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Railsea [Hardcover]

China Mieville
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
RRP: £17.99
Price: £12.23 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

24 May 2012
On board the moletrain Medes, Sham Yes ap Soorap watches in awe as he witnesses his first moldywarpe hunt. The giant mole bursting from the earth, the harpoonists targeting their prey, the battle resulting in one’s death and the other’s glory are extraordinary. But no matter how spectacular it is, travelling the endless rails of the railsea, Sham can't shake the sense that there is more to life. Even if his philosophy-seeking captain can think only of the hunt for the ivory-coloured mole she’s been chasing – ever since it took her arm all those years ago. When they come across a wrecked train, at first it's a welcome distraction. But the impossible salvage Sham finds in the derelict leads to considerably more than he'd bargained for. Soon he's hunted on all sides: by pirates, trainsfolk, monsters and salvage-scrabblers. And it might not be just Sham's life that's about to change. It could be the whole of the railsea. Praise for China Miéville: ‘Fiction of the new century’ Neil Gaiman ‘Miéville’s work is thrillingly imaginative … immensely witty and utterly unforgettable’ Scotland on Sunday ‘One of the most imaginative young writers around in any kind of fiction’ Guardian ‘Miéville’s imagined societies may be fantastic, but they are utterly coherent . . . wonderfully infectious’ Daily Telegraph

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; First Edition, First Impression edition (24 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230765106
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230765108
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 207,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

China Miéville lives and works in London. He is three-time winner of the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award (Perdido Street Station, Iron Council and The City & The City) and has also won the British Fantasy Award twice (Perdido Street Station and The Scar). The City & The City, an existential thriller, was published in 2009 to dazzling critical acclaim and drew comparison with the works of Kafka and Orwell (The Times) and Philip K. Dick (Guardian).

Product Description

Review

"'Fiction of the new century' Neil Gaiman 'Mieville's work is thrillingly imaginative... immensely witty and utterly unforgettable' Scotland on Sunday 'One of the most imaginative young writers around in any kind of fiction' Guardian 'Mieville's imagined societies may be fantastic, but they are utterly coherent... wonderfully infectious' " --Daily Telegraph

'China Miéville's powerful adventure is a delight... What kind of novel might someone produce if he had been influenced by writers such as Joan Aiken, the Awdrys, Daniel Defoe, Ursula Le Guin, Herman Melville, Robert Louis Stevenson, the Strugatsky Brothers and Spike Milligan? The answer is Railsea, China Miéville's latest book, a wildly inventive crossover/young adult fantasy with elements of SF and trains, lots of trains, all done with the kind of brio of which most writers can only dream... Yet for all this, the book's chief glory is its prose. Every sentence is packed with wit, strange but appropriate neologisms, and jostling clusters of consonants that are there for no other reason than sheer delight in language...Once I'd tuned into the rhythm, it wasn't long before I was happy to let the story rattle along on its rails with me clinging desperately to the caboose.' --Guardian

'Through his young protagonist's eyes, Miéville presents a future world that is wondrous and believable in equal measures, while never easing the pace of a runaway train ride of a novel.' --Independent on Sunday

'The plot is typically adventuresome, especially as the book is aimed at the young adult audience, but it has pleasures for the adult reader as well. The extended witty deconstruction of Moby-Dick is probably the funniest thing Miéville has ever written.'
--The Scotsman

"'Fiction of the new century' Neil Gaiman 'Mieville's work is thrillingly imaginative... immensely witty and utterly unforgettable' Scotland on Sunday 'One of the most imaginative young writers around in any kind of fiction' Guardian 'Mieville's imagined societies may be fantastic, but they are utterly coherent... wonderfully infectious' --Daily Telegraph

'At heart it is a gripping adventure yarn in the mould of Kidnapped, Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe, with a lively mix of reversals of fortune, break-neck escapes, narrow scrapes and even an abnormally intelligent animal sidekick' --Financial Times

'This is an exuberantly imagined new-weird novel which offers a mash-up of Moby Dick and steampunk. Ostensibly written for the young-adult market, it s clever, playful and bizarre enough to satisfy the many not-so-young adult fans of the extraordinary China Mieville.' --Daily Mail

About the Author

China Miéville lives and works in London. He is three-time winner of the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award and has also won the British Fantasy Award twice. The City & The City, an existential thriller, was published to dazzling critical acclaim and drew comparison with the works of Kafka and Orwell and Philip K. Dick. His previous novel, Embassytown, was a widely-praised foray into science fiction (HB: 2011; PB: Jan 2012).

