Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Blackfish City” as Want to Read:
Blackfish City
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Blackfish City

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  5,991 ratings  ·  1,037 reviews
After the climate wars, a floating city is constructed in the Arctic Circle, a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering, complete with geothermal heating and sustainable energy. The city’s denizens have become accustomed to a roughshod new way of living, however, the city is starting to fray along the edges—crime and corruption have set in, the contradictions o ...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published April 17th 2018 by Ecco
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Blackfish City, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Morad I am struggling too. Still, I find it interesting enough to keep reading so I can complete my reading challenge. At page 100, it's worth 3 stars to me…moreI am struggling too. Still, I find it interesting enough to keep reading so I can complete my reading challenge. At page 100, it's worth 3 stars to me. Too much description and I think the author fails to introduce his world in an easy to understand way.(less)
Sam Miller There won't be a sequel, BUT, all my fiction takes place in a shared universe, so there are lots of references to this world in other stories, and I w…moreThere won't be a sequel, BUT, all my fiction takes place in a shared universe, so there are lots of references to this world in other stories, and I will definitely be revisiting this city in the future... (my story "Calved" is also set in Qaanaaq! Check it out at (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,991 ratings  ·  1,037 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Blackfish City
Rick Riordan
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I'm late to the party here, but what a wonderful book! Blackfish City takes us into the near future, when climate change has caused the flooding and destruction of large swaths of the inhabited continents. The rich have fled, constructing massive floating cities in the Arctic, to which refugees flock from all over the fallen world. The novel follows a large cast of characters who live in Qaanaaq, one such city constructed with eight arms like a giant asterisk. Each character has a compelling sto ...more
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it

this was a real roller coaster of a read for me. it was offered to me by a publisher-pal, who confidently declared:

“I just think you will die for this book.”

between that prediction and the first part of the synopsis:

When a strange new visitor arrives—a woman riding an orca, with a polar bear at her side—the city is entranced. 


but then further into the synopsis:

Blackfish City is a remarkably urgent—and ultimately very hopeful—novel about political corruption, organi
James Tivendale
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: freecopy, sci-fi
I received an advanced reading copy of Blackfish City in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Sam J. Miller and Orbit Books.

The results of the climate wars were that the majority of the Earth was either flooded or burnt to rubble leaving very little in the way of habitual environments. In this futuristic and dystopian world, people now reside in an astonishingly well engineered floating city that has been constructed in the Arctic Circle. This settlement is bustling with strife
2.5ish stars.

Underwhelmed. A lot of great individual elements, but there's so much missing at the same time. I wanted to like it more than I did. Especially based on the imaginative setting, the interesting crowd of POVs, the great cover, and the concept of an ORCAMANCER, hello!

I enjoyed Miller's YA novel, The Art of Starving, a lot more because I liked the voice he gave to his protagonist. Without a first-person narrator to ground things here, Miller gets carried away by the Triple P™: pretent
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
7.8 out of 10 at:

Sci-fi and fantasy narratives that deal directly with structures of power usually feature a single, goal-oriented protagonist, often consumed with a desire for revenge or seeking to redress a perceived injustice. Even if the intent is to castigate or subvert the social and political norms that reinforce those structures, these stories tend to promote the idea of a lone genius/hero/savior as the essential component for radical change – the
Jan 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Sadly, I found it impossible to connect with this story. It is one that I would normally love and I was so intrigued after reading the premise, so looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately it did not meet my expectations. I thought if I was patient enough, I'd finally "get into it", but nope, never did. The last 30 pages I enjoyed more than the rest, but that didn't make up for struggling through the previous 295. So why didn't I love it? I mean, it's got ingredients that would make for a kic ...more
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it

It's okay, and them's the Breaks! ;)

I honestly thought this book was all right. Not fantastic but definitely strong in the worldbuilding, characters, and plot progression. The real stars are the floating ramshackle cities out in the Arctic Circle and the wildly delicious custom nanotech plague.

Everything else was a pretty cool but standard dystopia of Syndicates (mob landlords) and shareholders (super rich owners who are above the law), with fighters, skaters, hedge nano-wizards and bonding
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
A complex novel of a post-climate change world set on a floating city in the arctic with a disparate cast of point-of-view characters who turn out to be connected in interesting ways.

Qaanaaq is an advanced technology floating platform city that's heated by geothermal energy. In many ways it's a vestige of our world, with extreme wealth inequality between the property owners and the vast majority of its inhabitants, many of them refugees of climate disasters and wars throughout the world. And as
Allison Hurd
Mar 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a wonderful experience. There were so many moving parts that just coalesced so beautifully. I felt like I was in a spiral that started meandering, lots of turns that I couldn't see, and then it got tighter and tighter.

