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The Last Days of New Paris

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  5,480 ratings  ·  962 reviews
"Beauty will be convulsive...."

It's 1941. In the chaos of wartime Marseille, American engineer - and occult disciple - Jack Parsons stumbles onto a clandestine anti-Nazi group, including surrealist theorist André Breton. In the strange games of the dissident diplomats, exiled revolutionaries, and avant-garde artists, Parsons finds and channels hope. But what he unwittingly
Kindle Edition, 176 pages
Published August 9th 2016 by Del Rey
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Combeferre The whole book is fairly confusing; honestly the blurb is the most straightforward and understandable part. Not that its a bad book, it's just... odd.…moreThe whole book is fairly confusing; honestly the blurb is the most straightforward and understandable part. Not that its a bad book, it's just... odd. Like the blurb says, it follows a man trying to survive in Paris, 9 years after the detonation of a S(urrealist)-bomb in the center of the city. Nazis, Resistance fighters, and monsters created by the bomb (called manifs) all walk the warped streets. That's pretty much the premise, it's hard to go much further into the plot without spoiling things?

As to similarities to Unlundun, its... not similar at all. This book's waaay darker, and instead of an alternate city, its alternate history- the name New Paris is only used because the S-bomb warps the city so much. I guess you could compare manifs to the weird citizens of Unlundun, but all of the manifs are based on actual Surrealist art/writings from wwii-ish. There's a nice apendix in the back that elaborates on all of them.(less)
Elise I just picked up a hard cover copy from my neighborhood branch of the St. Louis Public Library yesterday (January 14, 2017), so it's definitely out an…moreI just picked up a hard cover copy from my neighborhood branch of the St. Louis Public Library yesterday (January 14, 2017), so it's definitely out and available.(less)

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Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Literary Dali.

Magritte in manuscript.

China Mieville throws an S bomb (surrealist blast) into an alternate history Nazi occupied Paris and all hell breaks loose.

You’re a weird one Mr. Mieville – and that’s a big reason why we love you.

Taking pages from his Embassytown and The City & the City play books, Mieville hits a homerun and provides a clear demonstration of his talent in this sparklingly unorthodox 2016 publication.

The Nazis are still alive and kicking and occupying Paris in 1950. But this
This is an epic idea, but as a novel, it's an epic mess. It’s a shame, because it would make an excellent film, a good graphic novel, and a challenging project for humanities undergrads to untangle.

I’ve loved some of Mieville’s works and had high hopes of this, but I quickly felt “the soft decay of actualized dreams”.

By far the best bit was the “afterword”, which is an origin story of this book.
(My enjoyment was 2.5*, but I've rounded up for its educational value - though I had to do all that my
Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
"Can living artwork die? Can it live before it dies?"
-- China Miéville, The Last Days of New Paris


As a reader who is drawn to art as much as to books, Miéville novella came as a messy, strange treat. The concept is relatively simple. Imagine a New Paris transformed in 1941, by "virtue" of an occultish weapon to fight the Nazis, into a ghetto where Nazi's and French Resistance continue their battles into the 50s along side Surreal artist and Surreal art that has been made living. Oh, and the forc
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
I'm not sure wtf I just read and on what shelf I should put this but I liked it a lot. Any book that has sentient piece of surreal art fighting nazi made demon can't be bad. Of course this is China Mieville so this is very weird, well written with some very cleaver moments and ideas.

Actual review might come if I ever figure out what to say and how to say it but I do have strong opinion about this. For now if you are fan of his works that this is must read and if you are unfamiliar with him than
Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-2019
I can only imagine that China Miéville would be the most amazing person to invite to dinner. His imagination knows no bounds and he couples this with a huge amount of knowledge about his topic.

For The Last Days of New Paris the main topic was surrealist art. Imagine Paris in 1950 in an alternate history where Germany has not lost the war. The use of an S-Bomb in Paris has caused figures from surrealist art to come alive. All of the figures Mieville uses are from real art works and not just from
Sam Quixote
Mar 30, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If you ever wanted to read a book about a guy smelling his own farts for 160 pages, this one’s for you! “Ohh (fart), I’m (fart) China (fart) Mieville and, oooh (fart) I know sooooo (fart) much (fart) about (fart) Surrealism! (FAAAAARRRRTTT)”

Surrealistic art comes to life and starts attacking Nazis in WW2 in China Mieville’s The Last Days of New Paris. That’s both the premise and the “plot” of this steaming pile of book!

