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509 pages, Hardcover
First published January 1, 2010
"In a city like London... Stop: that was an unhelpful way to think about it, because there was no city like London. That was the point."- Miéville is amazing at creating fully alive weird cities and making them be real protagonists of his stories (examples: New Crobuzon, Armada, Beszél/Ul Qoma, UnLondon). Here, his setting is contemporary London that apparently has a secret supernatural side to it, which is still firmly ground in reality. I mean, it's the place where the paranormal creatures form picket lines, for crying out loud.
"The strike paralysed large sections of occult industry. The economy of gods and monsters was stagnating."Which neatly takes me to my next point:
"There were pickets of insects, pickets of birds, pickets of slightly animate dirt. There were circles of striking cats and dogs, surreptitious doll-pickets like grubby motionless picnics; and flesh-puppets, pickets of what looked like and in some cases had once been humans."
'He knows religion is bollocks,' Collingswood said. 'He just wishes he didn't. That's why he understands the nutters. That's why he hunts them. He misses pure faith. He's jealous.'- There are so many side characters that are unbelievably fascinating and each one of them could easily merit an entire book to him/herself. The cast is quite an interesting ensemble, to say the least. However...
"Just because someone uses something wrong doesn't mean it's useless."Final verdict - 3 stars. Read this one if you are an established Miéville fan. Probably stay clear of it if you're just trying to get into CM writing - pick up "Perdido Street Station", "Un Lun Dun", "The Scar" or "The City & The City instead and leave this for the time when you're so hooked on Miéville that you are ready to read even his grocery list (and believe me, that time WILL come!)
"You may not be interested in the gods of London, but they're interested in you."
There were pickets of insects, pickets of birds, pickets of slightly animate dirt. There were circles of striking cats and dogs, surreptitious doll-pickets like grubby motionless picnics; and flesh-puppets, pickets of what looked like and in some cases had once been humans.That kind of writing and descriptions just floors me and makes my brain juice bubble. And these kinds of paragraphs are all over this work.
Not all the familiars were embodied. But even those magicked assistants who eschewed all physicality were on strike. So – a picket line in the unearth. A clot of angry vectors, a verdigris-like stain on the air, an excitable parameter. Mostly, in the middlingly complex space-time where people live, these pickets looked like nothing at all. Sometimes they felt like warmth or a gauzy clot of caterpillar threads hanging from a tree, or a sense of guilt.
Let’s make one thing clear: China Miéville is way too ripped for his chosen profession. Being the new demigod of speculative/weird English fiction, he should by rights be some kind of hunch-backed, bespectacled, bowl-haircut paradigm of nerd. Instead he’s an Adonis, a Hercules, a shaven-headed Atlas – standing out among his many accolades is the coveted “best guns in literature” award; a title he seems unlikely to yield anytime soon.