I will be recommending to all readers, but I will, with certainty, be recommending it to anyone and everyone I think would enjoy it. Railsea isn’t what anyone expects to see under the ‘YA’ label. Many have argued that it isn’t really YA at all, but when a book is pitched as ‘a novel for readers of all ages’, I don’t think it’s really trying to be. Given its content, I think that ‘a novel for readers of all ages’ is the
Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance]
Once again, China Mieville has done it. Taken a bunch of genres, mushed them together and thoroughly conquered them. This time it's young adult, steampunk, speculative fiction and then some.


I love Mieville's playfulness with techniques. No two books are written similarly. In this case, he intersperses the longer action-oriented scenes with one-page chapters where he, as narrator, breaks the fourth wall, directly addressing the reader. Frequently this is done to explain a literary device, such as
Jul 31, 2012 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How can China Mieville fit so much imagination into his closely-shaven head? The man's potential appears boundless. Since he exploded onto the scene with Perdido Street Station,each new work has broken new ground in so many different directions. It's mind-bogggling that the author of The City and the Cityand Embassytown can produce this chimera of Romanticism, steampunk, dystopiana, with sprinklings of pirates,a soupcon of Robinson Crusoe, & of course an obssessed & (possibly) maimed cap ...more
Mar 09, 2013 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michael by: Nataliya
A satisfying blend of post-apocalyptic sci fi and semi-mythical fantasy with overtones of “Moby Dick”. It took me a good 100 pages to suspend my suspicious disbelief in this world where the railroads are a pervasive technology linking diverse city-states and many monstrous creatures burrow the earth and fly the skies. But the story of a boy on a quest and the people he successfully enlists in his cause made for a compelling tale, essentially a portrayal of the power of an individual to exceed th ...more
Jul 19, 2012 Carlos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tres libros leídos y tres éxitos. En este caso, China Miéville usa su muy peculiar voz y su deleite en las palabras para contarnos una aventura marina, con piratas, balleneros, exploradores, tesoros y monstruos marinos. A voces. Y con el mérito, entre muchos otros, de que no hay agua. Casi.

Como siempre. En un mundo sugerente e imaginativo, Miéville coloca unos personajes sencillos en un arranque lento, marca de la casa. Los complica cruzando historias hasta un final en el que más que confluir,
Terry Brooks
May 29, 2014 Terry Brooks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This month's book recommendation: RAILSEA by China Mieville. Here is a truly original writer, someone who takes sentences and reinvents them. I love how he says things. You have to focus because if you don't pay attention you will miss what he is getting at. But this mostly YA book is a retelling of MOBY DICK, and it is a resounding success. I just loved it. I've been a China fan since reading KRAKEN and CITY AND THE CITY among others. He can be a tough read, but no one ever said that good books ...more
Arielle Walker
Ending hit me like a hammer, will have to recollect my thoughts before I can even attempt a coherent review.

4.5 stars

Ok, so I'm still unsure if I can write the review this book deserves, and a lot of it has already been said anyway. It's certainly far easier to write about books I didn't like, or ones I loved but could use nostalgia as a tool to write the review. Railsea was released this year, and I read it recently, so no nostalgia there. The world it is set in is wildly unlike my own, so agai
Mar 17, 2013 Terence rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: My nieces
I find myself without a great deal to say about Railsea.

I certainly liked it. China Miéville is one of my favorite authors and I have yet to be disappointed in anything of his I’ve read. His imagination and talent are on full display – as usual – and it is far more than a simple homage or pastiche of Moby Dick.

Other reviewers have summarized the plot (which is also reasonably well summarized on the dust jacket of my edition) and described the railsea and its denizens so I’m not going to dwell on
Jan 04, 2013 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, bizarre
Miéville is the best world-builder out there. Writing “weird” fiction is already challenging; most of us recognize weird when we see it, but would struggle fruitlessly to create something that is both unconventional and interesting. Unlike us, the author of Railsea excels at this, which is a marvel. His worlds are fleshed out with details that are strikingly unearthly, but not so alien as to be unrealistic.

