The Last Days of New Paris (China Miéville)

The Last Days of New Paris is a novella by China Miéville.
Finished on: 29.9.2019

Plot:
1950 in Paris. The resistance against the Nazis is on-going, as neither the Nazis nor the Parisians can really leave the city as Paris is home to the manifs, manifestations of surrealist art that roam the streets. Thibaut would like to get out, though, and so he joins forces with Sam, an American photographer who hopes to capture the city with its manifs. But Sam is in a precarious position, too.

The Last Days of New Paris is yet another, completely different thing. I’m in awe of what Miéville always comes up with and how his books barely resemble each other. In any case, it’s an engaging novella that doubles as a love-letter to surrealism.

The book cover showing a sepia shot of Paris with the Eiffel tower in the background, its bottom covered in fog.
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This Census-Taker (China Miéville)

This Census-Taker is a novella by China Miéville.
Finished on: 11.6.2018

Plot:
A man writes about his life from prison. As a boy he lived with his parents – his mother a trader, his father selling magical keys. But then his mother killed his father. Or actually, his father killed his mother. The boy is convinced of it, but nobody finds any evidence of it. Then the Cenus-Taker shows up to talk with his father.

This Census-Taker takes a three-book idea and stuffs it into a novella, which is at times frustrating because I just wanted to know more, but mostly it’s just brilliant.

Book cover of This Census-Taker showing a mountain with thick fog in black and white.
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Iron Council (China Miéville)

Iron Council is the third novel in the Bas-Lag series by China Miéville.
Finished on: 4.6.2017
[Here are my reviews of the other books.]

Plot:
Cutter knows he has to find the Iron Council, the perpetually moving train full of rebels and dissenters who fled New Crobuzon. Among those rebels is Judah, who Cutter used to be very close to. And now Cutter has gained knowledge that the New Crobuzon militia is ready to strike against the Iron Council. Meanwhile in New Crobuzon itself, things are brewing, too, and Ori knows he wants to have a part in it, a hopefully very active part.

As usual with Miéville, Iron Council takes work to read and it takes a little time to get into this. But it’s worth it to stick with it, as Miéville gives us not only a wonderfully intricate world and complex characters, but also an awesome political slant.

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The Scar (China Miéville)

The Scar is the second novel in the Bas-Lag series by China Miéville. [Here’s my review of the first book.]

Plot:
Bellis Coldwine has to leave New Crobuzon, and quickly, too. That’s how she ends up on a ship on its way to the furthest off colonies that New Crobuzon has. The ship carries a ragtag mix of people – from scientist Johannes Tearfly to remade prisoners like Tanner Sack and even picks up a mysterious passenger on the way – Silas Fennec who orders the ship to turn back. But before they get very far, all of them are captured by pirates and have to restart their lives on the floating pirate city Armada.

I just wanted to start this review with the words that I liked this book even more than I liked the first one. But I don’t know if that’s true. I certainly liked Bellis more than Isaac, though I did like Isaac too. But both are absolutely brilliant books in very different ways.

thescar

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Dial H Vol. 2: Exchange (China Miéville, Alberto Ponticelli, Dan Green)

Dial H Vol. 2: Exchange collects issues 7-15 of the DC 52 reboot of Dial H for Hero, plus the series’ epilogue (Justice League 23.3: Dial E). It was written by China Miéville and drawn by Alberto Ponticelli and Dan Green. [Here’s my review of the first Volume.]

Plot:
Nelson and Roxie are traveling around the world to try and figure out everything about the H-Dial they share and to maybe find a second one, so they don’t have to share anymore. As they are trying to uncover new things, they are hunted by Centipede, a Canadian spy who has his own powers and his own agenda.

It really is a pity that this series was cancelled already. It had so much promise. And I really enjoyed the second volume, despite a slightly bumpy second half.

DialH2

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Perdido Street Station (China Miéville)

Perdido Street Station is the first novel in the Bas-Lag series by China Miéville.

