A mythmaker of the highest order, China Mieville has emblazoned the fantasy novel with fresh language, startling images, and stunning originality. Set in the same sprawling world of Mieville's Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning novel, Perdido Street Station, this latest epic introduces a whole new cast of intriguing characters and dazzling creations.Aboard a vast seafaring vessel, a band of prisoners and slaves, their bodies remade into grotesque biological oddities, is being transported to the fledgling colony of New Crobuzon. But the journey is not theirs alone. They are joined by a handful of travelers, each with a reason for fleeing the city. Among them is Bellis Coldwine, a renowned linguist whose services as an interpreter grant her passage-and escape from horrific punishment. For she is linked to Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin, the brilliant renegade scientist who has unwittingly unleashed a nightmare upon New Crobuzon.For Bellis, the plan is clear: live among the new frontiersmen of the colony until it is safe to return home.
- Hugo Awards
- Philip K. Dick Award
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June 24, 2002
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Excerpt from The Scar by China Mieville
A mile below the lowest cloud, rock breaches water and the sea begins.
It has been given many names. Each inlet and bay and stream has been classified as if it were discrete. But it is one thing, where borders are absurd. It fills the spaces between stones and sand, curling around coastlines and filling trenches between the continents.
At the edges of the world the salt water is cold enough to burn. Huge slabs of frozen sea mimic the land, and break and crash and reform, crisscrossed with tunnels, the homes of frost-crabs, philosophers with shells of living ice. In the southern shallows there are forests of pipe-worms and kelp and predatory corals. Sunfish move with idiot grace. Trilobites make nests in bones and dissolving iron.
The sea throngs.
There are free-floating top-dwellers that live and die in surf without ever seeing dirt beneath them. Complex ecosystems flourish in neritic pools and flatlands, sliding on organic scree to the edge of rock shelves and dropping into a zone below light.
There are ravines. Presences something between molluscs and deities squat patiently below eight miles of water. In the lightless cold a brutality of evolution obtains. Rude creatures emit slime and phosphorescence and move with flickerings of unclear limbs. The logic of their forms derives from nightmares.
There are bottomless shafts of water. There are places where the granite and muck base of the sea falls away in vertical tunnels that plumb miles, spilling into other planes, under pressure so great that the water flows sluggish and thick. It spurts through the pores of reality, seeping back in dangerous washes, leaving fissures through which displaced forces can emerge.
In the chill middle deeps, hydrothermic vents break through the rocks and spew clouds of superheated water. Intricate creatures bask in this ambient warmth their whole short lives, never straying beyond a few feet of warm, mineral-rich water into a cold which would kill them.
The landscape below the surface is one of mountains and canyons and forests, shifting dunes, ice caverns and graveyards. The water is dense with matter. Islands float impossibly in the deeps, caught on charmed tides. Some are the size of coffins, little slivers of flint and granite that refuse to sink. Others are gnarled rocks half a mile long, suspended thousands of feet down, moving on slow, arcane streams. There are communities on these unsinking lands: there are hidden kingdoms.
There is heroism and brute warfare on the ocean floor, unnoticed by land-dwellers. There are gods and catastrophes.
Intruding vessels pass between the sea and the air. Their shadows fleck the bottom where it is high enough for light to reach. The trading ships and cogs, the whaling boats pass over the rot of other craft. Sailors' bodies fertilize the water. Scavenger fish feed on eyes and lips. There are jags in the coral architecture where masts and anchors have been reclaimed. Lost ships are mourned or forgotten, and the living floor of the sea takes them and hides them with barnacles, gives them as caves to morays and ratfish and cray outcastes; and other more savage things.