What William Gibson did for science fiction, China Mi'ville has done for fantasy, shattering old paradigms with fiercely imaginative works of startling, often shocking, intensity. Now from this brilliant young writer comes a groundbreaking collection of stories, many of them previously unavailable in the United States, and including four never-before-published tales-one set in Mi'ville's signature fantasy world of New Crobuzon.
London is a dangerous and demon-haunted place, at least for the characters in the dark, finely crafted tales presented in Mieville's first story collection. Mieville, who has won Arthur C. Clarke, British Science Fiction and British Fantasy awards, writes of a city besieged by exotic forms of urban decay, monsters, sadistic and ghostly children, as well as, on a lighter note, the Gay Men's Radical Singing Caucus. In the novella "The Tain," the city has been conquered by vengeful creatures who have erupted from every mirror and reflective surface. In "Details," a story with subtle connections to H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos, a young boy meets an elderly woman who has looked too deeply into the patterns that underlie the universe. In "Foundation," perhaps the most powerful story in the book, a veteran must come to terms with the horrors he helped perpetrate during the first Gulf War. Though lacking the baroque complexity and extravagance of Mieville's novels (Iron Council, etc.), these 14 stories, including one in graphic-novel form, serve as a powerful introduction to the work of one of the most important new fantasy writers of the past decade. Agent, Mic Cheetham. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 30, 2005
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Excerpt from Looking for Jake by China Mieville
I don't know how I lost you. I remember there was that long time of searching for you, frantic and sick-making . . . I was almost ecstatic with anxiety. And then I found you, so that was alright. Only I lost you again. And I can't make out how it happened.
I'm sitting out here on the flat roof you must remember, looking out over this dangerous city. There is, you remember, a dull view from my roof. There are no parks to break up the urban monotony, no towers worth a damn. Just an endless, featureless cross-hatching of brick and concrete, a drab chaos of interlacing backstreets stretching out interminably behind my house. I was disappointed when I first moved here; I didn't see what I had in that view. Not until Bonfire Night.
I just caught a buffet of cold air and the sound of wet cloth in the wind. I saw nothing, of course, but I know that an early riser flew right past me. I can see dusk welling up behind the gas towers.
That night, November the fifth, I climbed up and watched the cheap fireworks roar up all around me. They burst at the level of my eyes, and I traced their routes in reverse to mark all the tiny gardens and balconies from which they flew. There was no way I could keep track; there were just too many. So I sat up there in the midst of all that red and gold and gawped in awe. That washed-out grey city I had ignored for days spewed out all that power, that sheer beautiful energy.
I was seduced then. I never forgot that display, I was never again fooled by the quiescence of the backstreets I saw from my bedroom window. They were dangerous. They remain dangerous.
But of course it's a different kind of dangerous now. Everything's changed. I floundered, I found you, I lost you again, and I'm stuck above these pavements with no one to help me.
I can hear hissing and gentle gibbering on the wind. They're roosting close by, and with the creeping dark they're stirring, and waking.
You never came round enough. There was I with my new flat above the betting shops and cheap hardware stores and grocers of Kilburn High Road. It was cheap and lively. I was a pig in shit. I was happy as Larry. I ate at the local Indian and went to work and self-consciously patronised the poky little independent bookshop, despite its pathetic stock. And we spoke on the phone and you even came by, a few times. Which was always excellent.
I know I never came to you. You lived in fucking Barnet. I'm only human.
What were you up to, anyway? How could I be so close to someone, love someone so much, and know so little about their life? You wafted into northwest London with your plastic bags, vague about where you'd been, vague about where you were going, who you were seeing, what you were up to. I still don't know how you had the money to indulge your tastes for books and music. I still don't understand what happened with you and that woman you had that fucked-up affair with.