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Looking for Jake: Stories Paperback – August 30, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (August 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345476077
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345476074
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #563,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

London is a dangerous and demon-haunted place, at least for the characters in the dark, finely crafted tales presented in Miéville's first story collection. Miéville, who has won Arthur C. Clarke, British Science Fiction and British Fantasy awards, writes of a city besieged by exotic forms of urban decay, monsters, sadistic and ghostly children, as well as, on a lighter note, the Gay Men's Radical Singing Caucus. In the novella "The Tain," the city has been conquered by vengeful creatures who have erupted from every mirror and reflective surface. In "Details," a story with subtle connections to H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos, a young boy meets an elderly woman who has looked too deeply into the patterns that underlie the universe. In "Foundation," perhaps the most powerful story in the book, a veteran must come to terms with the horrors he helped perpetrate during the first Gulf War. Though lacking the baroque complexity and extravagance of Miéville's novels (Iron Council, etc.), these 14 stories, including one in graphic-novel form, serve as a powerful introduction to the work of one of the most important new fantasy writers of the past decade.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Miévilles novels mix Dickensian settings, Lovecraftian terrors, and political theory, showcasing a style uniquely his own. This collection, which brings together a number of pieces previously unavailable in the U.S., displays an even broader range of styles and interests. The weakest offerings are those based solely on the authors political ideas. Tis the Season, for example, is set in a futuristic London at Christmastime, and absolutely everything related to the holiday requires a license of some sort to participate. Although the story is a fun satirical read, it is not likely to be revisited. The author shows his true skill and imagination in the horror-oriented pieces. He has that rare gift of identifying those fears that flicker and lurk within the deepest recesses of our minds and dropping them down right in front of us. The Ball Room turns an everyday playroom in a furniture store into a haunted space of accidents, death, and mystery. The Tain, the longest and probably strongest story, features creatures living in a parallel world who are forced to mimic us as our reflections–until they burst free of their reflective prisons and start a violent war that threatens to destroy humanity. These tales all make wonderful use of elegantly described yet terrifying scenes, lifting them a notch above the standard horror fare. Fans may grumble that only one story is set in New Crobuzon, the fantasyland featured in the novels. Despite some of its flaws, Jake is well worth seeking out.–Matthew L. Moffett, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

China Miéville is the author of King Rat; Perdido Street Station, winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the British Fantasy Award; The Scar, winner of the Locus Award and the British Fantasy Award; Iron Council, winner of the Locus Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award; Looking for Jake, a collection of short stories; and Un Lun Dun, his New York Times bestselling book for younger readers. He lives and works in London.

Customer Reviews

The award winning horror and fantasy novelist provides a powerful anthology that runs the gamut of speculative fiction.
Harriet Klausner
While Mr. Mieville does have his own style (especially in his novels), his short stories show many stylistic similarities to that of Thomas Ligotti.
China Mieville's first collection of short stories is rather a mixed bag - some of these are brilliant, others are not particularly interesting.
A. J. Cull

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Schtinky VINE VOICE on September 28, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
China Mieville at last releases more pieces of his talent in this collection of fourteen stories. Some have been previously released, and if you are a die-hard fan like myself you may already have them.

'Reports of Certain Events In London' was in McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories, 'Entry From A Medical Encyclopedia' was published as 'Buscard's Murrain' in The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide To Eccentric And Discredited Diseases, and 'The Tain' is from Cities.

'Looking For Jake' did leave me slightly disappointed in some areas, namely the political undertones of 'Tis The Season' (originally published in The Socialist Review) and 'An End To Hunger', neither of which contained any real fantasy or horror, and the oddly vapid 'On The Way To The Front', an amateurish graphic piece.

There are, however, other stories in this collection that make the price worthwhile just for them.
'Familiar' is a gruesomely enchanting story of one male witch's creation run amok, 'Different Skies' takes a simple window replacement and shows us the kind of horror that can be reflected in oddness, and 'Foundation' will take you beneath the structures of everyday life and into a man's horrific ability to see the dead below them.

'Jack' is a nice addition to Mieville's 'Perdido Street Station', giving us a bit of background on his character Jack Half-A-Prayer, and 'The Tain' is a twisted tale of mirrors and what lies beyond.

