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Railsea
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Railsea Group 2

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message 1: by Nazifa (new)

Nazifa | 10 comments This group consists of Nazifa, Tabeer, Kevin and Geli

In the book "Railsea" by China Mieville, the author focuses primarily on the setting, the animals found and the protagonist Sham. Sham is a young man who works on a train with the rest of the crew and for some reason, all the members are afraid of the ground/Earth. It is stated in the text that "he shivered to be so close to the earth" and that "the earth wasn't literal poison. It had been many years since he'd thought it would kill him just to touch it. But it certainly was for real, dangerous. His whole life he'd been trained to avoid it." It can be inferred that this uneasiness of the earth can be found due to the over sized, vicious and carnivorous animals such as the naked mole rats being found below the ground. I believe that in the world Sham lives in, humans are at the bottom of the food chain, and that most normal animals such as cats, birds and moles, have evolved over time and have become a threat for the human race. In fact, it was stated in the text "there are predators on the islands too, of course above the ground. Hill cats, wolves, monitor lizards, aggressive flightless birds and all manner of other bite & horrors & kill the unwary." To me, the world that Sham lives in seems to reflect our own like a mirror image except for the fact that its more violent and…dark. It also raises many questions in my mind such as where people reside in if they are so afraid of being close to the ground. I also wonder if the world Sham resides in was always like that or if there was a time that was peaceful and had humans at the top of the food chain. If it was peaceful, what caused it to change? In addition to over sized animals living underground, I think that people may be afraid of the ground because of any radiation that might be in it and can affect their health. Whatever the cause is, it impacts those who are on the mole train by making them be more courageous, scared, and kind of crazy.

While reading, I found the text to be very difficult to understand since there is a lot of complicated vocabulary attached to it. The way the story is written is very interesting because to me, it sounds like a mixture of old English (such as shake sphere's work) and modern English. I am also curious to know why the author writes & instead of "and." It makes me wonder if there is a certain reason he uses & half the time and the normal "and" the other half. Does he do that to show a reader an important part in the text or is he just lazy half of the time? I also found the prologue to be very interesting because rather than showing a beginning, it seems to show an ending… and a dark one. I think that the authors purpose of writing a dark prologue was to make the reader wonder why it was so dark and what made it dark. It arises questions that can only be answered from reading the book. The author may have written "Railsea" in a complicated way in order to make the reader slow down, understand exactly what's going on, and not miss out on any of the tiny important details that he hints out through the chapters.


message 2: by Tabeer (new) - added it

Tabeer Sajjad | 9 comments In addition to Nazifa, I found one more interesting thing about the prologue. This being how in the prologue says "Into reverse: let this engine go back. Just to before this boy was bloodied, there pause & go forward again to see how we got here, to red, to music, to chaos, to a big question mark in a young man's head." These words are immediately followed up with chapter 1 which begins with "a meat island! No. Back a bit. A looming car case? A bit more. Here. Weeks out, back when it was colder." Evidently, it's like the author was foreshadowing what he would be doing in the following chapter, just like he said, he was going the engine go back, which may have been the train Sham is on that possibly caused him to become bloodied, and the way he worded the beginning of chapter 1 makes it seem like he had been debating with himself about how far back it was necessary to go to understand how we got to the bloodied boy. Also on page 17, the author states, "so Sham became the gore-stained boy, swaying like a young tree, quite red. Not knowing what to turn his mind to." While chapter one shows the beginning of the authors statement as if it came true, page 17 shows the conclusion of the statement, illuminating the red the reader has now reached again like in the prologue and how the boy had the "big question mark" that questioned what the boy was supposed to think about.

In this book, one main question I have is what are the characters backstories and what is their driving force, because the author introduces character actions and Sham's inner thoughts which allows the reader to get a bit of an understanding of the characters nature but because we don't know their origin it causes curiosity. For example, Captain Naphi has her arm presumable amputated (because she has a metal bulky arm) which makes makes me wonder if the moles were responsible. Furthermore when Sham who is most likely an assistant doctor ends up having to go salvage and retrieves an item, he initially lied when Naphi asked him if he found anything but ended up giving the item to her, even then he wished he kept it and seemed to regret giving it to her. This exchange between the character made me wonder why Sham wanted to keep the item in the first place and why Naphi was so intent on knowing if he found anything because during previous interactions the only verbals exchange they had involved Naphi saying one or two words in response to him, perhaps it's because in their past that is still not revealed, an event occurred to them that connected them to the moles or the trains and made them wish to keep what was salvaged.


message 3: by Geli (new)

Geli | 5 comments The first chapter or prologue is confusing as it begin with a event that has already happened and then explain how they got there. I think the author did this to captive the reader and keep them interested. The way he present information is very complex as he used multiple advance vocabulary and is very descriptive. One of the things that make this book hard to understand is that there is a lack of information on certain things in the book like other levels and nations. Also characters have funny names, that are hard and confusing to pronounce. I fing this interesting became as I read more chapter all the character seem to have the same hard to pronounce names. None of them simple name like Dave or Ray. Also there seems to be fictional monster present on the book like the giant monster that are based on real life creature such as bats, moles and etc. The earth is also seem to be divided into 4 section or level. While the book seems to be set in the distant future but doesn't mention any specific advances in technology. Even though the author doesn't say it but with all the dangerous monster that are in the book, then the human would be near the bottom of the food chain.