Plot:
Isaac is a scientist who doesn’t really conform to the scientific community, most of all because of his girlfriend Lin, who happens to be a khepri – an instect-woman. It’s a relationship that would be frowned upon if it were known. Lin is an artist and she’s approached for an unusual comission, while Isaac himself is also hired by Yagharek, a garuda – a bird-man. Yagharek’s wings were taken from him as a punishment and he hopes that Isaac can give him back his flight. But Isaac’s research takes him somewhere else entirely.

Perdido Street Station is a dense book, literally and figuratively. It took me way longer to read it than its length suggested, but I absolutely loved every page and minute of it. Great character, great plot and the usual beauty of Miéville’s prose.

perdidostreetstation

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Dial H Vol. 1: Into You (China Miéville, Mateus Santolouco)

Dial H Vol. 1: Into You collects the first six issues (plus issue 0) of the DC 52 reboot of Dial H for Hero. It was written by China Miéville and drawn by Mateus Santolouco.

Plot:
Nelson doesn’t have much of a life, a fact that his last remaining friend Darren tries to change. And Nelson’s life does change big time when he stumbles upon Darren getting beaten up. Nelson wants to call for help in a phone booth and dials 4376 – Hero. Out of the phone box comes not Nelson, but Boy Chimney. Nelson discovers that every time he uses the phone box, he becomes another superhero for a while. So he tries to protect Darren – but his beating was not random and things are a little more difficult.

I loved Dial H. It’s smart, it’s funny, but it’s also freaking dark and scary.  And the art is great.

DialH

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Railsea (China Miéville)

Railsea is the newest novel by China Miéville, based a little bit on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

Plot:
Sham recently started working on a moletrain, one of the many trains who drive through the endless railsea hunting moles. But his train, the Medes, is made special by the fact that his Captain, Captain Naphi has a philosophy: a giant yellow mole she lost a limb to and has been hunting ever since. But when Sham sees a few pictures he isn’t really supposed to see, his life gets entangled with the Shroake siblings Caldera and Dero and he is soon on a much bigger adventure than he ever thought he would be.

Railsea is an absolute joyride. Linguistically, it’s probably Miéville’s most idiosyncratic book, but it’s fast-paced, fun and bursting with ideas.

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Embassytown (China Miéville)

Embassytown is the newest novel by China Miéville.

Plot:
Avice lives in Embassytown on the planet Arieka, on the very outskirts of the known universe. The humans on Arieka live together with the original inhabitants, the Ariekei, in an uneasy combination of tolerance and ignorance, due to the fundamental differences in communication: the Ariekei can’t lie – but that’s just the smallest difference. The only humans actually able to communicate with them are specially trained ambassadors. Avice is anxious to leave Arieka, so when she get’s to become an immerser, she leaves never meaning to return. But for the sake of her husband, a linguist fascinated with the Ariekei, she does make it back and witnesses the arrival of a new ambassador – with unexpected consequences.

I completely adored Embassytown. There’s really not much more to say except gushing: the Ariekei are fascinating creatures – and utterly alien. The world-building is amazing, and as usual in Miéville’s books there is enough fodder for thought to last for quite a while.

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Kraken (China Miéville)

Kraken is the newest novel by China Miéville.

Plot:
Billy Harrow works in the Darwin Center. Among other things, he’s kinda responsible for a giant squid (in formaldehyde, of course) – which one day just vanishes from the museum. But that’s just the start of the weirdness in Billy’s life: he soon finds himself in the company of Dane, a believer of a squid cult Kraken Church, hunted by Goss and Subby – a more than macabre and scary duo in the employ of the Tattoo, the city’s mob boss – and desperately trying to avoid the end of the world that is connected to the vanished squid.

Kraken is a book that will sweep you off your feet and leave you completely breathless with its sheer inventiveness. Every time you think that you got the hang of everything, Miéville introduces a new idea, more or less mindblowing. It’s absolutely exhilarating.

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