China Miéville does future fantastic Moby Dick. Equally interested in quests & big ideas, but tons more fun. Miéville lite.
Smarter than the avera...moreChina 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, but considering this as a book intended for a broader audience, including younger readers, this is five star material.
It is smart as well as engaging, with an interesting (& somewhat familiar, building on Moby-Dick as it does) plot. As always, Miéville is a genius with language & worldbuilding, & I could read a whole series of books set in this world & with this narrative voice just for the sheer joy of it. There is so much here to discover & to wonder at.
Stylistically, one of my favorite bits is the use of the ampersand (&) throughout the book. Its use is not explained until the book is about half over & it has a significant impact on the feel of the book and its rhythm. It is annoying at first, but I got used to it quickly (I'm a fan of the ampersand in general, so that made it easier) and its philosophical connection to the story is so great that I grew to not just accept but love the & when it appeared.
There was a time when we did not form all words as now we do, in writing on a page. There was a time when the word "&" was written with several distinct & separate letters. It seems madness now. But there it is, & there is nothing we can do about it.
Humanity learned to ride the rails, & that motion made us what we are, a ferromaritime people. The lines of the railsea go everywhere but from one place straight to another. It is always switchback, junction, coils around & over our own train-trails.
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 this place & that one & that one & that one, & so on? & what better embodies, in the sweep of the pen, the recurved motion of trains, than "&"?
An efficient route from where we start to where end would make the word the tiniest line. But it takes a veering route, up & backwards, overshooting & correcting, back down again south & west, crossing its own earlier path, changing direction, another overlap, to stop, finally, a few hairs' widths from where we began.
& tacks and & yaws, switches on its way to where it's going, as we all must do.
This is beautiful & brilliant commentary on the ampersand, on storytelling (this story & others as well), & on the shape of life itself. It is this combination of language, narrative, & philosophy that makes this more than just an adventure story.
But it's a pretty damn good adventure story, too. (less)