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107 of 117 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of my top reads of 2012
I'm not going to lie and say that Railsea is a book I will be recommending to all readers, but I will, with certainty, be recommending it to anyone and everyone I think would enjoy it. Railsea isn't what anyone expects to see under the `YA' label. Many have argued that it isn't really YA at all, but when a book is pitched as `a novel for readers of all ages', I don't...
Published on May 15, 2012 by H. Frederick

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clever Fun but Empty Calories
I've read most of Mieville's work and his books range from stunning (Perdido Street Station) to disappointing (Kraken). This is the only YA novel I've read. Railsea drops the reading complexity down a notch and creates a nice concept that serves as an homage to many earlier works, especially Moby Dick. It's hard to imagine there's not some Frank Herbert influence as...
Published on January 12, 2013 by Ken Lawrence

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4.0 out of 5 stars "If You Buy the Premise, You Buy the Bit", January 10, 2014
fredtownward "The Analytical Mind; Have Brain... (Mocksville, North Carolina, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Railsea (Paperback)
The problem is that this is one of the most ridiculous premises in the history of science fiction: on a world not our own, a world in which the ocean basins have been emptied of water and all but completely filled with a labyrinth of overlapping, interlocking railroad tracks called the Railsea, underneath which swarm burrowing predators grown to gargantuan size, the obsessive whale hunt of Moby-Dick is played out with trains and giant moles....

Compared to this, the flying whales of Philip Jose Farmer's The Wind Whales of Ishmael and the ice dwelling whales of Michael Moorcock's The Ice Schooner are perfectly plausible.

To author China Mieville's credit, it almost works. I've never seen a more ridiculous world better built. For as long as the reader can suspend belief this crazy world holds together and the equally crazy quests for Mocker Jack, the Great White Mole, and for What Should Not Be: a SINGLE railroad track, straight as an arrow, surrounded by NOTHING but empty earth, draw the reader along. There are some hilarious bits (like the running gag about the ridiculous number of train captain hunters with "philosophies", that is particular animals they are in vengeful, obsessive pursuit of) and the intricate descriptions of the various kinds of trains voyaging upon the Railsea: steam, diesel, fusion, wind, even muscle powered. And the very concept of the Railsea solves a dilemma that stymied Ian McDonald in Ares Express: how to make plausible the concept of itinerant trains? (Due to the unpleasant consequences should two or more trains attempt to occupy the same rails at the same time, railroads have been the most tightly controlled form of transportation from their very invention.)

Defects? A few, unfortunately. That our hero spends most of the book as such a feckless loser doesn't help; by the time Sham Yes ap Soorap even BEGINS to "man up" to the challenges he faces, the book is more than half gone. The ending is also something of a disappointment. Not all that much is actually revealed, and it appears to be intended as a particularly ham handed critique of Capitalism...

by an author who has no clue what he is talking about. No corporation, answerable to any sort of owners, could POSSIBLY behave that stupidly. Only tyrannical governments ever have been (or ever could be) that stupid.

Still, I cannot deny that it was a fun ride while it lasted. It would have helped I think for the author to have made up his mind on whether he was writing a Serious Book about Serious Issues or a laugh out loud parody. As it is, the book is too silly to take at all seriously and too serious to excuse the most ridiculous parts.
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4.0 out of 5 stars dazzling sci-fi remake of a classic, April 9, 2013
This review is from: Railsea (Hardcover)
My review is really 4.5 stars.

Really whacked-out SF/fantasy from the expert in whacked-out SF/fantasy, China Mieville.

This parody of Moby Dick transfers the setting to a distant future where the known world has been corrupted and polluted by warring rail companies. Environmental degradation and invasion by aliens has compounded the problem, and humans dwell on "islands" linked by traintracks that join together in endless complexity in the Railsea. The ground between the city/islands teems with overgrown moles, insects, worms, and blood rabbits. All threaten human life with their insatiable appetites.

I have not (shocking admission) read Moby Dick, but I can tell you the following:
Instead of hunting a giant whale, the (female) captain is hunting her "philosophy"--a giant mole who represents everything.

Our main character is not the Captain, though. Sham Yes ap Soorap is, and he is a charmingly aimless teen who becomes the doctor's apprentice aboard the moletrain. This is his coming-of-age tale, but also a story about the nature of adventure itself.

