China Mieville - The City and the City

Discussion in 'Fantasy / Horror' started by StorAll, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. StorAll

    StorAll New Member

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    I really, really enjoyed The Scar and Perdido Street Station, but am having serious difficulty with this book. I got to part 2, and finally just put the book down because I felt that nothing was happening. I want to finish this book since I enjoyed the other two so much, it's a signed copy and it would be a shame not to finish, and I can't remember the last time I didn't finish a book from not liking it. Can anyone who has read the book tell me if it gets any better?
     
  2. tragic

    tragic sultan of smug

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    I think the tension builds nicely as the thing heats up, and there are a couple of pretty tense set pieces to go for you. That said, it isn't other than it is - a brutally pared-down conspiracy thriller with uncanny touches - and if your problem is the style (very different to the Bas Lag novels) then you may not change your mind for reading the rest of it. But do, because it's an excellent book.
     
  3. Randy M.

    Randy M. Registered User

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    I haven't read any Mieville prior to this one, but I agree with Tragic about The City and the City. It has the tone of conspiracy thrillers/police procedurals and uses those forms to ground the novel. I thought the second half dealt well with what was established in the first half.

    Randy M.
     
  4. NYCfan

    NYCfan Registered User

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    I absolutely loved this book, but yes, it is very different from the Bas Lag novels (which I felt went downhill, with Mieville's politics getting in the way of writing a good story). It is SF through the twin prism of a police procedural and mainstream fiction style fantasy. The world he creates is fascinating and, given the crazy premise, perfectly done both in itself and in how it shapes the characters' actions. But again, if you're looking for a New Weird Corbuzon style tale, this isn't it.
     
  5. Fruitonica

    Fruitonica Registered User

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    I really enjoyed it, the pulypy-noirish touches Mieville really excelled at. I actually felt like the ending was squandered, I was really excited by the building up of Orciny and then I felt like the twists kind of lowered the stakes.
     
  6. owlcroft

    owlcroft Webmaster, Great SF&F

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    Second the motion.

    I wasn't going to say anything, lest I put someone off reading this, a book that does indeed deserve reading. But I concur that the ending didn't seem quite to deliver as much as the preceding portions had suggested. The feeling was sort of like that one gets coming down a staircase in pitch dark and hitting the floor while still expecting another step.
     
  7. nquixote

    nquixote trolling > dissertation

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    I have never encountered a nation of people - even Japan, where I used to live - that is as obsessed with their capital city as the Brits are with London.
     
  8. Werthead

    Werthead Registered User

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    Very few other nations have a capital as old, as important and as storied as London though. Certainly not Tokyo, which is only (arguably) about 400 years old.

    I would say that the Italians are fairly obssessed with Rome though. The French have a love-hate relationship with Paris. There are vast numbers of American books and movies written about New York (not the capital now, but it was briefly at one point).

    Not sure what this has got to do with the thread though. Beszel-Ul Qoma isn't like London at all, which I think was a deliberate choice of Mieville's after New Crobuzon and UnLondon.
     
  9. nquixote

    nquixote trolling > dissertation

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    Interesting. All of the British history I've read is Scottish history (I'm an incorrigible Caledonophile), in which London seems like a distant place. I should read more English history.

    But aren't cities like Venice and Milan also extremely important?

    True, but I'd say that interest has waned over the years, as the importance of LA, SF, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston has grown. And we were never as densely urbanized as most European countries.

    Oh...true.
     
  10. Werthead

    Werthead Registered User

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    I should say so. London is a pretty important and old city which has had a major impact on world history (as the capital of the British Empire and one of the most important imperial Roman cities long before that), if not quite as old as the likes of Rome/Jerusalem/Damascus etc.

    Yes, but they are both younger than Rome (though not much in Milan's case). The situation is also complicated because Italy was formed out of a union of formerly independent city-states and Venice and Milan are also identified as having their own identities as well as being Italian, whilst Rome is identified more as the core of the Italian identity (probably a highly arguable point to non-Romans though).
     
  11. Stephen Palmer

    Stephen Palmer Author of novels

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    The book gets better and better... you have to "get" the cold-war atmosphere for it to really work. Mieville is brilliant.
     
  12. SCLazarus

    SCLazarus Registered User

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    The City & the City

    I'm sure there must be another discussion about China MiƩville's The City & The City somewhere here, but as I couldn't find it I'm going to start my own.

    Anyways, I just finished The City & The City and really enjoyed it. I loved the refreshingly unique premise that it introduces and how believable it all comes across though I thought the writing was somewhat disappointing. The dialogue was not very good and many of the sentences were overly complicated, requiring me to reread some of them several times to understand what they were saying. Did anyone else feel this way?

    [ADMIN EDIT: Post moved to where it should be and merged with the thread about The City and the City. Hobbit]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 7, 2010
  13. Corporal Blues

    Corporal Blues I like to rock the party

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    I finished reading this the other day. I think it is a well written book, great prose, great characters, great plotting, and the relationship of the two cities was very thought provoking...All that being said, I still prefer Mieville's earlier stuff.

    The concept that the two cities share physical space, but not social or legal space was a hard concept to grasp because it is a multi-faceted concept. At times the terms of the distinction between the two cities appeared to be physical; the two cities certainly have their own identities, and characteristics. However, at other times it came across as a psychological distinction: inhabitants of one city "unseeing" things taking place in the opposing city to maintain distinctions... Then there are "crosshatched" sections of the cities where a location appears to be in both cities at the same time. Then it get further complicated and surreal as the Mieville begins to explore Breach.

    By then end I'm not totally sure what to make of everything, but I love that Mieville leaves it up to the reader to draw their own conclusions.

    Pretty solid book
     
  14. Shayna

    Shayna Greyscale

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    I can say that i enjoyed the book, but I truly disliked the use of"the city within the city" used soooo much in the book! I mean sometimes i felt like I was lost trying to find out as to where i was in the city! Was I in the city...out the city...within the city??? I mean on a couple of pages, it had to have been said at least 10 times...repetitively!! The story was great and i really love China mieville, but this was the first time i had been frustrated reading a book!
     
  15. Gilgamesh

    Gilgamesh http://is.gd/4flJX

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    I really liked the book and I loved the unique setting. It's a great book in my opinion. But I can see how some aspects can be annoying to some people.
     
  16. Stephen Palmer

    Stephen Palmer Author of novels

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    You wait 'til you try Kraken :rolleyes:
     
  17. Westsiyeed

    Westsiyeed The Fifth Dominion

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    I thought The City and the City was an excellent read. Such a different writing style than previous favourites such as Perdidio Street Station and The Scar, but isn't variety the spice of life? I think Mieville did a fantastic job of making it seem real that two cities could exist in the same physical space.

    Just finished Kraken and......I just don't know. I found some parts a little hard going, but that said, I finished it fairly quickly and think back about the story often. A lot of things going on at once (not necessarily a bad thing), and maybe it needed more about Goss and Subby! I think it needs a second read.
     
  18. Stephen Palmer

    Stephen Palmer Author of novels

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    By half way through those two were really beginning to annoy me... :rolleyes:
     
  19. Eventine

    Eventine Uh, Staff Member

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    I thought they were the least imaginative part of the story. We've seen the two henchmen done sooooo many times before that I didn't really feel they were at all interesting.
    Maybe it's time for a Kraken thread.
     
  20. rune

    rune Registered User

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    I had the same problem. I just couldnt get into this story at all. I have enjoyed his other books, and yes I know that they arent what you would call easy reads. But this one seemed so different to anything else. Not a fantasy/horror/sci-fi story at all.