Profile: Weird Fantasy
After Action Report:
There is point during the creative process when too many ideas can be as bad as too few. I’m personally a very poor judge of where that limit is, but The Waking Engine is firmly on the wrong side of it. Some of the book’s core concepts are interesting and fresh, but they are buried under layers of borrowed imagery, and symbolism stolen from across the width and breadth of fantasy and science fiction. The only thing I took away was a deeper appreciation for the authors who make genre mashups look easy.
The Waking Engine is the story of Cooper, a young man who is flung across a multiverse and wakes up in home of true death, the City Unspoken. Like a twisted version of Hindu reincarnation, people who die in this setting wake up moments later as themselves on a different world. Eventually, this process leads everyone to the City, where their weary souls might finally find eternal rest. Only, no one’s dying. The City Unspoken is failing and Cooper may have to be the one to put everything right again.
Profile: Young Adult, Fantasy, Weird Fantasy
After Action Report:
‘China Miéville’ and ‘children’s book’ are not, at first glance, two things that would appear to mesh. Miéville, who I have described in previous reviews as being macabre, dense and sometimes overwhelmingly complicated (in an enjoyable way), is hardly the first person I’d pick to write a book for older kids and young adults. Nevertheless, Un Lun Dun is a triumphant piece of fiction. It taps into the fundamental truths of adventure stories, uses them where appropriate and turns them on their head when necessary. Miéville’s singular ability to deconstruct genre and trope help create an earnest adventure for those of us who were never singled out for greatness.
Un Lun Dun follows two London girls, Zanna and Deeba who stumble onto a pathway into UnLondon, an abcity behind and beyond London proper. Suddenly dropped into a world of magic, animate garbage, carnivorous giraffes and a never ending parade of strange sights, the girls are desperate to find their way back home. But Zanna is the subject of an ancient prophesy. Called ‘The Shwazzy,’ she is destined to save UnLondon from the malicious cloud of toxins known as the Smog.
Profile: Speculative Fiction, Weird Fantasy, Politics, Bas-Lag
Summary: From the hardcover edition, “It is a time of wars and revolutions, conflict and intrigue. New Crobuzon is being ripped apart from without and within. War with the shadowy city-state of Tesh and rioting on the streets at home are pushing the teeming city to the brink. A mysterious masked figure spurs strange rebellion, while treachery and violence incubate in unexpected places.
In desperation, a small group of renegades escapes from the city and crosses strange and alien continents in the search for a lost hope.
In the blood and violence of New Crobuzon’s most dangerous hour, there are whispers. It is the time of the Iron Council. . . .”
Profile: Speculative Fiction, Weird Fantasy, Pirate Adventure, Bas-Lag
Summary: From the Back Cover, “Aboard a vast seafaring vessel, a band of prisoners and slaves, their bodies remade into grotesque biological oddities, is being transported to a fledgling colony of New Crobuzon. They are joined by a handful of travelers, each with a reason for fleeing the city. When the ship is besieged by pirates on the Swollen Ocean, the senior officers are executed. The surviving passengers are brought to Armada, a city constructed from the hulls of stolen ships – a floating, landless mass whose bizarre leaders harbor a sinister agenda.” Read the rest of this entry
Profile: Speculative Fiction, Weird Fantasy, Psychological Horror, Bas-Lag
Summary: From the Back Cover, “Beneath the towering bleached ribs of a dead, ancient beast lies the city of New Crobuzon, where the unsavory deal is stranger to no one – not even to Isaac, a gifted and eccentric scientist who has spent a lifetime quietly carrying out his unique research. But when a half-bird, half-human creature known as a Garuda comes to him from afar, Isaac is faced with challenges the has never before encountered. Though the Garuda’s request is scientifically daunting, Isaac is sparked by his own curiosity and an uncanny reverence for this curious stranger. Soon an eerie metamorphosis will occur that will permeate every fiber of New Crobuzon – and not even the Ambassador of Hell will challenge the malignant terror it evokes.” Read the rest of this entry