The author's illustrations of the creepy creatures described in the book are a nice touch, but I'd rather have had a map!

Often delightful and occasionally mindboggling-ly inventive, Railsea (like almost anything by the author) is a challenging read. Mieville's pretty much the only writer today who sends me to a dictionary with every book. Don't pack this book for light beach reading. Plan to savor it when you don't mind working for your fun.

The book is supposed to be YA. There is indeed no foul language, and no sex, but the complexity of the language and the plot make it a very literary novel (even if SF!) and most readers under 18 would probably have to dissect it with the guidance of a teacher. But I see a future where this book is read in a high-school unit with Moby Dick.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing story very original writing., March 3, 2013
This review is from: Railsea (Hardcover)
This is not a book for everyone but for those that like to think and be challenged by the way language is used this is a good book for you. This was classified as Young Adult by some places and not by others. This is not an easy book to read and I would think that much of what makes it interesting would be lost on younger readers. My feeling is that because the book is told from a young boy's perspective it is categorized as such. There are some young adults that would be able to understand all the intricacies of this book but I think it is more appropriate for an adult audience.

"At a fair on Streggeye, a show of restored findings. Hooked up to chuggering generators, a whining thing like a needy animal prince issuing stupid orders: a fax machine. An ancient screen on which enthusiastic badly drawn figures hit each other: a vijogame." (p.156)

Miéville plays with language in this story in a way that makes the reader at times feel like they are being told a story but so all knowing being and at times as though they are with the characters on the railsea living through the struggles they face. Because of the use of language in here this is not a book for everyone, there will be people that will love it, and those that will hate it. I can't say that being a fan of Fantasy/Science Fiction is going to make you a fan of this book. Nor can I say that like the intricacy of language play will help you like this book. If you do decide to pick of this book, which I would suggest you do, you need to give it at least until page 30 where much of the world the book takes place in is described. I would however suggest reading at least to Part II before you say it isn't for you.

" People have wanted to narrate since first we banged rocks together & wondered about fire. There'll be tellings as long as there are any of us here, until the stars disappear one by one like turned-out lights." (p. 106)

This is an exert from a short chapter that is more about something outside of the story than within the story or a comment on the actual telling of the story. The book is full of short chapters that are both thought provoking and remove the reader from the story, these will annoy some readers but I found them intriguing.

The use of "&;" rather than the writing out of "and" will take some getting used to but the explanation which doesn't come until page 163 is worth reading and had it come any sooner would not have had the same impact that it does coming later in the story.

I do not want to say to much about the plot of the story as saying more than is in the summary will give away to much and the discovery is worth the read. This is one of the best books that I have read in a long while. I highly recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars If I Could Give 6 Stars, January 15, 2013
J. Avellanet "of ComplianceZen" (Williamsburg, VA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Railsea (Hardcover)
A powerful, fun, superb return to form for China Mieville, Railsea may be one of Mr. Mieville's best books. Railsea depicts a world where the "ocean" is rail line after rail line, where the plain ground is truly dangerous, where trains hunt like whaling ships of old. As you read the book, it's very hard not to be astounded at the imagination that could envision this, and in 400 pages make this strange world so real, so believable, and then leave you begging for more. I'm stunned, amazed, and hoping that Mr. Mieville will write another novel set in the Railsea.

The novel follows the main character, Sham Yes ap Soorap, as he takes working passage on a moler train (think whaler but a train that hunts giant moles). As Sham and the crew come upon wrecks, and discover mysteries (which lead to more mysteries), Mr. Mieville slowly unfolds a very realistic, very believable history as to why mole trains that hunt the great moles came to be (along with other monstrosities) and how the millions upon millions of rail lines covering much of the earth came about.

I was hesitant at first, as the idea of a land covered in rail lines seemed to stretch the imagination a bit too much, but seeing the positive reviews here and at other book sites and by professional book reviewers in newspapers and the like, made me take the chance. Still, I let the book sit for three months as I worried that Railsea would be a disappointment like Mieville's Kraken. Then, I finally picked Railsea up and read the first 30 or so pages...then 70 and then 100 and then 200 and then...well, I just couldn't put it down.

I titled my review "If I Could Give 6 Stars" for two reasons:

1. It's very, very rare for a writer to create a completely believable world, populate it with fascinating and multi-dimensional characters, have a gripping story to tell, and then tell the story very well (if nothing else, reading the castaway bit at the beginning of chapter 65 is going to get you - it's almost humiliating the way Mr. Mieville can grab us readers).