message 4: by Nazifa (new)

Nazifa | 10 comments While reading today, I noticed that Sham seems to be very disappointed with having the small camera item that he found a few chapters earlier, taken from him. I remember recalling something about how there was a "finders rule" in which whatever you find, you get to keep. Since rules applied on the train are followed in a orderly fashion, why did the Captain break the rule by taking the item from Sham? If there wasn't much importance then Sham would most likely have been able to keep the camera peice but the fact that he couldn't shows that maybe the author is trying to hint something important to the readers. I believe that the camera peice could leave a clue to one of 2 things:

1) Shams past. In one of the chapters that we read in the previous reading session, Sham stated that " it was my cousins. I ain't got a... The last four words sounded loud to him & he closed his mouth before mum and dad could get past his teeth and dampen the evening." It can be inferred that Sham was disappointed with the item that he found in the locations where his cousins crashed, taken away because it stripped him of finding a clue of his past. Throughout the entire story so far, there is no information about Shams background such as where he was born, who his parents were and what happened to them. By having a clue to Shams past be taken away from him, I believe that the author is trying to make Sham get it back. And considering how dark the prologue was, the path Sham will take to retrieve the item peice and may be difficult and filled with hidden secrets. Since the book hasn't really created a major problem for Sham to overcome, I believe that trying to get the camera peice back would lead him into an ugly mess. The camera peice itself may contain information that can change the way Sham views the things around him.

2) The camera peice can also lead Sham to discovering what made the world that he lives in so dark. Throughout the entire book the one question that has been constantly being bought up but not answered is: how did society turn out like this? Since the camera peice is a thing of the past, the captain would have most likely taken it for 2 reasons: to find out what made society change or to prevent anyone else from going the information that the camera piece contains.

Overall the camera piece plays a major role in the story because not only did the captain take it from Sham (something that he isn't supposed to do),other characters seem to be interested when they heard from Sham that it was a Camera peice.

The camera piece symbolized mystery because no one knows what kind of information it contains. Be it good or bad, it can be depicted that the camera piece plays a major role in the future of the world that Sham lives in, and his own future as well.

Do you guys agree?


message 5: by Tabeer (new) - added it

Tabeer Sajjad | 9 comments I understand Nazifa's question and it's origin because I am also curious about why the Captain took away the camera memory card when the book clearly illuminates that the "finders keepers" idea is in effect but I don't entirely agree that it's his cousin's role that is causing him to wish to keep the item but his fathers. This is because the book briefly covers the fact that his father dies because his train had gotten wrecked, possibly because of the oversized mole's that threaten them consistently, especially on the trains because a possible objective those a part of the train is to eliminate the mole's by killing them and understanding them and their growth and his father may have been a part of an unfortunate accident that was caused by a more abnormal mole. It is possible that because Sham doesn't truly know how his father was killed, this curiosity became a driving force for makes him wish to remain on the train because he wishes to know more about the enemy because he was directly impacted because he lost both of his parents, the cause of his mother's death being currently unknown to the reader.

I also agree with Nazifa's inference because of how the camera's memory card seems like it is an extremely rare item to be found, which is shown by the entire crew's curiosity towards it. It may also be a key aspect that will develop the story because of the fact that information that is crucial to their mission may be found on the card and this may be a reason that the captain had taken it from Sham. Even though she is technically not supposed to because of the "finders rule" they established, she may have taken it because she wished to find an item that will be able to read the camera chip and can unveil the information it may hold, something that couldn't have happened if she let Sham keep the card. Thus, even though she was breaking the "rules" that were made, she is only doing so, so they won't all die in vain and uninformed about why they were fighting.

Regarding the camera's memory chip, I feel as if whoever left it behind had predicted that it would be found sometime or another and understood that because you cannot see what is on the chip directly, the curiosity of the human mind would compel the finder of the chip to search for an answer and because such an item is not common, the finder would pay more attention to the chip and the meaning behind its information because they would believe that there is more than what meets the eye because it is not something they are accustomed to finding and having to decode and would think that there is a reason behind using a memory chip that is small in size and may never be found in comparison to a picture. This may possibly be because the person who left it behind wished for it to remain preserved and even if it may not be found immediately, the fact that it exists is consolation itself.


message 6: by Nazifa (new)

Nazifa | 10 comments While reading more of the book today, the ideas that I mentioned last week can be completely refuted. This is because the memory chip had nothing to do with the 2 possible options that I mentioned. The camera piece actually belonged to two new characters that were introduced in the book- Caldero or "Dero" as he prefers and his sister Caldera. Sham's encounter with the owner of the camera pieces answers several questions and arises new ones. We now know that the camera piece has nothing to do with Shams past or the things happening in society but what we don't know is why there are now several different groups of people that are after him. Throughout the past 2-3 chapters, there were groups of people that carefully watched sham from far away and followed him. Why are they doing this? The first group was after Sham's belongings but the person who followed Sham after he left Dero and Caldera's house seem to be directly after him. I wonder why this is the case. Sham seems to be a normal and decent guy and doesn't seem to hold any item of importance, so him being followed is kind of alarming.

