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Saturday, March 05, 2011

The City & the City



If Philip K. Dick and Raymond Chandler's love child were raised by Franz Kafka, the writing that emerged might resemble China Mieville's new novel, "The City & the City." - from the LA Times book review



My latest book from the library is the science fiction/fantasy/detective novel The City & the City by British writer China Miéville. I was lucky to be able to find an audio CD copy through library-sharing, since genre fiction isn't often bought in audio for my library.

As Wikipedia states, the novel tied with Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl for the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Novel and was awarded Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, Arthur C. Clarke Award, World Fantasy Award and BSFA Award as well, besides being nominated for Nebula and John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Nove.

The story has a really interesting basic concept - that people see what they want to see ....

The City & The City takes place in the cities of Besźel and Ul Qoma. These two cities actually occupy much of the same geographical space, but via the volition of their citizens (and the threat of the secret power known as Breach), they are perceived as two different cities. A denizen of one city must dutifully 'unsee' (that is, consciously erase from their mind or fade into the background) the denizens, buildings, and events taking place in the other city — even if they are an inch away. This separation is emphasized by the style of clothing, architecture, gait, and the way denizens of each city generally carry themselves. Residents of the cities are taught from childhood to recognize things belonging to the other city without actually seeing them. Ignoring the separation, even by accident, is called "breaching" - a terrible crime by the citizens of the two cities, even worse than murder.

I'm just a little ways into the book so far, but I like it :)


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