2. There's so much in this book that for the first time in 30 years (including all the other Mieville books), I actually want to read a novel immediately again just to catch things that I know I didn't quite pick up on the first time around.

And how often can you say both points about one book?

If you like Mr. Mieville, you will love Railsea. Stop reading more reviews and run out and get it. And if this is your introduction to Mr. Mieville, welcome to his strange, fabulous and always addictively entertaining books.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Rail Less Traveled, July 5, 2012
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This review is from: Railsea (Hardcover)
The Railsea is a network of tracks and switches that connects the post-apocalyptic landscape. Trains provide the sole means for humans to traverse this landscape; salvors, those who salvage the remnants of the past, Pirates, the rail-navy that defends the sovereignty of various land isle states, and molers -those trains that hunt the moldywarps, giant moles that burrow beneath the fallow landscapes of what remains of earth.

The Medes is one such mole train. Captain Naphi, an emotionally crippled women with a prosthetic arm hunts the moldywarps, but is really obsessed with only one- Moldy-Jack, the enormous pale colored mole that took her arm and her sanity. The journey of the Medes is seen through the eyes of the young surgeon's assistant who has been essentially indentured to the mole train by his uncles who were entrusted with his care after Sham lost his parents.

It all sounds too familiar, but the connections to the other Melville's classic is really circumstantial. The Railsea is in many ways about Ahab's obsession except on the Railsea most everyone has such an obsession and they are called, their "philosophies" that which moves them so much it informs their lives and totally consumes them.

Sham encounters his "philosophy" when the Medes comes upon the wreckage of an unusual train and Sham is forced to slip through a small opening into the cabin. Their he finds the equivalent of a camera, and on that camera are images that may show the path off of the Railsea. Finding the end of the tracks becomes Sham's "philosophy." With the help of his friends on the Medes, the Railsea equivalent of Bedoins, and the quirky siblings whose parents once captained the strange train that so obsesses him, Sham follows his "philosophy," and in an even more possessed manner than Ahab ever could.

The Railsea is rich in detail. This very foreign landscape that makes up the setting for this novel comes vividly to life. The novel has all the appeal elements of science fiction: exciting battles, strange often deadly alien creatures, unique otherworldly characters, it even has a post apocalyptic city complete with the shambling remnants of its past occupants.

The Railsea is quite simply modern science fiction at its nuanced, inventive best.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What a ride., August 10, 2012
This review is from: Railsea (Hardcover)
Originally reviewed at [...]

4.5/5 Stars

What a ride. I was familiar with author China Miéville, having read some of his adult fiction titles, so when I discovered that he was publishing a YA work, I was excited to see how it would compare with his adult works. Sometimes the transition from one age group to another doesn't go over so well. I won't point any fingers but I have read some adult fiction author's attempts to break into the very popular YA market and fail miserably. YA doesn't equate to less intelligent, and nothing aggravates me more than when a writer tries to dumb down a book for a younger audience. Anyway (sorry about the rant) I am thrilled to say that Miéville's Railsea is just as action packed, imaginative, and smart as his adult works.

My first thoughts regarding Railsea lead me back to two of my favorite bloggers and friends, Heidi (Bunbury in the Stacks) and Asheley (Into the Hall of Books) because both of these girls read and loved this book. In fact, Railsea, had been languishing on my Kindle until I read Heidi's enthusiastic review, spurring me to pick it up and give it a look. I am so glad I did. Railsea has many elements that lovers of fantasy will enjoy. A hero quest across strange lands, chock full of action filled encounters with many odd and, at times, endearing characters. But there are also elements in Railsea that would make the die hard Dystopic fan's jaw drop. A foreign land, that seems at once dangerous, yet eerily familiar to the world we call our own. And Railsea caters to the lover of science fiction as well, full of fantastic burrowing creatures under the earth and even more amazing celestial creatures inhabiting the sky. If you are a fan of steampunk and the salvage filled world found in Paolo Bacigulupi's Ship Breaker, than you'll appreciate the similarities in Railsea. And anyone who enjoys classic works of literature, especially Herman Melville's Moby Dick or Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, will also enjoy Sham Yes ap Soorap's adventure across the railsea. So, to make a long story short, Railsea has a little something for everyone.