Perhaps Sham's mysterious stalkers may be a part of an upcoming problem. After all, we haven't really had a major/main problem occur in the book yet. The only one that was a bit alarming was when one of the crew members got their legs bit off by a mole but he's fine now. The author primarily focuses on the different areas that the mole train visited. He describes how those areas look and the type of people that reside there. The author also gives more information about Sham such as his personal interests. Turns out, Sham does not want to be a doctors assistant, he wants to be a salvage- a person who looks for valuable items. In the text it was stated that "I mean, all the searching though, Sham said, his voice coming quicker the more he spoke. That's got to be existing, ain't it? Finding things no ones found before , digging down, finding more, uncovering the past, making new things, all the time learning this & that." I believe that Sham's strong desire to be a salvager may lead up to the possible problem that we have yet to read in the book. Sham seems to be very interested in learning about the things in the past and then using the data gathered to create things for the future. He has a bright mind and thinks of things that Caldero would call a "myth." For instance, Sham thought that "I heard there was ways of building artificial people. Out of this stuff. He indicated the salvage." Perhaps Shams desire in becoming a salvager and building stuff for a brighter future may lead him to his ultimate downfall because he may get closer to discovering information about the things that occurred in the past. Some people (such as the ones watching him) don’t want that to happen and perhaps are trying to eliminate him before he becomes a major threat. Remember, no matter how many numerous accomplishments that Sham makes, he is bound to fall at a certain point because of the descriptions given in the dark prologue. We just don't know when that certain "point" is going to be.


message 7: by Tabeer (new) - added it

Tabeer Sajjad | 9 comments I would like to add on to what Nazifa was saying about the memory chip, this memory chip being the cause of conflict in the story. I actually think that while the information the chip hold may not directly relate to Sham, it probably holds some other meaning behind it that will cause the story to shift, though this meaning is what we do not yet know. This is because when the man was following, Sham went to the lady to support and she said "'we take care of our visitors in Manihiki...as I'm sure did the Shroakes. What was it you were talking to them about?' The question came out of her mouth without the slightest change of tone...she was looking at him not in suspicion but unspoken communication." The lady who was undoubtedly allianced with the man following Sham isn't curious to know about who he is as a person but is curious about the information he holds. This information being directly related to the memory chip so I think that Sham actually holds something crucial that will cause the story to develop, his knowledge and curiosity and because of this, he is being targeted. Though I wonder how far his curiosity will take him and if it will end up being his end.

One thing that was a great cause for question in the book as Nazifa has asked in an earlier discussion is, why does the author replace the word "and" with "&" and this is finally answered on page 163, and what I would like to point out is that this compares to the picture that Sham had seen of the singular train rail, this picture being a driving force that caused him and the story to develop. In a sense, the "&" symbol is like the rail in the sense that it is a single rail that continues on.

Something I would also like to point out about how the author writes is that he sometimes writes a chapter in 2 pages. For example chapter 30, and I think that the purpose of this is to establish some ideas and questions that he may point out himself, not really describing the event but leading up to it, building these ideas up just to end up being put in the back of the reader's mind. On page 149 the author writes, "let fight equal x. Was this just a play x? An x to the death? An x for honor? A drunken x?" by implying "fight" but not directly stating it to be "fight", the author prompts the reader to question if x is really "fight" and if that is really the background meaning of his words or if there is something else behind it this question also being urged when the reader finds out that Sham is not being fought with but just mugged.

Also just as an idea to put out, how can we be absolutely sure that the bloodstained boy from the prologue is Sham and is not someone that ended up suffering because of Shams stained actions caused by his curiosity? And how can we know if Sham actually care about his parent's death even though he seamlessly brushes it off, he wishes to be able to salvage something from his past and would do anything if given the opportunity?


message 8: by Geli (new)

Geli | 5 comments I think there is more to the guy that saved sham, it was mysterious or weird how he was following him and in the text he hesitated when sham asked him a question. I don't remember the question but he kind of paused before answering.Also it is becoming rather clear that sham would rather work on salvage ship. I think more problem will arise after meeting this new pirate character. Because pirates have an image of being ruthless, cruel and criminal type of people so if sham does get involved with him then there will be more problems later on.


message 9: by Nazifa (new)

Nazifa | 10 comments After reading more of the book "Railsea," questions on how society came to be were answered yet unanswered at the same time. Religion and beliefs play a huge role in how history came to be because it creates a division of two sides- the believers and the non-believers. The believers think that gods were the ones that created Railsea and that there is nothing beyond its rails. Sham, who is a believer himself stated that "what we were told- you know- it all comes from That Apt Ohm." Sham thinks that That Apt Ohm was the strongest god and due to dispute between the other gods, Railsea was created. Non- believers on the other hand, such as Caldera Sharoke believe that its railway companies that were the cause of the damage. She says that due to them wanting more and more land and setting traps for one another, the land became filled with chemicals and the up sky- which was a layer of pollution- was created as a result of it. Caldera questions the creation of society and doesn't believe that god was the one who made it- as depicted in the way she constantly asks questions about it. In the text, it was stated that "Stregge, you said? what do you think? were the rails put down by god? Were they extruded from the ground? were they written in heavenly script that people unknowingly recited as they traveled? were the rails produced by as-yet -not understood natural processes? Some radicals said there were no gods at all."