He also gifts us with characters that are exuberantly real, and stylish prose that is a pl
For someone on whom The City and the City left a huge impression it sure has taken me a long time to read another Miéville book. Or should I say Melville? For this book borrows quite a lot from Moby-Dick as well as bits from other classics.

Set in a world where instead of ocean there's vast tracts of soft, soil criss-crossed in every direction with limitless miles of train tracks. Trains of all varieties are the ships of this land. Clockwork, diesel, electric, wind-powered and many more. In the
Nov 12, 2012 Eric rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Can't do it...
A lot of people find China Mieville's prose to be spectacular; for some reason, I can't get through it. It doesn't matter if he is spinning the greatest yarn of all time if I can't clearly follow what is happening, and am not compelled, in any way, shape of form, to turn the pages. A lot of people find his ideas to be brilliant; I just can't wade my way through his text long enough to find out if they are right. There are too many other authors I love, and too many other books I want to read, fo ...more
China Miéville does future fantastic Moby Dick. Equally interested in quests & big ideas, but tons more fun. Miéville lite.

Smarter than the average YA novel. Wordplay & worldbuilding, philosophy & adventure, trains & giant moles. Love it.


Basically, I thought this was great. If I were judging this against his other adult novels that I've read - Perdido Street Station, The City and the City, Kraken, Embassytown - it would be a four star book instead of five
Jul 31, 2012 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Railsea almost returns Mieville to my favor (solving many of his sleepless nights I’m sure). He hasn’t been writing books with any urgency for a while, hopping from genre to genre which would be fine except the imagination and language has seemed muted. I won’t call Railsea an urgent read, but the language and imagination seem revived, and it is a lot of fun. This is yet another YA novel, but Mieville ties that tradition to the 19th century adventure novel were its roots lie, crafting a novel th ...more
Trains aren't nice. I'm not sure the book gets that.

In the pre-finial epilogue of chapter 84:
you can drive, & if you wish, go elsewhere on the way.

But this is to miss, to my mind, the point of the train. Ships (and cars) are images of freedom, of potential, adventure and exploration. But on a train you cannot go elsewhere. A train goes from here to there and only to there. Trains are about things left behind and people gone or taken away, choices irrevocably made.

The geography of rails is
Alexander Popov
Aug 07, 2012 Alexander Popov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Originally published on my blog:

Everybody knows that there are two layers to the sky, four to the world. The downsky goes to two-three miles plus a biscuit above the railsea and after it comes the upsky, prowled by odd alien flyers. It is fortunate that dirt and mist hide that horrible scenery and only sometimes, when the clouds disperse, are you in danger of glimpsing any of those creatures. That Apt Ohm forbid one of them tumbling down dead on your he
Sep 25, 2013 Derek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: steampunk
I was conflicted when I heard this was "a gripping and brilliantly imagined take on ... Moby Dick" (so it says on the cover blurb). On the one hand, Miéville at his best is one of the best writers on the planet. On the other hand, I hated Moby Dick (yeah, I gave it 2 stars - because one would have meant I couldn't finish it).

On the gripping hand, I already panned The Scar because it was too much like Moby Dick!

It turns out Miéville is either mocking Moby Dick, or he's explaining it in terms tha
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A British "fantastic fiction" writer. He is fond of describing his work as "weird fiction" (after early 20th century pulp and horror writers such as H. P. Lovecraft), and belongs to a loose group of writers sometimes called New Weird who consciously attempt to move fantasy away from commercial, genre clichés of Tolkien epigons. He is also active in left-wing politics as a member of the Socialist W ...more
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“People have wanted to narrate since first we banged rocks together & wondered about fire. There’ll be tellings as long as there are any of us here, until the stars disappear one by one like turned-out lights.” 31 likes
“Technically, our name, to those who speak science, is Homo sapiens— wise person. But we have been described in many other ways. Homo narrans, juridicus, ludens, diaspora: we are storytelling, legal, game-playing, scattered people, too. True but incomplete. That old phrase has the secret. We are all, have always been, will always be, Homo vorago aperientis: person before whom opens a vast & awesome hole.” 11 likes
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