In a nutshell, Railsea is a nod to the classic, Moby Dick. But instead of a maritime setting where whaling ships rule the seas, Sham's world is a sea of railroad tracks, crisscrossing the land in a tangled jungle of iron. Rising above are islands, pockets of land where cities have been established like the seaports of old. But below the rails, deep in the ground, are fantastic creatures, burrowing animals that have grown to monstrous sizes, like the great southern moldywarpe. These are the animals Sham and his moletrain, the Medes, hunt in the railsea. In other words: incredible world building.

But that is not just what Railsea is about. In fact there are many different layers to the story, complex layers in fact, but I'll leave the deconstruction of Railsea to those more qualified. Suffice to say, this is a very smart read, a book that will make you think, and Miéville is able to do this in such a fashion it never felt too heavy handed or hard to comprehend (tying in to my rant above!) That is the genius of Miéville. For me, however, Railsea is Sham's story, a story about his desire for knowledge, and the adventure that follows in his quest for it.

I love the character of Sham, though I will admit it wasn't love at first sight. As the assistant to the physician aboard the moletrain Medes, where he lives and works, it took me a bit of time to warm up to him. But I think what I liked most about him was that even though he had a pretty cool gig, traveling to distant lands looking for moldywarpes, he's still not satisfied with the cards he has been dealt. Sham wants more. He longs to become a salvor, one of the many who scour the earth in search of all types of salvage: nu-salvage, and arche-salvage (the salvage of the distant past, i.e. our time, and Sham's favorite) and even alt-salvage, which is off -Terran, in other words, not from our planet. Sham longs for adventure and discovery. Well, he finds it, in more ways than one.

In addition to Sham there are a host of incredible characters featured in Railsea including the captain of the Medes, Naphi, who endlessly tracks her philosophy, her only system of belief, an obsession with the great moldywarpe Mocker Jack. Naphi, a modern day Captain Ahab, is complex and so well written, she's easily one of my favorite characters in Railsea. Aboard the Medes, there are memorable characters at every turn: Sham's trainmates Dr. Fremlo, Vurinam, Benightly and Mbendy to name a few. Miéville introduces the reader to the the salvor Sirocco, and the pirate Robalson, and the siblings Caldera and Dero, who harbor a secret that Sham can't resist. And lets not forget the vast assortment of animals we encounter along the way. From the massive great southern moldywarpe Mocker Jack, to Sham's pet daybat, Daybe, it's in the creation of these amazing animals, both endearing and horrific, where Miéville really shines.

I had heard that there were some beautiful illustrations in Railsea, and even though I had the electronic version of the text, I was stoked to see that they were still included. Maps and illustrations in books are such a cool treat. And cooler yet is that these have been drawn by the author himself.

Sometimes it's not easy to read Railsea. The names are strange, and hard to pronounce, and the setting seems so familiar yet so different at the same time. As I navigated my way through the start of the book I was reminded of Lewis Carroll's Jabberwockey, the language was so odd, the names almost like nonsense words (moldywarpe), yet it didn't take me too long to get a feel for it and decipher the meanings. I have to also mention that the writing style itself confused me a bit. You see the word and is never written out. Never. Instead an ampersand (&) is used in it's place. & I mean the entire length of the book. I was unsure if this was intentional or if this was something only present in my electronic galley version. But later in the book, Miéville actually offers an explanation as to why this occurs. I think Miéville might employ tactics like this as a way to pace the reader, and to always keep fresh in their minds, as it was in mine, that this world in which Sham lives is distinctly different and other from our own.

Another thing I loved about Railsea was Miéville's "breaking of the fourth wall," when a character, or the narrator in this case, addresses the reader directly (think Jane Eyre, when Jane addresses the audience with "Dear Reader.") Here Miéville uses this device to slow the down the action, at times stopping it all together and backtracking in the story. I LOVE when an author employs this device, it makes me feel like I'm not just reading a book, but am instead experiencing the story as if it were being read to me.

And that's what reading Railsea was like. Like sitting around a circle and an elder telling me this fantastic adventure. Or like your grandpa, sitting at your bedside, reading you chapters of this magical story that you know you will remember for the rest of your life. Stories you'll read to your children and grandchildren one day.

