I think the author described it best when he said this book is "basically a secondary world fantasy with Victorian era technology. So rather than bein...moreI think the author described it best when he said this book is "basically a secondary world fantasy with Victorian era technology. So rather than being a feudal world, it's an early industrial capitalist world of a fairly grubby, police statey kind."
This book was so genius on so many levels. Mieville has accomplished a rare feat in creating a completely new universe, with its own magic and history and physics...and yet making it a parallel universe version of today's London. Like London, New Crobuzon is a sprawling city, made up of communities and cultures from around the world. Unlike London, many of those cultures are separate species. But what really amazed me was how well Mieville echoed the modern multicultural city, in all its working parts. New Crobuzon has slums and horrors, but isn't post-apocalyptic. There is still a middle class, a university, and an upper class. This kind of parallel universe idea, of a working city, is what makes this book so unbelievably brilliant. (less)
I found this book to be unpleasant to read - but only for me. I dislike books where the protagonist is trapped, unable to simply leave a bad or deteri...moreI found this book to be unpleasant to read - but only for me. I dislike books where the protagonist is trapped, unable to simply leave a bad or deteriorating situation. And in "Softspoken", that's exactly the case. The main character is stuck in a haunted family home, with her husband, his crazy druggie brother, and their possibly autistic sister. And, unlike most of those ancestral Southern homes, this one is hopeless, without charm, and too decayed to love. As Sanie wanders the house, taking peyote in order to see the ghosts, and investigating the family's history, I keep wanting to tell her to leave, to run away. Like Truman's "Other Voices, Other Rooms," it's disturbing in that you know there's an unpleasant history, and you know that the hero doesn't belong there - but you can't make them leave and get back to the real world.(less)