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Looking for Jake

(New Crobuzon)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  5,464 ratings  ·  419 reviews
What William Gibson did for science fiction, China Miéville has done for fantasy, shattering old paradigms with fiercely imaginative works of startling, often shocking, intensity. Now from this brilliant young writer comes a groundbreaking collection of stories, many of them previously unavailable in the United States, and including four never-before-published tales–one se ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 30th 2005 by Del Rey (first published January 1st 2003)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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Apr 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Joel by: Jacob
The name China Miéville isn't generally synonymous with short stories, probably because he doesn't write them that often. In the past decade, he's published 10 novels, and in the same span, produced only 16 pieces of short fiction. I mean, whatever. Dude is busy. I think he also became an economics genius, ran for political office, and did about 3 million arm curls during that decade too. Oh, and got a giant squid tattoo.

Anyway, it's pretty annoying to discover that he also does short fiction a
Mar 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
China Mieville is not necessarily known for his work in shorter works, but Looking For Jake, his 2005 collection of shorter fiction is an excellent representation of his narrative skill and for his redoubtable imagination. Mieville sets a mood, creates an emotion that stays with the reader throughout what turns out to be a diverse and dusky eclectic blend of creepy and dark fiction.

Looking for Jake – The opening salvo and titular short story is an artfully creepy sketch. An man searches for a fr
Paul Sánchez Keighley
I’ve hesitated to take the plunge into this collection for quite a while. Despite loving Miéville’s novels, I somehow couldn’t imagine his style working as well in short-story format. Well, his Miévilleness has proved me wrong. I'm not going to delve into plot details in these bullet reviews because part of the fun was going into each story blindly, unaware of what kind of crazy you'd be faced with at each turn of the page.

Looking for Jake: A chilling and ominous overture. A low-key atmospheric
Jul 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Matters shuffle along, pressed and steamed by the incessant heat. Each piece in this collection appears more climate controlled, as if penned upon a sofa while listening to The Fall and waiting for delivery Korean barbecue. You can recognize my resentment. I wanted to read Thomas Ligotti last night to no avail. Then early this morning when it was already jungle muggy outside. I read a story Reports of Certain Events in London, and this I was pleased by found documents, amateur societies and phan ...more
Lars Dradrach
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
A mixed bag, but mostly good.


""Looking for Jake" 4.5 stars
Classic Mieville - one long letter to Jake chronicling the breakdown of London, true to form it's difficult to discern of the Breakdown is in the real world or within the author.

"Go Between" 4.5 stars
A truly disturbing story about a man getting strange directives hidden within everyday objects he buys, he ponders about the nature of the directives are they good or evil, do they actually matter in the real world ?, the insight
Phillip Smith
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
In this collection, China Mieville let me know very quickly that he is an author that just goes for it, that trusts his skill and creative versatility to tell unusual tales. Most of the time, it works. My favorites include The Tain, Details, Different Skies, and The Ball Room (the best one, IMO).

A very good outing by one of weird fiction's most creative authors.
Jan 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook, fantasy
I really enjoyed half of the novels that I've read by Mieville, and rather disliked the other half. Likewise, in this collection of stories, I enjoyed about half of them. The other half were boring. That is why I've rated this book with three out of five stars. Here are some brief summaries of a few of the stories.

The first story, titled "Looking for Jake", was one of the boring stories. People in London start disappearing randomly, and the protagonist looks for his friend Jake. There didn't see
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
3.5 stars. Great to revisit New Crobuzon again! Recommended for fans of Perdido Street Station.

Merged review:

A wonderful, HPL inspired, chilling story.

Merged review:

Mieville knocks some of these out of the park, proving his talent for creating dark, immersive and wildly imaginative settings like you've never seen, or even dreamed before, in the shortest of stories. Rating based on the following:

Details (5.0) - The devil is in the details. Mieville wonderfully channels the spirit of HPL in this c
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
One of those rare occasions where I got to borrow a book from my girlfriend. (She has good taste, but since she lives in Belgium, I tend to encounter books first. But this one I kept meaning to pick up and somehow didn't.) I wasn't sure what I thought of the idea of China Miéville doing short stories: his novels are so often so sprawling, so full of gleefully grotesque imagery, that I didn't think he could contain himself within a short story.

He can.

Some of the stories are more effective than ot
Aug 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'm only halfway through reading this one, but hell, it might the best single-author short story collection I've ever read.

