Thursday, 27 November 2008

Blurb for 'The City and the City' by China Miéville

Taken from the Sub Press website:

In such novels as King Rat, Perdido Street Station, and Iron Council, China Mieville established himself as one of the most original writers currently working in any genre. In his latest, The City & the City, Mieville has outdone himself, giving us a multi-layered urban fantasy of extraordinary complexity and depth.

The story begins when Tyador Borlu, senior detective in the Extreme Crime Squad of the city of Beszel, is called to the scene of a particularly vicious homicide. When the victim turns out to be a young female student with dubious political connections and a controversial history, the investigation spills over into the neighboring city of Ul Qoma. Once there, Borlu enters a labyrinth of violence and corruption that will alter the course of his career.

The City & the City is a brilliantly conceived, masterfully executed novel whose intricate plot encompasses myth and legend, political and cultural divisions, corporate greed, and the arcane forces that move behind the scenes of a beautifully realized urban landscape. Effortlessly blurring the boundaries between mystery, fantasy, and mainstream fiction, it is the most impressive, fully developed work to date by a writer of vast ambition and seemingly limitless gifts. has a different blurb:

When the body of a murdered woman is found in the extraordinary, decaying city of Bes el, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks like a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he probes, the evidence begins to point to conspiracies far stranger, and more deadly, than anything he could have imagined. Soon his work puts him and those he cares for in danger. Borlu must travel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own, across a border like no other. With shades of Kafka and Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler and 1984 , "The City & The City" is a murder mystery taken to dazzling metaphysical and artistic heights.

Sounds very promising indeed. No artwork as of yet, but a release date of 15 May 2009 is in place.


Mark Newton said...

Can't. Wait. He's probably the only writer that transforms me into a slobbering fanboy.

Amazon being shite at blurbs might be one explanation for the differences, unless it's a slip of postmodernism.

James said...

Nah, it's just Amazon being shite at blurbs. ;)

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately it looks like Mieville may be doing A Bit Of An M John Harrison - creeping away from the brilliant secondary-world Fantasy that made his name toward something that might garner a little more praise from the literary establishment... It'd be a shame if New Crobuzon went the same way as Viriconium, reduced to a sad little literary device not even taken seriously anymore by the guy that came up with it.

I know, it's not even out yet. You know I'm going to get this and read it as soon as is humanly possible - Mieville's my favourite writer - but any disappointment here is a mark of just how much I want another Bas Lag novel. Please don't make us wait another three or four years China!

jon said...

"The night air was as hot and thick as an exhaled breath." Yes! More than just mere fragments of Viriconium Lost how so many of us reader/fans would love to see M. John revisit that fantastical alternate London for we are all still young journeymen, and thus the same with Miéville: please, more of Bas-Lag, New Crobuzon! What I would also love to see is a collection of short-stories set in a combination of Viriconium/New Crobuzon ("New Californium?") by some of today's best Weird Fiction authors, such as Jonathan Lethem, Jeff VandarMeer, Jeffrey Thomas, Jeffrey Ford, Jay Lake (hmm, that's a lot of J's & a few Jeff's, heh!), as well as some bizarre twisted turns tempted in by the likes of Joe R. Lansdale, etc... and, of course, at least one original from each M. John & China. However, Harrison has returned to SciFi which is actually where he began w/ The Committed Men; returned w/ Light & the deserved A C Clarke Awarded Nova Swing lending to the possibility that the Climber may indeed revisit places like the Blue Metal Discovery & Bistro Californium...? As w/ China, he is just beginning. Anything this great author produces (aside from the political works which are just too much for my brain, personally) I'll read, as I did Un Lun Dun all the while wishing it was less of a Young Adult's book, but I loved Curdle... hey! He even did the scribblings! The guy's a genius, what can we say? Amongst many of his other talents we somehow know of... all-n-all what I am getting at, in the short-straw of it, is that we may get the Fish back in Marillion as much as we love "H"! Or, rather, the revisit of China to the weird world that invented the Brain Map & The Weaver. LOOK THERE FLIES TIGHT OTHER WORLDS SIGHTED SIGHTLESS OF SIGHT IN THREADS TO PAINT SPLENDOUR SENSES SEE AND SENSES SEND TO SCRAPE TO SCAPE... DOWN WIND THE RAVEN JACK HALF DESCENDS. ASCENDS. OVER COBBLESTONES WET AND DANK WITH PRAYER. CHIMNEYS SWEPT. THE CITY KIND OF MIRROR FOUR THAN FIVE MORE -sure, right, you know. "...those elongated roofscapes." "We rock!" with more than just Drum & Bass! "Veldt to scrub to..." pitches in deep currents, w/ a miasma of metal & glass peeled away from physical space. The growling city in eldritch dimensions... the city's dark heart. Perhaps "The City & The City" will be more than just an alternate reflection of the Real London & The UnReal London, with fragments of...? "The sky above the city was smeared with cloud," even the best inspire from the best, all new romantics. Be sure more Windows will be bursting open high above weird worlds from Miéville. B-Side note: there's a rumour of another short-story collection by both China & M. John (I don't know him well enough at all to call him Mike, as his friends do, alas). But, rumours are as they are and probably best left to Fleet___ Mac albums (what a pathetic pun). Can't end on that note. "I turn and walk into my home, the city..." You know, into Gross Tar. Back to basics, yes! More Viriconium & New Crobuzon. "We can build (it for) you," maybe... How about stories as: "The Glasshouse"? Or should we might as well just hunt ghosts? "Remade" ~Lake, "Calligne" ~VanderMeer, "Huge Mechanical Wings That Unfolded Like Fans" ~Lansdale, "The Weaver" ~Duncan, "Tar & Canker" ~Swainston, "Imbroglio Of Colour" ~Thomas, "It Was a Garuda" ~Noon, "Grime" ~K. J. Bishop, "Smog Bend" ~Di Filippo "And the Guttural Sound of The Trains" ~Chain King. And the guttural sound of the trains and the guttural sound of the trains.