This is partly my fault for not reading the blurb and just launching myself
Roger Brunyate
Nov 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Surrealism Made Manifest

The photo on the cover shows a view of the Eiffel Tower with the lower part obscured by mist. A picturesque scene—but no, in China Miéville's alternate-reality novella, the lower part of the tower really is not there; the pinnacle floats on its own in mid-air:
Jags of ruin, a fallen outline. Framed against the flat bright sky to the north-east, the Eiffel Tower looms. The tower's steepling top half dangles where it has always been, where the Pont d'Iéna meets the Quai B
Althea Ann
Oct 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Read for book club (although, again, I didn't make the meeting), and also because I'm a fan. Unfortunately, this summoned up less enthusiasm in me than anything I've read from Miéville recently. (I'd been really, really hoping that this would be set in the same world as 'This Census-Taker,' but alas, it is unrelated.)

The concept is clever - perhaps a bit too 'cute' - but I didn't feel that the story and characters lived up to it. It seemed that the idea came first, not a burning need to illustra
R.K. Syrus
The author belongs to a loose group of writers sometimes called New Weird. Nuff said!

He had me at 'surrealist bomb'!

Seriously, in an excellent Joan Gordon interview the author said:

"I don’t start with the graph paper and the calculators like a particular kind of D&D dungeonmaster: I start with an image, as unreal and affecting as possible, just like the Surrealists. But then I systematize it, and move into a different kind of tradition."

"...That’s the sf concern for internal cognitive rigor, and
David Katzman
I think the big appeal of Miéville is his boundless imagination. He’s come up with many highly original premises for books. Where he tends to fall down is crafting characters that feel real and that the reader can invest in. Unfortunately, The Last Days of New Paris falls into this trap. In addition, being a novella rather than a full-length novel, it becomes more of an imaginative premise than a full and fulfilling story.

My opinions on Miéville have run the gamut. Five stars for Kraken, three s
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a very unique and interesting story. I have not read anything like this before, it was weird but very good. The idea of using surrealistic art as weapon was mind boggling. The hardest part was just going with the flow of the story instead of trying to make it fit into a logical, orderly pattern. If you are truly looking for something different, this may be the book for you.
Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
In the bizarre Paris of 1950, 9 years after the S-blast was detonated there, a lone resistance fighter uses his surrealist talents to navigate the deeply weird world of never-ending conflict between surrealist manifestations and the forces of Nazis and Hell itself.

This is mainly the story of Thibaut and an American photographer Sam as they try to deal with the latest horror that the Nazis are throwing at Paris, but we also get the short interweaving story of the S-blast itself and how it came to
3 and a half stars, rounded up.

If you have read anything by Mieville before, I don't need to tell you the man's brain is a very strange place indeed, and that his intelligence and boundless imagination create the most fascinating and baroque worlds and stories I've ever had the pleasure of reading. This short novel blends tales of occultism and WWII with Mieville's encyclopedic knowledge of Surrealist art.

I feel like the reader's enjoyment of this book will reflect their enjoyment of Surrealist
May 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
Interesting concept, and well written, albeit weird, but who can expect anything less than China Mieville?

It just wasn't for me.
Aug 21, 2016 rated it liked it
I think it's time for China Miéville to consider writing a memoir.

I like how Miéville's always trying to do something new and yet The Last Days of New Paris is probably the most "China Miéville" book that China Miéville could write. An S-Blast unleashes surreal art in a city to battle demons and Nazis. There are illustrations -- yay! -- and notes for readers unfamiliar with surrealism (readers like me). It's intelligent and weird, in proportions that I think we should call the Miéville Ratio. Un
Political, grotesque, bizarre, monsters, cities, well, basically almost all the things you could expect from a Mieville novel. All, except engaging characters to root for and an actual exciting plot. This one, sadly, fell short on both fronts.

Fantastic imageries, nevertheless. He painted me a picture of places I'd like to take a peek at, albeit with morbid fascination.

Learned a lot about Surrealism and its artists. At the back, the novella has a long list of references of all surrealist works me
Sep 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
What a concept. Paris during World War II, Nazi interest in the occult, a mysterious S-blast which brings to life surrealistic paintings, drawings, sculptures,ideas as well as demons from Hell, a small resistance band of surrealistic ideologues battling the manifestations......just when you thought Miéville couldn't get any stranger. A fascinating conglomeration that hit many sweet spots for me. I have only a basic passing familiarity with the surrealistic movement but do remember enjoying a cla ...more
Nutshell: conscription of art objects makes manifest Benjamin’s thesis that humanity’s “self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order. This is the situation of politics which Fascism is rendering aesthetic. Communism responds by politicizing art.”