*Now I finished reading and it's official - I'm really not sure if I have read a F/SF collection penned by a single author which would go on par with this one - I liked it even more than the one by Ted Chiang I read earlier this year, and that's something. Surely it had its weaker points - for me, those were particularly "Familiar", "'Tis The Season" and "An End to Hunger" -
Feb 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of short stories that range from sci-fi, horror, and fantasy all told with a compelling voice that kept me intrigued throughout each tale. The shorts are various lengths, with the longest being a bit under 100 pages. I had never read anything by China Mieville and found this to fulfill my collection of short stories for a challenge. I'd read reviews comparing him to HP Lovecraft, and I can now see how that comparison could be made. The writing style and the subject matter of the sto ...more
Michael Battaglia
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Maybe this says something about me, but so far I haven't found the "New Weird" writers that weird overall. I'm glad that writers are trying to carry on with strangeness of Lovecraft and company without all the blatant racism but what it seems like for me is that too often the writers think having a strange concept is enough to make the story stand out without having to generate the requisite atmosphere to make the situation truly unsettling.

Apparently the term was coined by M John Harrison in an
Jan 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Something I keep coming back to with China Mieville is how much he trusts his readers to not give up when they get confused. His favorite method of introducing you to ANYTHING is to drop you in the middle of a situation (or a city, or a world), and feed you little tidbits of an explanation until you finally know what's going on. Or don't. And the gaps in the information will stay in your brain so much longer than if he'd gone point-by-point through the story.

The short stories don't leave as much
Aug 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another brilliant, if bleak, effort from Miéville.

If I had to choose one word to tie in all of these short stories (and one novella, The Tain), I'd have to say "paranoia". Almost every story involves a character fearful of something — often without obvious cause.

Miéville's wordplay is, as always, amazing. The title of  The Tain is hugely obscure, and yet right out of a dictionary: the tain is the reflective silver backing of a mirror. The creatures that come from the tain call t
I have to say I'm a bit disappointed in this book. Generally I like China Miéville books but this one didn't do it for me. I'm not really a short story fan to begin with but I was hoping such a talented writer could do it. Not this time.

A lot of the stories really felt like he was being clever for clevers sake. Lots of vague endings and cryptic meanings. I read a fiction to be entertained, to be told a story. Sometimes a vague ending can be ok but not in almost every single story. Nothing is eve
Sandi (Zorena)
Sometimes short stories are a great way to introduce yourself to an author you haven't read before. I found China Mieville while reading an anthology and was intrigued but not sure if I would like him so I found his collection of short stories.

If these are fantasy I would call them dark fantasy for lack of a better word. In all truth I would label them as mostly horror with some science fiction thrown in but it seems that Mieville wants a different label. I'm not saying that I don't like his wri
George Papuchis
Dec 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Looking For Jake: Good post-apocalypse story 8/10

Foundation: Haunted buildings who's ghosts are in the foundations... What? 6/10

Ball Room: A haunted ball pit in an Ikea. Fuck yea 9/10

Reports of Certain Events in London: Meta story about living streets. Didn't do it for me 5/10

Familiar: Gross 7.5/10

Entry Taken From A Medical Encyclopaedia: Quick and fun fake entry of a parasitic disease. 8/10

Details: Really cool. 9/10

Go Between: 8/10

Different Skies: Good old school horror about a haunted object b
Jun 30, 2018 rated it liked it
This is probably the most uneven collection of short fiction that I’ve ever read. It embodies the “mixed bag” metaphor perfectly. Some stories were good to great and others were either tedious or completely unenjoyable. Mieville is obviously a very skilled writer and when he’s on, he does amazing things with his fiction. I enjoyed the amalgam of literary genres present throughout this collection. The transition from fantasy, horror, science fiction, “weird” fiction, speculative fiction, satire, ...more
Rui Mateus
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2019-reads
As always, Miéville's writing style is amazing. But I have to admit that his short fiction is not as impressive as his longer novels. I already had that impression when I read Three Moments of an Explosion. However, some of the stories here are really good and I loved them. Some were reminiscent of his other novels and that's one of the reasons I liked this one. ...more
Eustacia Tan
Mar 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
After reading Un Lun Dun by China Mieville, I went to the library to search for more books by him. Bearing in mind that I'm leaving soon and can't make many (if any) more trips to the library, I decided to get a book of his short stories. I think it's because of the variety, but other than that, maybe it's because I couldn't decide on a novel.