I know that when my son's are older, because I think to really get this book, the youngest reader should be an older tween or teen, I will definitely be introducing Railsea to them. Heidi said it best when she said that this book won't be for everyone. But for some, me included, this book is magical. It's timeless, and though it's technically published for a YA audience, this is definitely one of those rare reads that defies categorization. Like Moby Dick, Treasure Island and Ship Beaker, readers of all ages can enjoy this book. If you are already a fan of China Miéville, I think you'll enjoy Railsea, and if you aren't, why not give this one a try? You might find yourself as taken with it as I was.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's about dreams and adventure in a world we want to get to know better., June 4, 2012
Bookreporter (New York, New York) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Railsea (Hardcover)
RAILSEA has been compared to Herman Melville's MOBY DICK, but it's really just China Miéville's take on an adventure story. Its philosophies, the hunt, the unknown, and the need for answers and exploration of our origins drive this novel.

Shamus Yes ap Soorap (Sham for short) is the youngest crew member of the Medes, a mole train on the hunt for a big catch on the great railsea. He has dreams of working salvage --- finding new things, old things, and alien things. What he actually does is assist the doctor of the Medes and bring water to the men and women who are working to break down the moles they hunt into oil, bone and skin. The captain of the Medes, Naphi, is on the hunt for a mole --- a legendary ivory-colored mole called Mocker-Jack. She believes, as other mole train captains do, that capturing Mocker-Jack is her destiny.
When the railsea leads the crew of the Medes to an old wreck, Sham goes with the crew to investigate and finds something he hopes to make his very own piece of salvage. Instead, he hands over the small camera memory chip to the captain. The images it contains lead Sham and his captain in essentially the same direction with different outcomes --- Sham is led to two children of now dead-explorers, and the captain is led to new, never-before-conceived hunting grounds. Naphi's dreams of bringing down Mocker-Jack, her famed ivory-colored mole, now seem within reach.

What Miéville does that I absolutely love is create places so familiar, yet at the same time so strange. He creates a land that the crew is afraid to step on for fear of dying. This world of safe land among animal-prowled soft dirt is both alien and accessible at the same time. It's a world of dirt, but he makes you see it as a world of water --- deep and unsafe water at that. Out in the railsea, it's the tracks that keep everyone safe, and you have no choice but to believe that's the absolute truth of this world.

This is also a book filled with characters you'll care about and fear for in a world poised to attack. Sham is young, untested, naïve, and trusts people too easily. He never knew the fate of his parents, and when he has the opportunity to bring closure to two children whose parents have died, he sets out to do just that, unaware of the implications his actions may bring. His pet, an injured daybat he nursed back to health and named Daybe, is a stalwart friend and more than just a silly little bat. Daybe is fearless, with crazy loyalty to young Sham, and is one of the book's most memorable characters.

I've read several of Miéville's books, and he's now on the list of authors from whom I anxiously await books. No matter the topic, a book by Miéville is one that I want to read. He has an ability to take our world, warp a few elements, twist a few basic beliefs, and make it something so new and strange. These new worlds don't stop existing simply because the book is closed. His worlds and stories stay with you long after the end.

As a side note, I've seen this book described as a young adult novel. It's really much more than that, and much more than just a re-telling of MOBY DICK. It's about dreams and adventure in a world we want to get to know better. And isn't that why we read? China Miéville makes these worlds we crave possible. In fact, you should be reading RAILSEA now.

Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski on June 1, 2012
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Railsea, June 2, 2012
This review is from: Railsea (Hardcover)
I've read a lot of books, but none of them have been nearly so enveloping as Railsea by China Miéville. What do I mean by "enveloping?"

Well, let's take the ampersand for starters. Throughout the book (& this review, because I love it so much) China inserts the ampersand for each "and," & it's there for a reason - which is explained once the story is about 3/4ths of the way through. It's alternatively very, very cool & very distracting, but it works for what it was intended to do & is a constant reminder of how different things are.

Also, there is the narrator. I'm not sure who exactly is narrating the book, but suffice it to say the narrator keeps things interesting. You know those books that jump around between three different sets of characters & always jump right when things are really heating up for the one that has you completely sucked into? The narrator acknowledges that is happening in a way - but still you have to wait & you may have to read a few short pages of the narrator musing on the state of the world in the process. It's very cool - that's all I have to say about that.