I loved nearly everything about it. Sort of like Maupin's Tales of the City meets St. John Mandel's Station Eleven, it's got heart, humor, animal companions, people from all walks of life dealing with their own struggles and the struggles that we all face as a society. A b
Richard Derus
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindled, quiltbag
Real Rating: 4.5* of five

This is a delightful read. The investment you make in the first 100 pages pays off in a rich, enfolding experience of very able, capable worldbuilding by Author Miller.

Four PoV characters seems like a lot, I know, but each presents the reader with a different lens on a world that is all about where you are in its hierarchy as to what it looks like, feels like, and how Qaanaaq functions to meet your needs. Wealthy and privileged and bored Fill and Kaev, males at opposite
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Qaanaaq is an eight-armed asterisk. East of Greenland, north of Iceland. Built by an unruly alignment of Thai-Chinese-Swedish corporations and government entities, part of the second wave of grid city construction, learning from the spectacular failure of several early efforts. Almost a million people call it home, though many are migrant workers who spend much of their time on boats harvesting glacier for freshwater ice...or working Russian petroleum rigs in the far Arctic."

Qaanaaq, the dysto
Sonja Arlow
3.5 stars

I had to be patient with this book because it was only towards the 40% mark that the story really took off.

On a very basic level this story takes the concept of the Golden Compass – humans bonding with non-human entities (in this case real animals) - but made it much darker, grittier and more terrifying. This is no children’s story.

I really enjoyed the overall story line and was determined to give it 4 stars for its wonderful atmosphere and imaginative world HOWEVER….

The author had the
Liz Barnsley
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Political corruption but not as you know it…

I LOVED Blackfish City – imaginative, compelling, realistically fantastic and blimey a right proper page turner with beautifully immersive descriptive prose and characters that just pop.

The setting is chilly and well defined, the world building is intensely clever, Sam Miller creates a genuinely inspired mythology here. “The breaks” are somewhat terrifying and allegorical, as the story unfolds within the worlds view of each individual character it is o
Charlie Jane Anders
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The worldbuilding in this post-climate-change novel is so fantastic and the eponymous city in the Arctic Circle is such a vivid setting. The politics in this book are fascinating as well, and the vision of liberation in its final chapters blew my mind. We need more novels that imagine the future of cities as masterfully as this one does.
Peter Tillman
Starts out well, but the premise is so unlikely that I'm unlikely to finish it: that, in a future world badly damaged by rising seas (et al.), people would build large, floating oil rig-like structures for new cities. Think about what that would cost, vs. building regular buildings onshore. The titular city is offshore southern Greenland -- why not build there? With the warming temperatures, people are already settling there now: this is where the Norse had their settlements from the 10th to the ...more
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book has an orca-riding lesbian grandma and a gritty futuristic floating city—it could not possibly be any more up my alley.
Impressively ambitious, big-hearted, and provocative. I grew to love its wide-ranging cast of characters, and as I progressed through the novel, I became more and more enchanted by how well its initially rambling structure gives way to a tightly-constructed narrative that comes into sharper and sharper focus. Miller writes with a confidence and clarity that is bracing, and suffuses his story with an abiding hunger for righting the economic wrongs of our society, but never does so in an easy or p ...more
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Though the start was a little confusing with multiple characters and their PoVs introduced with a rather dizzying set of life circumstances, I found that once past that, the story flowed. The worldbuilding was terrific; horribly grim but with so much texture: the AIs running the political system; the desperation of people living crammed in on top of each other; the wonderful descriptions in the "City Without a Map", the recording that weaves its way throughout Qaanaaq and the characters' lives; ...more
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Forgive me karen for what I have done to the book you were so nice to lend me almost a year ago!

I started this book the Monday after Thanksgiving, and I'm finishing up this 326 page book on January 13th. I'm a fucking reading machine!

I wasn't really in the mood to read this most of the time (obviously, right?), or read anything for that matter that wasn't more than a chapter or two out of a non-fiction book for the past couple of months. It's not that I didn't like the book, or that when I would
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a very clever and interesting scifi novel. Climate wars and issued have created a civilization that seems to be living in a weird type squalor with improved tech ( e.g phones are nanotech implanted in the jaw), animals can be bonded (ala Pullmans story but more real and violent as compared to the light hearted take). We have 4 POVs each character slightly different to one another. We have a fighter, a government official type, another young boy and a messenger for the mafia type world. ...more
Thomas Wagner
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
(3.5*) Blackfish City is a gritty and propulsive novel that combines the aesthetics of classic Gibsonian cyberpunk with a more contemporary concern over such pressing issues as climate change, wealth inequality, political corruption and xenophobia. Sam J. Miller, who won the Andre Norton Award for his first novel, The Art of Starving, has set his first SF novel for adults aboard a massive oceanic city named Qaanaaq, located near the coast of Greenland above some geothermal vents from which it dr ...more
What a fun romp.

Note to self: Try to write reviews - no matter how brief - right after reading a book, not two books after.

