Railsea

China Miéville

Railsea

On board the moletrain Medes, Sham Yes ap Soorap watches in awe as he witnesses his first moldywarpe hunt. The giant mole bursting from the earth, the harpoonists targeting their prey, the battle resulting in one’s death and the other’s glory are extraordinary. But no matter how spectacular it is, travelling the endless rails of the railsea, Sham can't shake the sense that there is more to life. Even if his philosophy-seeking captain can think only of the hunt for the ivory-coloured mole she’s been chasing – ever since it took her arm all those years ago. When they come across a wrecked train, at first it's a welcome distraction. But the impossible salvage Sham finds in the derelict leads to considerably more than he'd bargained for. Soon he's hunted on all sides: by pirates, trainsfolk, monsters and salvage-scrabblers. And it might not be just Sham's life that's about to change. It could be the whole of the railsea. 4.4 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
Railsea

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Format Hardcover
Pages 384
RRP
Date of Publication May 2012
ISBN 978-0230765108
Publisher Macmillan
 

On board the moletrain Medes, Sham Yes ap Soorap watches in awe as he witnesses his first moldywarpe hunt. The giant mole bursting from the earth, the harpoonists targeting their prey, the battle resulting in one’s death and the other’s glory are extraordinary. But no matter how spectacular it is, travelling the endless rails of the railsea, Sham can't shake the sense that there is more to life. Even if his philosophy-seeking captain can think only of the hunt for the ivory-coloured mole she’s been chasing – ever since it took her arm all those years ago. When they come across a wrecked train, at first it's a welcome distraction. But the impossible salvage Sham finds in the derelict leads to considerably more than he'd bargained for. Soon he's hunted on all sides: by pirates, trainsfolk, monsters and salvage-scrabblers. And it might not be just Sham's life that's about to change. It could be the whole of the railsea.

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Reviews

The Guardian

Tony Bradman

What kind of novel might someone produce if he had been influenced by writers such as Joan Aiken, the Awdrys, Daniel Defoe, Ursula Le Guin, Herman Melville, Robert Louis Stevenson, the Strugatsky Brothers and Spike Milligan? The answer is Railsea, China Miéville's latest book, a wildly inventive crossover/young adult fantasy with elements of SF and trains, lots of trains, all done with the kind of brio of which most writers can only dream.

23/05/2012

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The Scotsman

Stuart Kelly

Miéville’s politics – a commitment to the Left – are well known (his wonderful photo-essay about last year’s London riots can be found at www.londonsoverthrow.org), and although it is more sotto voce in Railsea it is nevertheless present. It addresses issues of ownership and innovation, capital projects and insane competitions, but never in a manner which is strident or unrelated to the narrative. The book can be read purely for its own dizzying inventions – there are, steam-powered angels and the Squabbling Gods – and as a canny play of ideas.

19/05/2012

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The Sunday Times

Alison Flood

It sounds — and is — utterly bizarre, and perhaps only Miéville could pull it off. But he does, as ever, with gusto.

01/07/2012

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The Independent

David Barnett

Railsea initially comes over as a cross between the 1990 movie Tremors and the most famous book by Miéville's near-namesake Herman Melville – Moby Dick. Sham rides the Medes as it hunts gigantic moles and other grotesques for food, dreaming of his true calling digging for salvage from the time long gone, while the captain of his train, Abacat Naphi, pursues her "philosophy": any railsea train captain worth her salt has lost a limb to a monster, which comes to represent an abstract concept, and devotes her life, Ahab-like, to hunting it down.

20/05/2012

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The Financial Times

James Lovegrove

Miéville has imagination to burn, and his ability to conjure up striking unreal landscapes and bizarre baroque technology is second to none. Railsea has a terrific tale to tell but struggles to breathe beneath the weight of references to famous novels, winking asides and look-at-me prose ... In the end, you wish Miéville would have more faith in his own formidable storytelling skills and not place so many unnecessary barriers between reader and narrative.

26/05/2012

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