Isabel's Reviews > Veniss Underground

Veniss Underground by Jeff VanderMeer
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Dec 08, 11

Read in October, 2005

Down below. Ten years since he had been there, and who knew how it might have changed, have warped, have permutated, in his absence? Somehow, he had thought, as a child might, that it had not existed at all after he had left, but had been a nightmare from which he had which he had finally woken up. Why such a place should exist was a question hopelessly tangled in other questions, lost in the below level passageways, long ago.

Veniss is a city that is only just keeping its head above water - the AIs and machinery are still maintaining the city, but nobody is in control. Nobody understands how the machines work or can intervene to alter or stop obsolete processes and the underground levels of the city where the miners and other workers spend their lives, are places of pain, torture and horror. Quinn's genetically enhanced meerkats and ganeshas seem both endearing and useful, but Nicholas, Nicola and Shadrach find that the truth of Quinn's work is far more ghoulish and sinister than the surface dwellers suspect when each in turn is drawn down into his world.

I can't say I really liked this story, even though it was very interesting. It's much more gruesome and distubing than "City of Saints and Madmen", even though Veniss is a more human city than Ambergris - Jeff VanderMeer has a very weird imagination indeed and an obsession with the hidden places under the earth and the things that lurk there, in the dark.

The book also contains a novella called "Balzac's War", a sad story set in the same world, at a later time, when the cities have fallen and the last vestiges of the technology that mankind no longer understands are finally breaking down.
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