Archive for March 2010
This review was originally published on Worm’s Sci Fi Haven
Not a sequel to Mieville’s Perdido Street Station, The Scar is part action, part mangled romance, part alien magical steampunk dream sequence. As usual, Mieville peppers the narrative with stunning imagery that is equally grotesque yet full of a natural and violent beauty.
I think you’ve got to be a fan of certain types of fiction and styles of prose to enjoy The Scar. There are very few (if any) likeable characters, and no good guys or bad guys, no certainties, no promises of a happy ending, or really any kind of ending. Mieville’s style of prose is the kind that works hand in hand with your imagination. If you’re not willing to partner with it and accept the bizarre as normal, you may not enjoy yourself.
A resident of the doomed city of New Crobuzon, Bellis knows the police will be at her door any day due to her relationship with Issac Dan der Grimnebulin (of Perdido Street Station infamy). She gets herself hired as a translator on a merchant ship, but the ship is soon attacked by pirates. Along with the rest of passengers and slaves on board, Bellis is taken to the floating pirate city of Armada, where she is set up with a job and a roof over her head, and the slaves are set free-ish. The rulers of Armada, known only as “The Lovers”, are inseperable, masochistic, and have a un-piratic plan that involves stealing a floating oil rig, calling up a mystical creature from the depths, and visiting the scar at the end of the world. In utter denial of what’s going on around her, Bellis get caught in a manipulative love triangle between an officer and a dissenter, both of which could get her imprisoned, or killed.
This review was originally posted on ARWZ. The only changes that have been made are a few grammatical fixes.
Gene Wolfe’s award winning 4 book series The Book of the New Sun has recently been reprinted in two volumes, each containing 2 novels. Shadow & Claw includes the first two novels – Shadow of the Torturer and Claw of the Conciliator. Wolfe presents this sci-fantasy story as a translation of a document written in a “language that does not exist yet.” The dense prose is full of archaic words, which Wolfe explains a part of the challenge of a translation and transliteration. With a feeling of historical novels and hero quest fantasy, Wolfe is giving the reader a vision of distant future. Urth and her people are dessicated and dim, and the sun is cooling in her last days. Dripping in adventure, sex, sword fights, coming-of-age, and destiny, Shadow & Claw is swimming in religious parable, symbolism, and hero mythology.