jon Lyndon said...

Here's something I wrote today based on the potential idea of a collection of shorts taken place in Viriconium &/or New Crobuzon which I mentioned in a previous blurb... this is a speculative experiment, an amalgamation of the two cities and a bit more (if you know Harrison's works, then you'll get it). I can't promise it'll be the best thing you've ever read, but hey, why not give it a go? The inspirations are obvious and now I'm being redundant.
"The constant Otherway." ~jon Lyndon

Pleroma: “It always happens to someone else.” After that my life seemed to settle down, again... I loved the sound of her voice, you see. I built a statue of her, photographed it and recorded her voice in French...

One: From out of a rip in the sky, an insect-like thing tumbled down, spiraling towards the vast desert at far too fast of a speed... In fact it was the space-ship the Heavy Star, spinning from out of the New Venus Tesseract; leaking words: moonlight a white perverted face/ in the bruised yellow gloom

Words, like worlds colliding.
Such a brief glimpse. Then it was gone...

2: The Past City
Frost and fog. The smell of distant dark. Ness wandered straight down Henrietta Street in a blue and enigmatic mood.

“I’ve been in places where they make nothing,” he said to Harrison who passed him by going in the opposite direction... always in the opposite direction, that one, Ness thought, still. It seemed Harrison was ever searching for a place he thought was called Ingland or Unland. Maybe Unwin or Unwind? Strange one, that sin-eater. As always, as well, Harrison ignored Ness and walked ‘neath the curved whalebones that led to the entrance to the cemetery behind Rone Church, mumbling:

The constant Egnaro.

Sure thing, Ness sighed. Autumn hung with the strange-smelling drifts of vanilla of viriconium, under a sky the colour of zinc. This is a November dawn, the only time of year when one can actually smell the metal of the city’s namesake... did it come from the earth, from the fallen leaves, the queer mixtures of alchemical blends by a mad shaman?

No one knew, nor really cared. It was autumn, and Ness was again returned to Viriconium, after fifteen long years gone. Off in Verdigris, Kubin, Saent Saar, Monar, etc... Stifled laughter congealed in the air, the memory sounds of horses that scrape their clogs on the dampened cobblestones, Ness watched as the fog opened up into steaming and streaming ribbons, tatters of tendrils, then close again in his wake.

He blinked. Rubbed his tired eyes. “It’s only Orange spelled backwards,” Ness once explained to Harrison at the Blue Metal Discovery over pints of Black Ale. “That’s just it, don’t you see?” Harrison replied, and continued: “The mirror world, and I will find it! It is here, somewhere. I saw it once in the bathroom of this very place... in the mirror! Glorious buildings like you’ve never seen, and the clothes the people wore who walked streets paved in a beautiful kind of black! Boxes in storefront windows with moving images! Alas, as I reached to put my hand to the glass, it blurred. There I then saw only my face... (“And an ugly one!” laughed sitters nearby) it’s always changing. Been on my mind so long, now. I dream it every night that I begin to swear I am from there... not here...” he trailed off, seemingly into drunken slumber.

“Orange? Egnaro...?”

Ness had only ever heard tales of the legendary, recluse Lord tegeus-Cromis, who saved the Pastel City: Viriconium. Ah, it is good to be back, he shivered energetically, and headed off in either the direction of Tinmarket or the Margarethestrasse. Like Harrison’s Egnaro, this city as well seems to constantly shift...


3: "The city & the city."
Ness found himself wandering through Low City, the desolate and derelict section of the Great City. How he loathed this area... yes! He recognized Rue Sepile along with the faint hint of a cess-pool scent. Ugh! All shabby and shit-hole, and there, the Plaza of Unrealized Time, “Place of Unrealized Time, all the same.” He imagined an incandescence which would melt away this entire area of Viriconium. And all the rats and vagrants that crawled through its putrid streets that ever went downwards, even at times if you were heading in the opposite direction.

