The Scar by China Miéville
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
So. I have a question for you.
When's the last time you watched vampires go fishing?
Then where the f***ing hell have you been? Seriously!
Okay, so the effort involved is a bit more than even the undead can muster, and a fleet, or no, actually, a whole *nation* of boats has a hard time with this fish story.
Of course, Miéville finally gets to show us how he deals with an epic war scene, interesting treatments of betrayal, kidnapping, Stockholm Syndrome, and extended spycraft, but what's really interesting is how deep the details go.
Don't read this if you're skimming or intend to skim. There's just too many deep and awesome tidbits that fly by if you're not careful. I mean, I've been extremely curious about how all these different races came together in the first place, or at least how humans arrived or emerged on this world, and YES, there are a couple of fly-by-night anecdotes that tell us that this IS, Indeed, SF. Damn awesome reality bending SF, too, with enough hints to stuff a goose or at least one of the more interesting inhabitants of New Crobuzon. (And don't worry, at least ONE of the races will come along and clean up the mess.)
I actually really loved all the sequences that filled out my slowly budding knowledge of the Bas-Lag universe, like what's involved in being Remade or the more esoteric races that cannibalize and twist the dominate technology of the world. Having airships and submarines is just icing on the cake, of course, but I think I might have been most thrilled by the continuing focus on scholarship and study. Who wants a real action hero, anyway? If we're going to get into the New Weird, then let's at least have the right characters available to make the fractal flower bloom, right?
Best parts include the changing perception of the Armada, from unfortunate press-gangers to a free and awesome society of truly epic minds and goals. Just like the first book in the series, Perdido Street Station, the city is a deep and revolving character in it's own right, changing, at least in its inhabitant's perceptions, into something complex and multi-layered and and not only flawed, but almost heroic.
Of course, when messing with a sea monster with all your might, it's not hard to be perceived as heroic, even if it is their own damn fault. :)
This is truly a classic and creative tale, and I can never do it real justice in a single stupid review. The novel is as rich in detail as it is in awesome description, interesting characters, and great payoffs. Just don't enter into a read with anything other than your full attention, or you'll be missing out on a ton of great easter eggs.
(I know. I had to start it again because I misapprehended the scope and creativity of the author. Hell. I should have known better. I've read a ton of his other novels. BUT. The Bas-Lag series is truly serious in its creativity, so READER BEWARE.)
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