I honestly feel that the railroad companies were the reason why society would become like that. It would actually make sense. If companies put chemicals in the ground to push away the other companies, then it would explain what caused the moles to evolve and become so monstrous. It would explain why the society was filled with so mainly trains. It would explain why the sky is so polluted. I believe that Sham also agrees with Caldera's theory even though he states that Railsea was made by god. Sham must be starting to realize that Caldera's theory sound more realistic and for that reason, is growing more and more nervous as she talks about it. He doesn't want to think that all the things he learned growing up were lies. Sham probably is telling himself that what he learned is correct but the fact that what caldera is talking about also is correct is what makes him utterly nervous.

I believe that Sham finding out about Railsea's history is the climax/ turning point of the book. He can choose between staying in his old life and do the things he normally would or go with Caldera and Dero on their mission to uncover the secrets that they parents wanted to remain hidden. With all secrets that could potentially bring harm to Sham, if he chooses to uncover the mysteries, there will be no turning back.....


message 10: by Geli (new)

Geli | 5 comments I agree with that nazifa that religion does play a part in how society came to be. The two divided side the believe or those who agree with sham that gods fighting were probably the railsea came to be and other side that agrees with caldera that the society in the book was the result of competition between companies that went out of hand. This related to the book's genre dystopian because you either one side or another. The events occurring in the book follow the same structure of a normal dystopian book like how at first sham believe that gods were the reason the railsea came to be but now as he reliaze that what caldera makes much more sense. But he is having hard time because everything he know could be wrong. Also another thing I was interested in was the rumors about someone following them and all the shady character that are starting to appear more and more, like the suspicion person outside shroaks arch and the pirate boy who seemed to have been following him and saved him. But what I found strange is that he just mention it a bit and moves on and doesn't go deep into it.


message 11: by Tabeer (new) - added it

Tabeer Sajjad | 9 comments I strongly agree with Nazifa's point about how this is the climax of the story and depending on how Sham chooses to proceed with his life, either choosing to stay with his crew on the mole train the Medes or just learning more about the true reality he is in and going along with the Shroakes and exploring, he may end up feeling great regret or a sense of relief. In this part of the text, Sham's inner thought of what he wishes are shown which is that "he wanted to hear these salvage stories, to rummage through the house." It's like Sham is oppressing himself and not allowing himself to give in to what he wants to do, this opportunity to make a decision also gives him the choice which may allow him to fulfill what he truly wants to do.

Regarding the siblings, they are being followed and they know this which is shown by how Dero in response to Sham's concern says "' well yeah'" shrugging after these words and saying this as if it is an everything occurrence and is nothing to worry about. I think that this "carelessness" that Dero has may end up backfiring on him because it is as if he doesn't truly understand the dangers and the situation they're in and this misinterpretation of his situation may be a downfall that may become evident if Sham chooses to join the Shroakes. Also, while we know and understand that Sham means no true harm and is not an enemy to the Shroakes, what if he was not as good as he appears and was dangerous to the Shroakes because while they had been initially cautious to Sham's presence, once he showed them the memory chip and had provided some explanation they had slowly but surely trusted him. Caldera also said to "think about it...then we'll go. So by then you have to decide if your coming with us", even though Sham isn't a threat, how could she have been ready to have him join them, is it because she wished to be able to believe that he wouldn't target them? Or does she understand how he doesn't seem to fit with the rest and she is trying to help him find where he fits and belongs by giving him an option? Are the siblings acting cautious with their decisions or is it just recklessness? And, are there any others who are Shroakes?
Furthermore, is everyone just fighting for nothing and the end of what they call the rail sea is simply a hoax and a dream, and if they do leave, is it a better world out there or is it worse, and the world they live in is actually better and was established so they don't face the greater dangers their ancestors left for them in their business quarrel?

Another interesting idea in the book is the one about philosophies. It is like when you have a philosophy you gain some type of respect, the captain of the Medes for example, has her own philosophy that is greatly respected and brought up on different occasions. Sham had also said that "' I think' Sham said slowly, trying to think it through 'they wanted me to do well, maybe even get my own philosophy.'" I think that having a philosophy is in a sense respected because it shows that you are different and have a different lens regarding the world and it is not based upon what you are taught when you are younger about how the rail sea came to be but what you learn through your journey. This exchange may possibly foreshadow Sham becoming the captain with his own philosophy of a train in the future of the story, though in his case, he may be the first to journey out of the rail sea and lead others to a new world that is desired by everyone.


message 12: by Nazifa (last edited Feb 27, 2017 01:48PM) (new)

Nazifa | 10 comments After reading more of the book "Railsea" today, I noticed something very interesting. In the first page of part 4, the author had stated "our minds we salvage from history's rubbish & they are machines into story. This is the story of a blood-stained boy." Sound familiar anyone? This is the story of a blood-stained boy. these exact words were the very first line that we have read in the prologue. Word for word, the exact same sentence is repeated. As we have discussed in previous conversations, these words may portray some sort of danger that the protagonist Sham must face at some point in the book. However, why do you think that the author chose to repeat this sentence specifically at this point of the book?