Footsteps sounded on the threshold of everywhere, but everywhere he looked not a soul could he see. As much as he did not mind, the very idea haunted him... gave him a strange, peculiar sense. Where are the white steps? Looking up, it seemed the very sky had fell.

Where were the stars? A boiling mist of blackened death now hung above him, pitch as dead night yet he knew by his time-piece and intuition that it was early afternoon. Suddenly the eerie silence was too heavy for his confused ears as he became aware of the absence of birds. Even the absence of drunkards... of pan-handlers, buskers, degenerates, bad street-musicians and worse artists, the plagued poets, diseased prostitutes... it was as if all life had lay hidden inside some vast cloak of nothing.

Ness did not like this, not at all. Nevertheless, up another Nameless Street he ventured. Up! Finally he was actually going up where in the never ending maze behind everywhere was down. Just as he was about to turn and hunt down Harrison, the only soul he had yet seen upon his arrival, new hope sprung into his decaying thoughts.

The Pastel City. The place of his past. Only to find himself ever walking into a depth-less opacity. There was a quick orchestra of insects that swelled, ebbed then flew away as quickly as a Methven Jungle rain. Then, there they were: an architecture of nightmarish buildings (once beautiful, so magnificent!) full of thick cobwebs and overgrown ivy hanging from cracked balconies that were once a splendid ivory colour now stone-grey (The achingly formal gardens and curious geometries, its streets rich with flowers and beautiful, purple lawns; the turquoise towers; vivid tiered heights; triumphal stained glass with intricate designs...

all, gone).

Ness thought of Ashlyme, the portrait painter: where are you, old friend, up here in the High City? “Life is dead up here...” And then a terrible buzzing, loud as horror itself. Their wings were many colours, iridescent and grotesque. Liquid viscous dripped from their quivering mouths, these polluted moths as big as and whole as the Great Waste itself; their bitter eyes streaked with mauve, oily cadmium yellow, discolored green. Ness pulled out his sword, but for naught

the winged, over sized Langouste and Lymantria dispars were over him too quickly

however, he felt no pain, he only saw words... fading words reverberating and buzzing in the swallowing moths from their mouths with an enwrapped mist like coughing ghosts: WHERE THEY ARE GOING WE DO NOT KNOW- THE MOON LOOKING DOWN- the MOUNTAINS BEHIND CLADICH- IN THIS TIME- ST. ELMO-DEEP WASTES- VANISHED--NOTHING HUMAN-of the LOCUST- TIME OF THE LOCUST-

ten-thousand grey-wings beat down on his head! He can see nothing. He was not there... growing mad and strange as... Harrison! Everything melted like candlewax. In the multiplicity of eyes he saw many other universes, strange universes... orange ones... “Egnaro!” ... and then he saw:

A sign: London, 30 kilometres.
Scratched out: Unwin 24 miles.


Un Lun Dun. Unlondon. London, England.

Then it was gone.

Such a brief glimpse.


Four: Jack Frost sat down in the Strait Bar on Strasse Street, in the electric and eldritch glow zone of Serotonin (sometimes called Zero Town). He just got off the Heavy Star... “Bartender, give me a Black Heart Egnaro. Two fingers... and can you tell me where I can find Black Cat White Cat?” Frost smiled at Nessie, the electric shadow-cat that slithered between his boots. He scratched her head, she bit his finger (heh!)

-then she ran off after a Nova Espirium Desert moth...

Epilogue: A dream of dissolution: Harrison must need continue the Viriconium series, before it completely fades into a colour the opposite of orange. Becomes forgotten.

Kenoma: “All of us can, almost.” Now it lies in five or fifteen pieces, the ivory statue of her filmed face in the old mirror, discarded across the blue bolshevik velvet carpet on the floor, bleeding in the red neon from the Bistro Californium, outside. Liv Hula. Her voice always made me shudder, you see. The beautiful ugly. Thus I had to kill her.

I’ve never wanted anything until Liv. In fact, I’ve never really wanted anything since, as well. I picked up another book: "Only the Recently Dead Ride Trains".

I laughed, looking at my ticket to Blackpool.
Still dark.

(Yes, I used a Thesaurus for a few words, LOL. I'm not a professional, obviously, as you'll notice, maybe. The above is not a true attempt at trying to be a story, just an idea which I hope you get... in the guise of a story? If you see lines that read a bit too familiar, than, well, you'll be right: those ones will be the Climber's.


More Viriconium & New Crobuzon!!!

Laurel Anne Hill said...

Warning: "The City & The City" is hard to put down, a real page turner. Start reading "The City & The City" many hours before bedtime. Your eyeballs will thank you.

For my full review, go to

From Laurel Anne Hill (Author of "Heroes Arise")

Brandon Bell said...

Not so much a review as my thoughts after reading the book. Definitely spoilers included, but if you've read The City and the City, please check out my post:


Brandon Bell