Eye-bulging escapades tempered with invention and mordant wit, perfectly complemented by the author’s own pen-and-ink...

RAILSEA

Moby-Dick meets Kidnapped by way of the Strugatsky brothers’ Roadside Picnic: Another astonishing blend of cyberpunk, steampunk, fantasy and science fiction, from the hugely talented author of Embassytown (2011, etc.).

In a world of endless land threaded and interwoven with train tracks, gigantic and voracious subterranean rats, stoats, millipedes and the like, layer upon layer of archaeological remains and a poisonous upper sky inhabited by flying angels, Capt. Naphi of the moletrain Medes hunts Mocker-Jack, a colossal yellow molelike moldywarpe. Other moletrain captains like Naphi are equally obsessed with pursuing their “philosophy,” while other trains make a living salvaging the plentiful and often incomprehensible detritus of past civilizations and the discarded junk of passing aliens, while still others ply more orthodox trades. Young Sham Yes ap Soorap is Medes’ apprentice doctor, a profession he has little aptitude for or interest in. While investigating a wrecked train, with which the landscape is littered, he discovers an ancient camera card whose pictures show, impossibly, a part of the Railsea that has narrowed down to a single set of tracks. Who took the pictures, and where might the tracks lead? Many folks, including pirates and some of Medes’ own crew, dream of treasure. Miéville’s omniscient, detachedly amused narrator (whose identity is eventually, slyly, revealed) follows these and other points of view in relating a yarn that can be read as pure adventure, tongue-in-cheek homage, gleeful satire or philosophical meditation. It’s billed as YA and, indeed, Miéville’s usual high level of violence and sex is toned down, often to the point where the characters appear gender free (in one case, literally so).

 Eye-bulging escapades tempered with invention and mordant wit, perfectly complemented by the author’s own pen-and-ink drawings of the Railsea’s weird denizens.

Pub Date: May 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-345-52452-2

Page Count: 433

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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THE BANISHED

In a prequel to The Ice Bear (1986), Siri’s people live in the frozen Starkland settlement, residing peacefully with the primitive Furfolk, who communicate by whuffles and grunts. Siri’s Uncle Thorvald plans to convince the king to rescind their people’s banishment to that remote arctic isle with the gift of an ice bear and its cubs. To do this he needs the help of his friend, a Furfolk man, who can handle the bear on the long sea journey; Siri accompanies them disguised as one of the Furfolk man’s children. But when the king insists that the Furfolk man stay with the bear, Thorvald is forced to betray his friend for the sake of his people, while Siri chooses to betray Thorvald for her new Furfolk friends. Her allegiances have shifted during the course of the journey, and in the end it is left unclear whether her people will try to destroy the Furfolk, and what Siri can do to stop them. This complex, atmospheric morality tale offers no easy answers, and takes place in a world that is alien and exotic. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16602-4

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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AFTER HAMELIN

An expansion of the classic story of the pied piper, this tells of young Penelope, left behind when the piper returns for the children of Hamelin after saving the town from rats. On her 11th birthday, she must enter the world of dreams, accompanied by an eclectic assortment of companions—a talking cat, a jump-roping dragon, a blind harpist—and eventually face the piper himself in a battle of power, greed, and music. Narrated by a 101-year-old Penelope, the story bounces between recollections of the adventure, ruminations on her life, and meeting another Penelope, who is approaching her 11th birthday. By trying to incorporate too many subplots, Richardson fails to explain some of the more central points of the main story. He also introduces and dismisses concepts and props with no consistency. Penelope brings a jump rope with her, but it is rarely mentioned until she has use for it. The only way for Penelope to resist the piper’s enchanted music is to not hear it; she suddenly becomes deaf on her 11th birthday, an occurrence left unexplained. Nor does the reader ever find out why she conveniently regains her hearing upon entering the dreamland. Contrived and disjointed, this is an original interpretation that lacks development. Likely to attract lovers of fairy-tales, but it will disappoint. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-55037-629-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Firefly

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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