I believe that the author repeated this sentence in this certain stage in the book because the character Sham is currently faced with confusion, conflict, and wonder. He was previously given the decision to either go with Caldero and Caldera or stay with the people from the mole train. He decides to choose the latter and wonders why he has reached that kind of decision. His regret and eager-for-adventure personality may lead him to follow Caldero and Caldera, which may also lead him to the path that can cause him to become the bloodied boy that the prologue and chapter 4, states. However, we must remember that although its very likely that the bloodied boy is Sham its also important to remember that there is a possibility that the boy can be a different character (as Tabeer has mentioned in a previous post). the boy can also be Dero (Caldero) or maybe even the mysterious pirate friend that Sham had met a few chapter earlier.

Overall, the line "this Is the story of a blood stained boy" signals a great turn in the story. Some sort of disaster is bound to take place, but the problem is that we don’t know what. its quite interesting since the perspectives of the characters suddenly changed from Sham to the Sharoaks. I wonder why this is the case.

What do you think that the bloodied boy symbolizes in the text? it clearly has some sort of hidden meaning.


message 13: by Tabeer (new) - added it

Tabeer Sajjad | 9 comments I think that the bloodstained boy is possibly symbolizing Caldero. In the book, the Shroake siblings are said to be tracing their "creative routes through the railsea towards its most arcane & neglected places, following their families secret route, looking for whatever it was their mother & father had found." Perhaps it's this journey that causes Caldero to take the role of the bloodstained boy and become hurt and by finding the truth he realizes how stained his path was. Although Caldero may still not be the bloodstained boy. Currently in the book Sham had been taken by Robalson hi pirate friend who he seems to put a decent amount of trust in as shown by how he told him about how he was going to see some people and continues to go describe how he wished to follow them, at this point making it clear about how he is stuck in the middle. While he seems to trust the pirate to some extent the pirate had told him "'you remember when you asked me what my train was? Asked me what I did?...I wasn't lying. I am a pirate.'" Evidently while Sham told the pirate a great deal about himself he never really knew who he was speaking to which ended up leaving him in the weak spot he found himself to be in. This also may possibly lead him to become the bloodstained boy because of his own internal dilemmas.

Moving onto chapter 42 where the bloodstained boy is again mentioned, it also says, "that is to say, follow other rails, see through other eyes." This line may be directed towards Sham who does not know which to follow, his heart or his head, or in other words, his inner desire to salvage or how he is a part of the mole train and possibly believes that he has already chosen and now has to be stuck with his choice even if he may regret it. This line may be saying how Sham should step out of the shell he created for himself and follow the siblings who are the "other rails" and is telling him to see through the Shroakes eyes. Furthermore, after chapter 42 which was followed by the Shroakes perspective, it says how "with a distant affection Caldera regretted that Sham had not come." By mentioning how Caldera had said this with a distant affection it may be because she understands the position Sham was left in and may have been in the same position before and recalled this. In the end, what I'm curious about it to know what the importance of the line read on page 217, where it says "we do not dream the rails" signifies, perhaps it goes back to the debate on who made the rails or it may be about how the rails are the reality they live in and they cannot escape the railsea.


message 14: by Nazifa (new)

Nazifa | 10 comments After reading the book "Railsea" today, it can be noticed that the Protagonist Sham is finally starting to change. Instead of working on the mole train- a job that Sham hates- Sham has finally decided to work his dream job, which is to be a salvor. In the text it was stated that "I am sorry to not be there but I cannot do this job any more I have a new crew they are salvors with T sirocco. They will teach me to be a salvor I was never a person who wanted to be a mole hunter nor a doctor so I will go with them…I am sorry for this but I have always wanted to be someone who finds salvage & this is my chance gook luck & thank you. Yr obedient serpent Sham ap Soorap." I am glad that Sham is following his dream but there is something about the letter that I find weird. Sham isn't the type of person to suddenly leave his crew and only leave a note behind. He is the type of person to tell someone where he is going because he does not want to worry his family and friends. And to suddenly replace his crew with another one? Why would Sham do that? He is loyal to his crew members and wouldn’t replace them with a 'new crew.' Sure, he may leave for a while, however replace? Never. He even stated in his letter that he was obedient and a servant. If sham was obedient then why would he suddenly be running off? Why would he suddenly be replacing his entire crew if he thought of himself as the crew's servant.

I feel that Shams personality has taken a drastic change after reading his letter. To suddenly go from quiet and obedient to a runaway and no longer loyal is too big of a change. I believe that Sham might actually be in trouble and that someone else wrote Shams letter so that the mole train crew will not chase after him. This would make since because a few chapters ago, remember how it was stated that Sham got kidnapped by a group? I don’t recall him escaping and the author hasn’t put the past chapters in Sham's perspective. Instead, they were found in Caldero, and Caldera's perspective and the Captain of the mole train's perspective.

What do you believe happened to Sham? did he really choose to follow his dream or did he get kidnapped?

