Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Roberson & Miéville reviewed at SFFWorld

Chris Roberson writes fun, engaging stories. I reviewed his latest novel, End of the Century and posted the review last night:

Roberson gives us three stories/story threads here: Alice Fell, a young girl with visions that pull her to London and involve her in a caper; Galaad, a young fighter of Artor’s realm in Briton who has his own 0visions which eventually lead he and his King on a quest; and a Victorian era mystery as the enigmatic Sandford Blank and his sidekick/associate Miss Roxanne Bonaventure, investigate a potential serial killer. Essentially, these are Roberson’s analogues to Galahad and his Quest for the Grail, Alice in Wonderland, and Holmes & Watson.

It would be unsurprising for one of the three story strands to either be stronger or take dominance over the other two. Roberson is a better writer than that – there isn’t a sense that one is more important than the other. In fact, he crafts the plot and story so well that each story, by novel’s end, could not really function without the other two. As the stories develop, elements common to all three pop-up; in particular, a dark hunter pursues Alice in the “Millennium” (c. 2000) storyline, while a similar Huntsman stalks Blank & Bonaventure.

Mark also posted a review of one of the genre’s most anticipated books of the year, The City and the City by China Miéville. I've got a copy of the book myself, but haven't had a chance to jump in yet. Here's Mark's review:

The book actually starts, knowingly, as a homage to detective novels. (Raymond Chandler is referenced in the acknowledgements.) Detective Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Extreme Crime Squad is summoned to a homicide of a young blonde woman found on the streets of central European-like BesŸel.

So far, so typically a crime novel. But of course, this being China, it’s not long before things start to read strangely. The first person narrative begins to speak of ‘unseeing’ things. Another city, that of Ul Qoma, is mentioned.

As this masterful conceit is revealed, the reader becomes aware that the tale is more than that of a murder but actually more a tale of two cities: BesŸel and Ul Qoma overlap each other in space to such a degree that you can walk from one side of a city street to the other and find yourself suddenly in the other city.

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