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3.89  ·  Rating details ·  11,745 ratings  ·  1,588 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
Hardcover, 424 pages
Published May 15th 2012 by Del Rey
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  11,745 ratings  ·  1,588 reviews

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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 free. Theref
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
We're having an open book discussion of this book here . Do come and join!

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, especiall
Dan Schwent
Jan 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 from chair
Sep 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 11, 2014 rated it liked it
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 Railsea is a ch
DNF at page 150

Ok, so what are the reasons why I didn’t like this retelling of Moby-Dick. (In fact I haven’t read any retellings of Moby-D before, at all :D) The world building, the writing and the language are strange and quite odd for me. At first I couldn’t get used to all that & signs, oddly formed sentences, but it’s not a big problem. This book is peculiar. I must admit, there were some funny puns thrown and that’s one of the points why I didn’t DNF it at the very start. Also it has some k
J.L.   Sutton
Jun 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
“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.”

China Miéville on Moby Dick and Railsea - BooksPlus - ABC Radio ...

In so far as Railsea features a captain obsessed with hunting down a behemoth mole, China
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
There's truly a lot to enjoy here, especially if you're a fan of philosophy and moles.

Sometimes together. No, no, scratch that. You can't separate the philosophy from the moles.

Every captain must have a philosophy to chase after, and truly, it DOESN'T REALLY MATTER if you're missing an arm or a leg, Okay? Just trust me on this. Don't go chopping off perfectly good appendages just because some bloody mole popped out of one of the seven layered seas and ruined my perfectly happy steampunk reverie.
Feb 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2012, e-books
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 character
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. Miéville's
I generally like YA sci-fi/fantasy novels but I rarely consider them anything more than lite fun between “big” books and because of it I tend to be less critical towards them but every now and than one comes along that is good by any standard and reminds me to take this sub-genres seriously.Un Lun Dun,Half a king, Wizard of Earthsea (yes I do consider this book to be YA but not rest of the series), Graveyard book, Chaos Walking and now Railsea joins the group.

If I had to label it this would be Y
Feb 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more

I've only read one book by China Mieville, but I've heard many good things about his writing from many smart people. So I grabbed this book when I was away at a convention and needed something to read.

But Honestly? I'm not sure how I felt about it. It was well-written. And it was clever. It made me chuckle in certain places. There was interesting, even unique worldbuilding....

But I just don't know. I feel like I *want* to like it more than I actually did like it. It might simply be an issue of
Mar 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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 as I
Terry Brooks
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Heidi The Reader
Aug 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
"This is the story of a bloodstained boy." That's the first line of this strange and fantastical tale of giant creatures that "swim" in the earth's soil and the brave and flawed "molers" who chase them for profit and life purpose. Mieville has created a dystopian world covered in railway ties with skies poisoned by chemicals and filled with monstrous, alien creatures who feast on those who get too close. But, there may just be something beyond the rails, if the characters in this story are deter ...more
May 09, 2012 rated it liked it
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 found the exhumation of languag
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
"Our minds we salvage from history’s rubbish, & they are machines to make chaos into story."
- China Miéville, Railsea


I enjoyed it. Not fantastic Miéville, but an amazingly constructed universe. The story was well-developed and the characters were interesting. Very steampunky. Very weird. But when Miéville is ON he is really ON and his prose train is moving. There is a genius engine under his hood. He has produced some of my favorite books, and I still don't think he is close to writing his grea
Rick Riordan
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Imagine a world where islands of solid ground are surrounded by seas of shifting dirt, sand and ice, all of it infested with dangerous subterranean predators -- giant moles, ant lions and of course the dreaded naked mole rats. The only way across this earthen sea is a labyrinthine network of rails, built and maintained by mysterious beings called Angels.

In the Railsea, men travel by train, and brave molers set sail to hunt the giant moldywarpe. Our hero, Sham ap Soorap, has just signed aboard
Olivier Delaye
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Looking back on my favorite reads of 2013, it’s pretty obvious to me that Railsea tops the list. And so re-reading it (for the third time, mind you) in 2016 was sort of a given.

Mieville’s prose is not as heavy and, dare I say it, pompous here as it is in Perdido Street Station and his choice of words is definitely more reader-friendly, which allows us to fully immerse in the story without being distracted by a plethora of obscure words and never-ending descriptions. The steampunk world he create
Apr 30, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Mar 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Ruby  Tombstone Lives!
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
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
Dec 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Megan Baxter
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Am I allowed to review this book without having read Moby Dick? Because I haven't, as of yet. I know the basic story, in the way that everyone knows the basic story - except mostly I know it through Futurama and the hunting of the Great Brain with whitewash spilled all over it from Tom Sawyer's fence-painting days. That's pretty much what happens, right? So I don't have that context for reviewing Railsea, a retelling, sort of, of Moby Dick. Take that into consideration.

Note: The rest of this rev
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
Jan 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 captain hun ...more
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
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Beyond Reality: Railsea -- Roll Call and First Impressions -- **NO SPOILERS!!** 15 25 Sep 24, 2017 06:33AM  
Beyond Reality: Railsea -- Finished Reading -- **SPOILERS!!** 5 19 Aug 25, 2017 10:21AM  
is230-809-2017: Railsea 28 11 Apr 06, 2017 03:32PM  
is230-808-2017: Railsea Group 2 21 13 Mar 19, 2017 03:24PM  

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