Another thing that I want to talk about is the wreckers. Since the beginning of the book, we were introduced to several different kinds of jobs; molers, salvors, pirates and many more. However, why did the author choose to talk about the Wreckers now? It was stated In the text that " The crews who had built that false light would be waiting, to do what was necessary to travelers. To scavenge the scrap their intervention left behind. the cruelest kind of salvage. Train ghouls, derailers & thieves. wreakers." I believe that the authors use of showing Sham's letter in one chapter and immediately introducing the wreckers in the next may be connected. Perhaps sham was taken by/ joined the Wreckers? This may not seem likely but it can be possible.


message 15: by Geli (new)

Geli | 5 comments I think more problems will arise as the story progress from this point because all the new character/jobs introduced like pirates and wrecker, they both are kind of like illegal and usually in books when criminals or bad people are getting involved it lead to series of problem. So the author introducing these jobs late in the story is a hint that something is about to happen like a climax point of the stories. I noticed that in the text after a point it stops giving sham's perspective or what is happening to him and instead go onto to what is happening to the crew in Medes and the twins. So I definitely agree with Nazifa that something is wrong with that letter. Also I noticed that in the stories that the problem sham faces in the begging of the book to this point are small and seems insignificant but I feel like it could be leading into the main problem.


message 16: by Tabeer (new) - added it

Tabeer Sajjad | 9 comments Regarding the letter that Sham had apparently sent, I also agree with Nazifa that the letter is not really what is seems to be and is probably not by Sham himself. Going back to the chapter where Sham had been kidnapped, he was still at the moment not so sure of himself. It states "...I wanted to go with her. But I bottled it & I don't even know why! I think I did want to go. But I can't have done, can I?'" Sham bottled up his feeling when there was an opportunity to go with the Shroakes, not going despite the fact that he truly wished to be a part of their journey. That just makes me wonder what exactly stopped him, which may possibly be the Medes, his train. He may feel like he has a sense of duty there even if his own preferences may differ from what he is doing. Maybe the fact that he bottled up his feelings is why he was still on the Medes, but he has probably kept his feeling bottled up for a while to begin to ramble to someone he does not truly know about on a personal level, Robalson, who must have seen the evident vulnerable state Sham was in in the pub because of his attitude and how he repeatedly said "'I'm stupid & useless'", showing how let down he was because of his choice. This vulnerable state Sham was in left him wide open to be taken advantage of to the point where "Sham discovered that he wasn't really surprised to hear.." Daybe shriek, probably because he knew that he was vulnerable and the situation could turn bad but he still went because, in his head, there may not have been any other place for him to go to.

Another thing that was interesting to see in the story was the Medes crew's reaction to Shams leave. They seemed to have to take it and accept it. Even though they all know that "'...Sham ap Soorap brought the grog when he had to...'", Sham had been obedient and listened to what he was told to do and this just further shows how he isn't someone to go gainst what he has done and know for a long time. Even when talking to Caldera about the origin of the rails and listening to her reasoning he was reluctant to throw away what he has been told for years and believe in Caldera's words which made more sense. Another thing this makes me wonder if Sham actually had someone to talk to on the Medes because he went to the pub and almost comfortably spoke his worries to Robalson a stranger in a sense to him. Maybe he was more comfortable talking to a stranger because he wouldn't feel judged about his thoughts. Maybe that's why he never spoke to the doctor, the person who Sham was the assistant of because he said himself under the doctor whereas he saw himself at an equal eye level with Robalson, and maybe Sham sees himself as unworthy to the Medes cause. But still, it is slightly concerning how the crew went along with the fact that Sham had gone out to salvage even when they all seemed to know how he isn't the type of person to have the courage to, Fremlo saying how he "'didn't know he had it in him...'" and "'never thought he'd have the oomph to go be a salvor, no matter how mooningly he stared at them.'"


message 17: by Nazifa (new)

Nazifa | 10 comments While reading more of the book Railsea today and yesterday, I learned that my prediction on Sham being kidnapped was in fact true. It was discovered that Sham got kidnapped by Pirates and was wanted by them because he contained a valuable amount of information on the Sharoaks and where they were heading. It was stated in the text that "what we want, said a new voice, Sham ap Soorap, is information…Tell me where the Sharoaks are going." I wonder why so many people are after the Sharoaks. Throughout the entire book there were countless situations where the Sharoaks were stalked, watched and Sham was bribed as well as kidnapped just for information on them. Why are the Sharoaks so special? why are they wanted? Due to the Sharoaks mysterious background and Sham meeting with them for a brief amount of time, his life is in an extraordinary amount of danger. Robalson, who was a pirate and seemed to be pretty friendly when he was introduced in the book turned out to be someone ruthless and dangerous. He follows the orders of captain Elfrish, who is a very dangerous person himself because he does not feel pity and can instantly kill someone without any kind of remorse evident on his face. According to the text, it was stated that " You'd like not to be cut open and dangled over the side of this turn and dragged along with your legs on the ground spilling blood everything under the flat earth can smell." I honestly believe that the Captain wouldn’t do such things because Sham is a vital part of his plan to discover where the Sharoaks are heading. After all, Sham is the only person who knows the locations that caldera and Dero plan to visit. If he gets killed then the captains plan will be destroyed.

