Monday, March 23, 2015

Review: Railsea

Railsea by China Miéville

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a weird way, this reminded me of some of the old-school "hard" what-if sci-fi, where the author would make one leap - one wild assumption about future technology - and then try to show how the world would be made different by that one change.

Except Mieville does it with fantasy, and his one assumption is ludicrous.

The Railsea, as a concept, is great storytelling but lousy physics. There are a ton of things wrong with it and it's not worth making a list; suffice to say that a mole the size of a blue whale is not, in this universe, tunnelling through earth solid enough to lay train tracks on, at a speed sufficient to catch a train running on those tracks. What's cool is that this really doesn't ruin the story at all; it's an 18th century sailing novel, and they're just called trains for some reason, and the fact that they're trains makes it feel a bit wacky and odd which is fun. I enjoyed this world, it's characters, and their story. Just try not to think about it too much.

(It's a lovely typeface - thank you for telling me all about it's origins in the appendix. Now, never again set a book where you replace all the ands with &s; I understand the symbolism, but it's incredibly annoying to read.)

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