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Blackfish City

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  1,720 Ratings  ·  350 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
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Kendall Grey It took me a while to understand what was happening too, but I just hit 45%, and my mind is officially BLOWN. I’m fully immersed now. I say keep…moreIt took me a while to understand what was happening too, but I just hit 45%, and my mind is officially BLOWN. I’m fully immersed now. I say keep reading!(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…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)

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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: 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Adah Udechukwu
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Blackfish City is a great novel. If all comes together as the story progresses.
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
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.
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
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
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
Terrific writing, super entertaining plot and world building. Incredible cast of diverse characters (PoC, LGBTQ)
Elle Maruska
I wish I'd liked this more :/

The worldbuilding is amazing. The titular city is a wonder of creativity, both fantastical and terrifyingly realistic at the same time. In the beginning I loved the different POVs, characters from various rungs of the city's social ladder moving through a world wracked by inequality and a strange deadly disease no one seems to understand. It reminded me a little bit of Malka Older's Infomocracy in that the worldbuilding and the POVs offer a wonderfully complex into a
Jul 23, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

4 stars for the wonderful world building and interesting characters (though I wish they had a bit more depth.)

3 stars for the structure of the book. It was hard to follow in the first half, maybe because it was a slow start and I wasn’t hooked in yet. I would read more from this author though. I believe it was his first novel.
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?

The writing is good, but if the central premise is nonsense, makes it all but impossible for me to suspend disbelief. Sigh.

DNF for the r
In Blackfish City, Sam J. Miller has crafted one of the richest and most interesting dystopian landscapes I’ve ever read. Set in a future ravished by climate change and climate wars, the book concerns the floating Arctic city of Qaanaaq. Ruled by a small elite class and near-autonomous AI, home to refugees from every corner of the “Sunken World”, plagued by corruption and unrest, a heady mess of culture, language, technology and tradition–Qaanaaq is a fictional city unlike any other.

The story is
Eclectisism Incarnate
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but it gave me a lot of things to love.

Humans bonding with animals.
An ensemble cast of characters, all of which I could enjoy (basically unheard of).
A non-binary character who prefers they/them/theirs pronouns.
A city that is somehow a character unto itself, given voice through uncanny means.
A complex story woven with several seemingly disparate threads.
And, overall, a feeling that I have not found anywhere else. An odd mixture of despair and wonder, p
Leo Robertson
I'd been excited for this one because I enjoy Miller's short stories (which appear just about everywhere "Best of the Year" is used.)

I had no idea this novel was set in the world of the first story I read of his, "Calved." That story made me think, who is this guy and is this what sci-fi can do? Answer: no, but it's what he can do! Read it yourself and see if this is a book for you :)

I was excited to see what would he would do with the world of "Calved" to expand it. The answer is, a whole lot!
Aug 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Blackfish City is about the artificial city of Qaanaaq that has sprung up in the ocean. Its residents are besieged by organized crime and ruthless politicians. A strange woman arrives in the island city on an orca, with a polar bear at her side. Whaaaaat, how cool does that sound? Well, it sounds cooler than it is. We don’t really hear from her until halfway through the novel. The book alternates between four or five – or maybe more, who’s counting at this point? – alternating narrative voices. ...more
A Superb novel!

In the beginning it was a little hard to understand all the things going on because the story follows a lot of characters in some distinct zones of the floating arctic city of Qaanaaq, a jewel of nanotechnology, in a time after a big climate disaster had ravaged the whole known world. The city itself, a conglomerate of races and people from all continents, it`s a marvel of sustainable engineering and, and easily becomes one of the main characters of the novel.

The central thread of
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sam J. Miller has created an extraordinary universe seething and simmering with extremely relevant political commentary laid out in a setting which truly isn't too far-fetched. His vision of a post-political and -social meltdown is one brought about by climate change. The humans finally screwed up enough that everything has melted and most of the world is underwater. The population adapted, creating floating cities. Cities that have amazing cultures and urgent problems.

Miller's characters are re
Mesmerising, disturbing, vivid portrayal of a future troubled world. The characters and ideas on display here are fascinating. There's so much going on but it's the characters and their strange relationships to each other, to animals and to their environment that dominates. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.
A woman arrives with an orca and a polar bear at a floating city in the Arctic Circle. That image starts this powerful dystopian novel that explores where rampant climate change and corruption has led humanity. This mysterious woman is the last of a people who are mind-melded to animals. Rich characters, plot twists and political and social commentary make this a memorable and vital novel that is being compared to Philip Pullman’s A Golden Compass.

"Life becomes significantly less stressful when
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Sam J. Miller's debut novel The Art of Starving (HarperTeen), rooted in his own adolescent experience with an eating disorder, was one of NPR's Best Books of 2017. His second novel, Blackfish City (Ecco Press/USA; Orbit/UK) was an Entertainment Weekly "Must Read." A finalist for multiple Nebula Awards along with the World Fantasy and Locus and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Awards, he has won the Shir ...more
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“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.”
“When had he become adult enough to give into childish joy?” 2 likes
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