This story is part Moby Dick, part Treasure Island, part Robinson Crusoe. There are characters with strange names, a strange world filled with dangerous creatures (I always thought moles were freaky). There's a strange caste structure & instead of sticking to a specific genre, China moves between Steampunk, Post-Apocalyptic, & Dystopia - mixing all three into a wonderful stew of adventure goodness.

Before you dive into this unique, incredible story though let me warn you - it's taxing to the brain. I had to take several breaks before diving back in because my mind was having to work so hard to adjust to everything. This is classified as a Young Adult book, but frankly I haven't worked so hard reading a "Young Adult" book since I picked up Ender's Game.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rollicking adventure treat!, May 19, 2012
This review is from: Railsea (Hardcover)
In Railsea by China Miéville, the orphan Sham ap Soorap lives in a tangle, travelling the railsea as doctor's assistant on the moler Medes. It's not a job he's particularly good at, and it doesn't help he's not quite sure what he wants to do with himself.
The railsea on which the train Medes travels is a dangerous place -- step off the rails, which cover the dry, soft earth-ocean in a Borgesian labyrinth, and you'll find that the monsters of the deep are rather too close to the surface either for comfort or surviving the next five minutes. However, it has its rewards for those who travel the rails, switching their way from line to line in pursuit of salvage, moldywarpes, or philosophies. You might even find your place in life -- or so Sham hopes.
Of course, sometimes you also find something completely unexpected. One day Sham ends up on a crew sent out by the captain to investigate a wrecked train, and comes across some pictures. In short order, Sham finds himself in the middle of a pursuit by pirates, naval trains, and subterrains for what lies behind those pictures -- a truth that will change the world.
Escape Rating A: As with the rest of Miéville's oeuvre, Railsea works on many levels. It's a rollicking adventure tale worthy of Robert Louis Stevenson, a coming-of-age story, and a treat for those who like wordplay. For example, at one point the Medes finds itself trapped between a siller and the Kribbis Hole (read it aloud to fully appreciate).
The book is like the railsea itself, a dense knot of intersecting story lines, changes in points of view, and allusions. The entangling lines of the physical setting matches the complexity of the human setting with its array of diverse island city-states, pirates, salvors, and nomadic Bajjer traveling the lonely sea, to say nothing of the detritus of history and alien influence that litters the world and hints at many untold tales. The book makes it clear that its pages only scratch the surface of a fascinating milieu.
From this knot emerges a meditation on constraint and searching for freedom. The railsea cannot be escaped, seemingly -- as I mentioned, stray off the narrow (though not very straight) tracks and you'll quickly find yourself devoured by the denizens of the soft earth. The high sky is the domain of alien beings too strange and obscure to contemplate. Travel in one direction, and you'll eventually find the rails looping back on themselves. Pursue your obsession, as Ahab did with Moby-Dick, and you'll find yourself in the midst of dozens of captains, each with their own "philosophy" that few of them manage to hunt down.
There's a lot to be said for staying in the thicket -- there are lots of interesting things to find there, as any reader of Miéville has come to expect. Once you reach the end, however, you'll find a rather satisfying breath of fresh air.
Originally published at Reading Reality
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterful Imagination at Work, February 11, 2014
This review is from: Railsea (Paperback)
I've always intended to read one of Mieville's books, but every time I've dipped into one, it hasn't hooked me. This one caught my eye based on title alone, and I thought I'd try it out as an audiobook. From the get-go, I loved the concept of a future in which massive clusters of railroad lines functioned as an ocean, upon which all manner of train travel, some hunting for animals, some hunting for salvage, some pirating. Mieville's taken the tropes and conventions of the swashbuckling sea life and recast them aboard trains.

The protagonist is a classic type of the genre -- an orphaned teenage boy on his first voyage, here aboard a "Moler" (a train that hunts giant moles and brings their meat back to market) as a doctor's assistant. We see this strange world through his young eyes, and goggle in astonishment at the strange sights. What he finds at an old crash site leads him to two other teens and stories of what lies at the end of the world. Thus, a classic race and chase unfolds, with various players seeking untold riches just over the horizon.

The monsters are fearsome, the humans are interesting, the world is rich, there's not much not to like, except, perhaps the ending. It felt a little underwhelming to me, after all that came before, but that could have just been my own high expectations. It's a world I'd be keen to return to for more stories.
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Railsea by China Miéville (Hardcover - May 15, 2012)
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