Going back to Robalson, I find him to be a very confusing person. One moment he looks as if he's Sham's enemy while the other moment he looks like someone that Sham could trust. I don’t understand, is Robalson a friend or a foe? It was stated in the text that "Yeah, Robalson would say, as if agreeing with whatever terror Elfrish had instilled. He'd twist his face into a sneer, undetermined only somewhat by his visible discomfort at Sham's fear." Contradicting this statement, the text also stated that "To his shock, the pirate boy was staring at the bat in the air, He knew it! He'd seen it! but Robalson looked at him and said nothing.. no harm in having a friendly face around…What? thought Sham. You want to be friends?" Robeson's personality is very confusing and his motive is hard to figure out. I feel that Robalson doesn’t agree with the things that his captain is sayings and is forcing himself to agree to show that he is on their side but this is just a theory. Robalson may really be on his crews side because when attacked he stated that "we lost a few members of our own," and sounded like he thinks of his crew as family. However, if this really was the case then Robalson would have told his captain that Shams Bat was flying near them. He had clearly seen it but chose to be quiet about it. Does this imply that he is on Sham's side? I'm still really confused on what to think about Robalson. To me, he is like a mirror. One side of him is evil while the other side of him is good.

If you were in Sham's place, what would you do? Would you help the captain of the pirates by telling him the way to go to the Sharoaks or would you be stubborn and refuse to tell him anything? I feel that at some point, if sham does not receive help from someone, he will be killed by the pirates. After all, once the pirates complete their mission, they will not be needing Sham anymore.


message 18: by Tabeer (new) - added it

Tabeer Sajjad | 9 comments Now at the point of the story we are currently at, the Shroakes play a crucial role to its path because they are a part of something bigger, an idea and perhaps a new way of life that is yet to be discovered by them, this most likely being their fate, to continue where their parents left off. Sham just had to tie himself into the path they were destined to travel by not leaving the wreckage when the obvious to an onlooker would be to get out. His choice to say and pick up the memory chip led him to the point where he finds himself to be now, as a prisoner who from his kidnappers is being told that "'what we want' said a new voice 'Sham ap Soorap', is information'" which was what he found on the memory chip that he had the choice not to pick up be he had done so anyway. On the Tarralesh, which is the name of the pirate's ship, Sham"...wanted more than anything to say, 'Yes I do', Sham, after he had stalled as long as he dared, had to whisper,'No I don't.'" Now knowing how he was completely vulnerable because his crew did not know where he was and his true intentions in addition to how "...those secrets, those desires, the sense of adventure, the pining after the vividly dressed salvors, that he harbored, that he had confessed to Robalson..." had been used against him and anything he says can be held against him, Sham who is now exposed and in fear, in order to remain alive he realises that he can't help but say the truth because there was no one there to cover up his lies.

In contrast to Nazifa who sees Robalson as someone who is a ruthless and dangerous person who may also act good, I think that Robalson is just acting based on orders and not his own preference because he is in fear, similar to Sham. When the captain "...stared at him with eyes that no longer looked mild. That looked like poison & ice. Behind his captain, Robalson looked uncomfortable." Maybe Robalson has also been in the same position Sham is in right now, being underneath his captains gaze and intimidated, pierced by the captain gaze and forced to oblige. I am curious to know, how did Robalson end up on the Tarralesh? Maybe this story will reveal some similarity he has to Sham and it may explain why he "...eagerly winked. "No harm in having a friendly face around", he whispered & gave Sham an uneasy smile." Maybe Robalson also wished to be able to see a friendly face around and pitied Sham in a way and wished to be able to offer as much support as he is able to without being "pierced" by his captain who remains to loom as a shadow over him, watching his every step. On the other side of the story where the Medes is, something that Captain Nalphi had gone over in her head was interesting which was the question, "what happens when the evasive concepts you hunt get found?" It seemed to have a direct correlation to Sham and his journey because of how he hunted to the bridge which led him to Manhiki and even after finding it he continued to search for answers leading him to the Shroaks and inevitable trouble, but when he was kidnapped, the drawings he drew were found and he was exposed in his tracks. In the end, Sham was "one bloodstained, a poor tryer at medicine, an aspirer to salvage hunting..." But, how was he once bloodstained and why? Will he become the bloodstained boy one again?

Regarding being in Sham's place, choosing what you would do depends on what you want the outcome to be. If you wish to live, tell the truth to the captain and end up killing the Shroakes. Meanwhile, if you believed in the Shroakes cause and the success of their journey, lie or remain silent and end up killing yourself for a reason you never really knew about, which in a way was exactly what got Sham kidnapped, being vulnerable and telling everything about yourself to a person you never really knew, but in this situation, would it be worth it? Would it change anything if you had told the truth and not lied?


message 19: by Geli (new)

Geli | 5 comments Recently in the book, there have been lots Action packed events occurring. First sham gets kidnapped and captain Naphi or something is getting close to completing her philosophy and capturing her personal enemy "mocker jack" the moldy warps using the tracker. And if that is not enough to the shroaks were on a life or death situation with the runaway train and giant owl. And that is not all, there was a bloody battle between the pirate and some other group and both wanted sham because he is the only one that has information on the shroaks location and where they are going. But between the heated battle between two group over who keeps sham , he managed to get away. I was kind of right in my last post when I said that something climatic was about to happen. Until like sham and the Medes crew arrived in manihiki, the story was like a mystery and you couldn't predict what was going to happen and where particularly the story is leading to. But now at least we know or can atleast see how it could go about. For example. We know that at the middle of all the chaos is sham and the twin. And I think I might know what is about to happen next. We know that sham survived and he know the shroaks are in danger so he would probably want to find them and warn them. We are not sure if the captain of the pirate and the navy or something like that are going after sham. So it is like a race who catches who, will sham find them first and warn them or will another party catch sham to get information. Either way the next chapter is going to be exciting and I would like know I I was right. In addition I mentioned captains of the battle between pirate and navy because I am not sure but I think the text doesn't specifically says they are dead so they might return. Who knows?