Basic principle of the narrative is that certain art-concepts have manifested (etymologically ‘hand-thrust’), i.e., have demonstrated, or become apparent, or have been d
It is 1950 in Nazi-occupied Paris. Clearly, we are in a reality alternate to our own.

If Germans were the only invading force, that would be bad enough. But Paris is also overrun with nightmare visions plucked from the imaginations of surrealist writers, painters, and sculptors who believed that art could conquer fascism. And there are infernal invaders too, strange demonic entities vomited up from the bowels of hell - it seems that they are allied with the Nazis, but only to a point. For the ci
Jul 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Meh- disjointed narrative made it hard to follow and the short length made it hard to connect with the characters.
Thomas Wagner
Aug 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
I’m pretty sure that when André Breton and his Surrealist colleagues collaborated on The Exquisite Corpse in 1938 — that bizarre photo-collage of a giant with a larva on his head, a train spewing smoke in his beard, and a vise for a torso — they never would have predicted their creature would star in a boss battle in a 21st century work of weird fiction by the genre’s most prominent Marxist. The Surrealists saw themselves as revolutionaries, but the revolutionary thing China Miéville does is con ...more
Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is what China does best, a writerly chimera of styles and neologisms sprinkled with mind warping visualizations that will most likely give you nightmares. I'm still more a fan of his longer form, but to make this story work it had to be the length it was. The Fall Rot scene was read at 3:30 a.m. in a dark room and gave me all the right heebie jeebies. The final 20% of the book was a perfect ode to everything Lovecraftian.
Huh. And huh?

I come away from The Last Days of New Paris feeling like I've felt after coming away from Vladimir Nabokov or Thomas Pynchon -- mentally drained, slightly humbled and scratching my head. But while that feeling often sends me down rabbit holes of study or instills a fervour to go back and give the writing a second or third or fifteenth shot to increase my understanding, The Last Days of New Paris simply makes me want to close the cover, slip it into my Mieville bookshelf and leave it
Aug 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Fairly well written, but the book never grabbed me, never pulled me in - often to the point where I'd realized I'd read several pages and hadn't really absorbed any of it as I just wasn't into it. Additionally, the epilogue/afterword was 1/4 of the total length of the book, which seemed like a bit much (though it was interesting).
Sep 09, 2018 marked it as unfinished  ·  review of another edition
China Mieville seems, to me, like an author who has great ideas and turns them into mediocre books. The concept of this book is fantastic, but the people are barely there, the language feels overwrought and ineffective and the plot, if there is one, is so slow that I still don't know what it is and I'm halfway through the book.
It is becoming exquisite corpse. It is remade. It is without artist. And in its wake, as its wan precision is replaced by that stochastic rigor, that self-dreamed dream, the buildings that it saw into twee perfection are less perfect again.

Our beloved author takes a bold point of departure and then fails to realize it. I almost expect such from him when he drifts away from New Crobuzon. It is interesting to ponder Benjamin and Breton but the plot was rather thin and it packed the one requisite t
Liz Janet
“Can living artwork die? Can it live before it dies?”

The only way I can describe what is happening is by saying: This is Miéville tying an alternative France fighting the Nazis with the Surrealist movement in one short novella.I hope that made sense, because until one reads it, much won’t be understood clearly at all. In fact, once I read the description, I still had no idea what was going to happen. It was a good thing, since for once, I enjoyed going into a story without knowing much about it
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Speculative Herald

“The purest surrealist act is walking into a crowd with a loaded gun and firing into it randomly.” - Andrė Breton

The Arc de Triomphe secretes urine and the Eiffel tower floats on no grounded support. The mechanical elephant Celebes, once only a famed surrealist art piece, travels in occupied Paris and not alone. Manifestations of surrealist artwork, both famed and unknown, fight the Nazi occupation along with what is left of the resistance. “Liberation was fucked up,' acco
Sadly this is one of those times where I just didn't connect with the story. This is a surrealist retelling set in 1941 and featuring a new version of what Paris could have been.
Although I have read and really enjoyed other works by Méville, I just didn't find a connection with this one and the surrealist vision made it just lose its way a bit in terms of plot.
I have no doubt that the ambition of this one is good, but for me, I like something a little easier to follow. I know I will still pick
Oleksandr Zholud
This is an alt-history novella, where surrealists battle Nazi in Paris with their art. I guess it was supposed to be a surrealist novella, but I don’t feel it that way. As the epigraph at the start of the book states:

“One overhears many reactions to surrealist art, but the most pathetic of all is from those who ask, ‘What am I supposed to see and feel from this?’ In other words, ‘What does papa say I may think and feel about this?’ ”

There are two storylines, in more or less ‘our’ Paris of 1940 a
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