20 December, 2013

Railsea by China Mieville [reviewed by Paul, Birkenhead]

Mr Mieville. With a name like that I just know that somewhere he must have a Mini-Me. No wonder his point of views are so unusual..

Think King Rat. The boy-rat rat-boy slipping in and out of every bit of London's architecture in one long carnival ride, wild with the enthusiasms of language. There's been many intriguing books since then, but I've really enjoyed Railsea. The politics, the politicisation, is better submerged in the story, so the adventure and language stand out and almost get clean away, and us carried with them. Perhaps this is because it's a "kids" book. Who cares? Giant moles! Slipping in and out of every bit of.

It's like Moby Dick on Dune, with trains. Oh my-

Actually if Lance Armstrong has taught us anything it's that it's not about giant moles per se, but the whole ecosystem. Big moles, little moles, and the boy who would be. And this world, why is it as it is?

As usual Mieville (Melville?) is unusual, taking tropes and trumping them. So, the Captain Ahab figure drives a train and is female, yes. But the radical aspect here is how she's only one among many Ahabs and their obsessions are codified and socialised. They might as well form a group on Facebook.. It's all a fabulous sub-detail, neatly gilded to the main plot. It's a triumph of Mieville's wit and an essential part of his ethic.

Yes but.. giant moles!


Title: Railsea
Author: China Mieville
Publisher: Del Ray Ballantine 2012.


Reviewed by Paul, Birkenhead Library.

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