message 20: by Nazifa (new)

Nazifa | 10 comments While reading more of the book “Railsea” yesterday, the continuous mention of angels really caught my attention. This is primarily because the Angels that were described in the book are not what we image. We imagine angels as a beautiful human with wings on their back and a halo. We imagine them to be kind, loving and believe them to be helping humans. The Angels portrayed in Railsea seem to be a sharp contrast and the complete opposite. The Angels in the book don't seem to be a creature, but rather, a machine. It was stated in the text that “such a bass grinding. Such whining of metal… A hill shook… From under the ground, a train of spiked & spiny metal… It spat steam, dribbled fire. Grey smoke rose from a dorsal ridge of chimneys… It stripped by segment into the light… The angel pressed down hard and made its appalling noise.” Furthermore, the text also stated that “the angel fired all of its weapons.” The Angel described in the text definitely does not seem human but the author uses personification to give it human like features. Although the Angel is a machine, the features that the author gives it makes it come alive and makes it seem that it has a mind of its own. The Angel does not seem to represent light as it would in most cases but instead, seems to represent darkness and fear. After all, the people on the mole train, such as sham and the shaoaks are completely terrified with the Angel hot on their trail. Instead of respecting the Angel and expecting it to protect them from harm, the Angel is the one trying to do the harm, which is very ironic.

In addition to Angels not being what they are supposed to be, the place known as heaven also seems to be the opposite of what we expect. The Angels are found in heaven- that's pretty obvious and makes sense- but heaven is a place where caldera and Dero’s parents wanted to desperately avoid, which implies that it's very dangerous. There are also a lot of wreckage found on heaven- including some of the navy, which was a very powerful group of people. For them to be destroyed implies that heaven is definitely not a peaceful place. I find the author's use of making everything a mirror image- including the concept of good and bad- to be very interesting. If ‘good’ is actually ‘bad’, then would that make ‘bad’ actually be ‘good?’ If Angels are creatures of destruction and heaven is a place of fear, then would that make hell be a place of paradise and Devils be creatures that help people? Another question that arises when thinking about Angels is who created them? Angels are not living creatures and are machines. All machines are created by someone. So who created the Angels? And what was their purpose? They obviously wanted trespasses to be kept out of the so called place ‘heaven’ but for what purpose? What lays within heaven? Why does it need to be kept hidden? And why are so many people- pirates, the navy, the Sharoaks- after it?


message 21: by Tabeer (last edited Mar 19, 2017 03:25PM) (new) - added it

Tabeer Sajjad | 9 comments From what we are now reading in the book "Railsea" a major obstacle seems to be Heaven. In the book, it's almost as if Heaven is a dream everyone wishes to accomplish or in the context of the book, find and overcome but it seems almost as if its not completely attainable objective, and those who are going after what they cell Heaven must undergo numerous hardships and struggles and the journey is one where only the strongest will survive. As stated in the text, when facing an encounter with Heaven someone said, "they're insane. They're firing on Heaven." Is it insane because it's unwise of a decision and pointless and will only end in the shooters demise? Maybe because Heaven is a greater power, attacking it isn't a wise decision because of how it is seen as undefeatable. Also. the line "an angel. Like no thing they have ever seen. Everyone made a noise of terror" shows how the character were able to identify how the opposition was an angel, but how? Isn't it that the character have never come this far and are just now encountering Heaven and its subjugates? Or are the angels the ones on top of the hierarchy in Heaven, following with what Nazifa proposed of everything being the "opposite" and in what is Heaven, is there a God or is that just an idea proposed by peoples wishful stories? "Even the atheist's on the Medes whispered prayers", further shows how what they call angels aren't at all a mystical being but a frightening one because of how much fear they instilled into the characters.

Furthermore, regarding philosophies, in a sense, Heaven and the end of the railsea could be called the Shroakes philosophy because of how they had pursued the end of the Railsea. Until the end, of their lives Caldera and Dero's parents had been pursuing the end of the railsea but in the end, they had died doing so, the remains of their train becoming salvage alongside the memory chip they had so desperately put efforts to hide. Though why? What had they found out that they didn't wish for anyone else to figure out? In the end the question that everything leads up to is, what is in Heaven? Hope? Despair? A little bit of both? Possibly, but one thing in the book that is slightly concerning is the Captain of the Medes and her philosophy. In the initial stage of the book, her philosophy was only briefly mentioned, just grazing over the fact that it does exist and is a driving force for her, her arm being a great reason. Then once her prosthetic arm turns out to be fake, there just being machinery built upon her real arm, it's like her will to search for Mocker Jack becomes stronger to the point where "she smiled" and said that "'Mocker Jack is my philosophy & I am its.'" and saying the name she had given the mole "dreamily." Without a doubt, the captain obsession is only growing and is at the point where her desire to find Mocker Jack becomes dangerous, to the point where she is putting her down crew in danger by making the mole follow the Medes at great speeds and maybe this time, she'll loose her arm to the mole for real.


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