Well, notwithstanding my poor memory, I still remember that I really liked this book due to the following:
- Another weird city, since I could not get enough of those. AI writing the political system. The underworld. The city mechanics. I live for weird SFF cities.
- There is an ORCAMANCER in the book. A woman who controls a frickin' orca. HOW COOL IS THAT. Imagine Avatar Ko
Spencer Orey
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
For me, the awesome dystopian city was the highlight, and I'm in awe about how cleverly politics especially gender issues are woven into everything here and used to build the world and the story. The opening really hooked me. Looking forward to reading more. ...more
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
A mysterious woman wielding a blade carved out of giant jaw bone arrives at a floating city in the Arctic Circle riding a killer whale with a polar bear in tow. That right there is an interesting visual and I expected it to be the start of an interesting story. Unfortunately, that was the highlight of the book for me. Everything that followed failed to capture my attention. We quickly learn how four random characters introduced in early chapters are interconnected through the orcamancer, who eve ...more
K.J. Charles
Oooh loved this. An intensely plausible post-climate-change dystopia set on a floating city in the Arctic waters. The city is a seething capitalist hellhole of grinding slum poverty and obscene wealth, very powerfully depicted. It's very diverse and queer as heck, narrated from the pov of about five different MCs whose plotlines meet and mingle very satisfyingly. This is SFF, magic/technology combo, with people bonded to animals via both shamanism and nanobots, and a sexually transmitted disease ...more
Adah Udechukwu
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Blackfish City is a great novel. If all comes together as the story progresses.
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
"Stories are where we find ourselves, where we find the others who are like us. Gather enough stories and soon you are not alone; you are an army."

This quote will certainly stay with me for quite a while.
Single stories are the elements the book is made of. We learn to know the floating arctic city and its social structure through the eyes of several characters whose lifes seem disconnected in the beginning. Interwoven between those POVs are pieces of information about the background in form of a
Holly (The Grimdragon)
“We want villains. We look for them everywhere. People to pin our misfortune on, whose sins and flaws are responsible for all the suffering we see. We want a world where the real monstrosity lies in wicked individuals, instead of being a fundamental facet of human society, of the human heart. 

Stories prime us to search for villains. Because villains can be punished. Villains can be stopped.

But villains are oversimplifications.”

Somehow I've read four science fiction books in a row with a similar
As dystopia goes, this one was a little different (and earns plenty of points for creativity - OK, I really liked the premise), moved along at a pretty good clip, and offered more than a handful of interesting characters (while some (and a couple of the important ones), for me, fell entirely flat) and story lines (sure, they all come together, but, the mosaic never really coalesced into anything magnificent, at least not for me)....

As a whole, I'm not quite sure I understand what all the buzz w
The Captain
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Ahoy there mateys! This is a beautifully written sci-fi novel with some extremely incredible world-building. In this version of our possible future, the world has flooded, the major world players have been destroyed, and humanity is clinging to existence in scattered parts of the world.

One of these locations is Qaanaaq, a floating city of a million people on the Arctic Circle. It reminds me of an oil rig city, has eight Arms, and is set up on a geothermal vent. All previous nationalities and rel
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The City in the Middle of the Night
  • A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan #1)
  • Rosewater (The Wormwood Trilogy, #1)
  • Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach
  • Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World, #1)
  • The Light Brigade
  • Witchmark (The Kingston Cycle, #1)
  • This Is How You Lose the Time War
  • The Raven Tower
  • The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut, #1)
  • Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb #1)
  • To Be Taught, If Fortunate
  • Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #2)
  • The City We Became (Great Cities, #1)
  • Space Opera
  • Semiosis (Semiosis Duology, #1)
  • The Future of Another Timeline
  • The Haunting of Tram Car 015 (Fatma el-Sha’arawi, #2)
See similar books…
Sam J. Miller is the last in a long line of butchers, and the Nebula-Award-winning author of THE ART OF STARVING, one of NPR's Best Books of the Year. His second novel, BLACKFISH CITY was a "Must Read" according to Entertainment Weekly and O: The Oprah Magazine, and one of the best books of 2018 according to the Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and more. He got gay-married in a guerrilla weddin ...more

Articles featuring this book

A medical student grappling with the afterlife. A misfit demigod who can turn her rivals into monsters. An office drone clocking in...
68 likes · 25 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“We want villains. We look for them everywhere. People to pin our misfortunate on. Whose sins and flaws are responsible for all the suffering we see. We want a world where the real monstrosity lies in wicked individuals. Instead of being a fundamental facet of human society, of the human heart.

Stories prime us to search for villains. Because villains can be punished. Villains can be stopped.

But villains are oversimplifications.”
“Fine line between good business and a fucking war crime,” he said. “Ain’t that the goddamn epitaph of capitalism.” 5 likes
More quotes…