Saturday, July 17, 2010

#38: The City and The City by China Mieville

A cop in the city-state of Beszel tries to solve the murder of a woman from the neighboring city-state of Ul Quoma, while facing political complications and his own inner demons, in China Mieville's ultra-strange science fiction/noir hybrid The City and The City.

Despite the brief summary, Mieville's work is hard to explain.  Beszel is a fading Eastern European-style city, whereas Ul Quoma is a rising military dictatorship experimenting with democracy; guarding the borders between the two cities is a mysterious policing group called The Breach.  But both cities occupy the same geographical space, differentiating philosophically by citizens "unseeing" each other and the other part of the city.

It's as unique a chunk of sci-fi as I have read (and I read a lot of Philip Dick, Ursula LeGuin, and Samuel R. Delany); sort of what might happen if Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko went to visit Delany's Dhalgren

For those willing to be patient, and take a chance on something quite unique, this comes recommended.

I actually took a recommendation on this one myself from my pal Troy, and checked it out from the Morrison-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana.

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