After reading it, one thing sticks in my mind: the prose is fantastic. Especially the Teaser Tuesday quote that I shared with you. Throughout the book, th
Robert Beveridge
Apr 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
China Mieville, Looking for Jake (Del Rey, 2005)

Looking for Jake made me do something I've never done with a China Mieville book before-- laugh out loud while reading it. Yes, the boy does have a sense of humor that's not cynical and grease-blackened every once in a while, and it's quite refreshing to see. I grant you, the whole collection doesn't have that feel to it, but it's certainly here, and I love it. I love it just as much as I love the rest of this book, and for that matter as much as I
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
There is so much to learn. Mieville's writing always makes me want to write with his mixture of tight control and elaborate horror-fantasy. This collection of stories from 1998-2005 tends toward the horror side: I couldn't finish "Familiar" because of the ambulatory wad of gore. Other stories are fantasy gems that scare because of real-world fears: aging, purposelessness, vast forces out of one's control, a torturer who silently roots for their victim's philosophy.

Only "'Tis the Season" felt ou
Aug 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Fantastic short stories from China Mieville. It was great seeing this author tackle short fiction so effectively.

There is one Bas Lag story for fans of Perdido Street, the Scar and Iron Council. But I had the most fun reading the other stories, where Mieville's awesomely weird sensibilities are turned upon our own world. 'An End To Hunger' is one of the coolest hacker stories I've ever read. 'Familiar' feels like a Bas Lag creature let loose in modern London. Really, I loved the whole book, with
Bryan Murphy
Sep 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
In these stories, Miéville throws out, and plays with, ideas that he might incorporate or turn into major novels, though some of these ideas seem destined to fall by the wayside.
Miéville is one of the few writers able to subvert the inherently reactionary nature of the fantasy genre, which asks us to believe in things which we know ain’t so and cannot become so. Science fiction, in contrast, asks us to believe in things which we know ain’t so but which may become so, often with the rider “if we
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
While there are some brilliant pieces in here, i was really disappointed by this collection. Mieville normally gets four or five stars from me, but this really felt like reading scraps from a writers' notebook, or reading a series of drafts. Perhaps short stories are not his forte?

The ideas are often great, it's the stories themselves felt a bit rushed and unpolished. i find Mieville's one weakness is how to end a story, and i guess this becomes more of a problem in a short story collection. Tha
Jun 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I haven't read Mieville's novels, but he is a master of the short story format. I enjoyed all of the stories in this book, because they made me think and fear and wonder at all the hidden things behind the world that we see.

A fascinating mix. I enjoyed The Tain (the novella) and Reports of Certain Events in London the best, but there was no story where I felt disappointed.
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of short stories and so inevitably a bit mixed. Highlights included 'Foundation', 'The Ball Room', 'Reports of Certain Events in London', 'Familiar', 'Entry Taken From A Medical Encyclopaedia', 'Go Between' and the novella 'The Tain'. I thought those had a stronger central conceit and felt better worked through. Others, like 'Details', 'Different Skies' and 'An End to Hunger', felt a little weaker- more like Mieville was experimenting, or had lost grasp of his point. The Bas-Lug sho ...more
patrycja polczyk
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Yes, it took me a very long time to finish this book. I was taking a break after almost every story. I got to 50% and got totally stuck. When I've moved on, it took me only few days to finish it. I have mixed feelings about this collection of stories. I liked two of them a lot - "An End to Hunger" and "'Tis the Season". Others, I liked, are "Foundation", "Details" and "Jack". "The Ball Room" was pretty good, but I didn't like the ending. Mieville stories aren't easy read, they are all bit weird ...more
David Hebblethwaite
Oct 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
“‘It lives in the details,’ she said. ‘It travels in that…in that perception. It moves through those chance meetings of lines. Maybe you glimpse it sometimes when you stare at clouds, and then maybe it might catch a glimpse of you, too.’”

He may be best known as a novelist, but China Miéville’s short fiction is worthy of attention, too. Reading the stories collected in Looking for Jake, I feel as though I’ve gained a fresh understanding of his concerns as a writer. Miéville has often used the ter
Roxana Dreptu
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First book I read by Mieville. Very intense and very well written. I found Foundation shocking to the point where it physically gave me nausea - I felt like losing all hope in humanity. Some other stories are thought provoking in a Black Mirror way. I was surprised also by the different styles and genres of storytelling - police reports, comics, and even my first encounter with the Bas-Lag universe.
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A British "fantastic fiction" writer. He is fond of describing his work as "weird fiction" (after early 20th century pulp and horror writers such as H. P. Lovecraft), and belongs to a loose group of writers sometimes called New Weird who consciously attempt to move fantasy away from commercial, genre clichés of Tolkien epigons. He is also active in left-wing politics as a member of the Socialist W ...more

Other books in the series

New Crobuzon (3 books)
  • Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon, #1)
  • The Scar (New Crobuzon, #2)
  • Iron Council (New Crobuzon, #3)

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