If you are a rabid Mieville fan, you simply must have this book. If you are introducing yourself to Mieville, I actually recommend starting with 'Perdido Street Station' to allow yourself to fully savor this talented writer's rich offerings. Reading Mieville is like eating chocolate cheesecake, rich and satisfying and fulfilling. Enjoy!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jon M Altbergs on October 28, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Short fiction usually comes down to either "loved it" or "hated it" because unlike a novel, the short story can't throw much at a reader beyond a single plot and a character or two. The individual stories in this collection will either work for you or they won't. If you're a fan of Mieville's Bas=Lag novels, then "The Tain" and "Jack" will grab you. If you're a fan of his politics, then "'Tis the Season" and "An End to Hunger" will strike you as some of the best satire since Max Barry's "Jennifer Government." If you like his brooding good looks--which aren't my cup of tea--then I guess you'll like the moody "Looking for Jake"--which wasn't my cup of tea either and in my opinion the weakest piece in the book.

If you're a fan, buy this book. You'll surely find something in it for you. If you are looking for an introduction to Mieville's work, I'd recommend jumping right into "Perdido Street Station," or buying LFJ, reading nothing other than "The Tain," then reading "Perdido" and the rest of Mieville's fine novels.
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Format: Paperback
Lately, China Mieville has been compared to none other than William Gibson with regards to the quality of his prose and storytelling. So I was looking forward to reading "Looking for Jake", hoping it would be as fine a collection of short stories as Gibson's "Burning Chrome". Alas "Looking for Jake" isn't the literary gem that "Burning Chrome" most definitely is, but there is enough here to demonstrate why China Mieville may be the finest British fantasy writer working today, using a poetic literary style which owes much to the likes of William Gibson and Neal Stephenson. If nothing else, "Looking for Jake" demonstrates Mieville's eclectic literary, political and sociological interests, ranging from a horror tale set in the aftermath of the first Gulf War (1990-1991) in the memorable "Foundation" to a giddy celebration of the Christmas season in "'Tis The Season". Fans of his Bas-Long (or New Crobuzon) novel series will find "Looking for Jake" and "Jack" replete with more of the same descriptive, poetic prose that are an important part of these novels. Without question, the best short story is "The Tain", winner of the Locus Prize for Best Novella, describing a near future London overrun by vampires and monsters. Fans of China Mieville's work will truly enjoy this fine collection of short stories.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Wallbanger on September 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
I am a huge fan of "Perdido Street Station" and "The Scar." I didn't really care for "Iron Council," although it was still better than 99% of the fantasy published that year. I enjoyed all of the stories in "Looking for Jake," but two knocked me off my feet and had me scrambling to order the UK hardcover edition: "Familiar" and "Jack."

"Familiar" is the story of a hedge wizard's attempt at creating a familiar, and how it evolves when left to its own devices. This is one of the darkest and most enjoyable short stories I've read in a long time and is my pick for story of the year!

"Jack" is a short tale concerning Jack Half-a-Prayer, and is a glorious return to form for Mieville. It is set in New Crobuzon, and if you liked the first couple of Bas Lag books, this story is essential.

Overall, a strong collection. I would have given it 5 stars, but really wanted to see more Bas Lag material. Maybe next collection...
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on October 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
Whether you are an absolute sci-fi fan or just wanting your first taste of sci-fi/fantasy, you'll want to get China Mieville's book, Looking for Jake. Already an acclaimed award-winning author, Mieville continues to please with his thirteen stories and one novella in this volume.

The title story is also the first story and previews the flavor of the rest of the collection by causing the reader to wonder what's going on underneath the obvious and what could possibly happen next.

"The Ball Room" takes the familiar (the playroom that retail establishments furnish to entertain children while their parents shop) to a new plane of things not being as they seem. You'll feel the fun--and the tension--that awaits in the ball room.

While each of a the stories brings its own appeal ranging from intense visions to paranoia, every one of them contains the author's powerful voice and tempts the reader to see things with new eyes.

Just when you think the writing reaches the top, you come to the novella, "The Tain," and experience "The Looking Glass" in a way Lewis Carroll couldn't imagine.

Armchair Interviews says: Looking for Jake: Stories delights sci-fi and fantasy fans--new and old. Get the book, read the stories, and prepare to turn your imagination on full blast.
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