Sunday, May 23, 2010

The City & The City by China Miéville

This book is more a detective story than science fiction or fantasy, at most could be described as magical realism. The main “fantastical element” is setting, a vaguely eastern European city which consists of two separate cities occupying the same locale, and inhabitants of both cities living on the same streets but ignoring each other. Noticing the other city or anything which happens there is about the worst thing one can do, and if that happens a mysterious agency, “breach” arrives to get the offenders. Usually, no one sees them ever again.

When a murdered young woman is found on one of the cities, and it is found out that she is a foreigner, and was working on an archeological dig in the other city, a very usual co-operation between the police forces of both cities is needed.

Very fascinating (but not very logical) concept, very well written book. There are perhaps somewhat too little in the book about the history of the cities, and why the inhabitants are still grasping SO much to the concept of two separate cities, and those few “unificationists” who would like to combine the cities are largely considered like loonies. Even considering the effect of “breach” authority that isn’t really logical. Anyway, the description of locales and people is very much alive and fascinating.

After reading four out of six novels nominated for Hugo award this year, this is by far my favorite.

352 pp.

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