Liviu's Reviews > Railsea

Railsea by China Miéville
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 2012_release_read, genre-sf, read_2012

Any China Mieville novel is a huge event and while last year's Embassytown was excellent, no book of his so far recaptured the genius of PSS and The Scar.

For the first half, Railsea was the most inventive Mieville book since those two mentioned above. Genius world building (think rails/trains and underground monsters instead of oceans, ships, whales and sharks - two kinds of land types and two kinds of sky types, mix and match of tech, some in the Roadside Picnic advanced aliens garbage kind) and very literary style while the storyline was building a lot of suspense.

The second half is more conventional - the storyline reverts to the familiar like in Embassytown and starts again treading on known ground with a lot of predictability and the book starts veering a little more in YA territory (YA is for me when children or YA have agency independent of adults in "big, world changing events" or in which the storyline is about their limited world/concerns like school and the like).

So for example if you read something like Eternity Road by J. McDevitt you will have a good idea of where Railsea goes and even - wqith the appropriate changes of course - how the plot will develop as the logic of this kind of story is followed by Mr. Mieville pretty directly.

Still the writing remains top notch and the action is fun with some more superb world building, but the sense of the limitless, of the "what is next?" is lost a little so Railsea is ultimately an excellent novel and a top 25 of mine, but not a once in a long time milestone like PSS or The Scar.

Highly recommended of course and fun, enjoyable to the end, no question about it

As usual, I will try to have a coherent review towards the publication date as the above are just raw thoughts, while incidentally the book is pure sf, no fantasy -nal elements
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Reading Progress

March 12, 2012 – Started Reading
March 12, 2012 – Shelved
March 21, 2012 – Shelved as: 2012_release_read
March 21, 2012 – Shelved as: genre-sf
March 21, 2012 – Shelved as: read_2012
March 21, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)

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message 1: by Glenn (new) - added it

Glenn I'm pleased to hear that Railsea pleased you. I agree the PSS & Scar are great China Mieville works. I have been left flat by some of his later work.

Kraken had some bits in it that were great fun - but over all I didn't much care by the end.

I would love to immerse into another Mieville world - perhaps Railsea can be that for me.

Thanks for the review.


Liviu Thank you for the kind words; Railsea has the genius Mieville world building so I think it will be what you want.


message 3: by unknown (last edited Mar 22, 2012 07:06PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

unknown In a sense, all of Mieville's books save perhaps The Scar become somewhat predictable in the latter half. Perdido becomes one long bug hunt (albeit with surprises along the way), and City & the City never really paid off the idea of "Breach" in a satisfying way, settling for a routine solution to the murder mystery instead. Don't get me wrong -- I enjoy all his books -- but his genius really is world-building and prose over inventive plotting.


Liviu But that is part of the problem as once you wrote groundbreaking books like PSS and the Scar, they become a yardstick; I would say that as ingenuity goes, Railsea is the closest to those, only that I wished the unpredictability stayed a little longer...


message 5: by Ric (new) - added it

Ric Thanks for the review. Am looking forward to getting into this new Mieville, however, not until I'm done with The Scar (New Crobuzon, #2) by China Miéville.


Liviu agree with what you say about CM's work going more beyond the sff audience; this one has the potential sure, but as always the "general reader's" reaction is hard to predict


Derek LOL. I love how two people can think an author is so good as to rate 5-star reviews - and so completely disagree over which ones those are! Embassytown & The City & The City were 5-star stories; The Scar was slow, boring, and eventually inconclusive - like Moby Dick.


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