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic seafaring tale set on land 27 Feb 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Another great book from Miéville, this is a fantastic starting point if you haven't read him before. In a world covered in rails, where if you touch the bare earth you're likely to be devoured, a young man named Sham Yes ap Soorap goes on his first mouldywarp hunt. Borrowing from moby dick, treasure island and others, this is a book I devoured so fast and felt sad when I'd finished because the characters are so well written you'll know you'll miss them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This is the second of Miéville's books that I've read. The first was the uneven and clunky 'Perrido Street Station' which I enjoyed until half way through, when it got tiring. It has to be said that 'Railsea's length is a significant saving grace! At just under 400 pages, it suffered not nearly as much from the plodding podge of 'Perrido'!

The story is essentially a reworking of 'Moby Dick', set in another of Miéville's fantastically imagined 'worlds'. This time round we have a world devoid of oceans, replaced instead with endless expanses of bare soil crisscrossed with rail-track. Trains are the substitute ocean liners, and gargantuan earth-shovelling moles are just a few of the substitute-whales/generic sea life etc. Put simply, this a great environment in which to set a novel. Miéville has clearly thought a great deal about how such a world works. The reader is consistently provided new tipbits of detail, almost all of it being downright awesome. While levels of realism are thrown out the window, you'll be treated to an almost decadent treat of steam-punky fare, complete with some rather horrific monsters.

There are a few negative aspects to the novel, however. For one, Miéville has adopted a particular style with which to tell his story. It's somewhat stilted, and takes getting used to. The off shot is a rather cold, clinical narrative-style. I didn't really mind it, but will say it lessens the effectiveness of a few events. For instance, it becomes hard to turn a fight scene into something exciting. The story is fairly fast-paced, but there wasn't much urgency to it. Though things happened one after another, it was hard to feel fully envolved in the action. This was a shame, as the actual events would make for some out of this world cinema.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterful Imagination at Work 12 Feb 2014
By A. Ross TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format: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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Training the Imagination 30 Sep 2012
By John M. Ford TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
Railsea is a "big idea" book. This is not unusual for China Miéville. This book does the same thing for trains that Embassytown does for language. It expands the idea of rail-traveling trains in new directions, stretching our understanding while remaining faithful to their basic nature. The author has covered some of this ground before. In Iron Council he showed what might happen when a train's crew strikes out on their own, removing the tracks behind them and building a new route ahead. Railsea takes things a bit further.

Readers explore a world in which, unsurprisingly, train tracks cover most of the surface much like our ocean covers everything below... well, sea level. Some rocky islands are free of rails and of the poisoned soil beneath them. On these islands are the world's ports and cities. A variety of trains traverse the sea of rails. Some perform tasks similar to our familiar ocean-going ships: trade, exploration, "naval" military engagement, and even piracy. Others have stranger missions. There are trains that hunt the dangerous animals that burrow rapidly though the toxic soil. And there are the mysterious Angels that repair the rails for reasons of their own.

The railsea itself is such a well-crafted integration of the familiar and fantastic that it easily steals the reader's attention from the book's human characters. The characters' actions are interesting, but seem incidental compared to the continuing flow of new information about the railsea. It is enough to know that a young doctor's apprentice on a train that hunts giant moles finds pictures taken by a lost expedition.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sense of Wonder
I've had trouble getting properly immersed into books lately, and this one helped me rediscover the magic. I feel like I'm a child again. The joy of invention is remarkable.
Published 16 days ago by William Piovano
4.0 out of 5 stars Mieville on form
Really imaginative work again from Mieville, with nods to Melville, and many others too. A really good read, even if I thought that Embassytown was better.
Published 5 months ago by Prof L. S. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
This hardback version of Railsea is fantastic. The story is a prime example of the type of fantasy Mieville writes. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mary Ann McAlinden
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent tale wonderfully told
A beautifully written book brimming with ideas and wonder. Billed as a YA book but so well written and full of ideas I suspect as many adults (such as myself) will enjoy every... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mark C
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking and entertaining steampunk
Fantastic novel by one of my favourite authors. The book has a fascinating post-apocalyptic steampunk premise and a range of literary references and resonances with Melville's... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Fitz
4.0 out of 5 stars A return to form
After the poor Kraken and the mediocre Embassytown, China Mieville returns to form in a story with great depth, and scope. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Blig78
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful as always
beautifully written, story pulls you along, only put it down so i could save it for later! buy this book :-)
Published 8 months ago by R. Casbon
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story, something fresh to the genre
Super story, need to stick with the first 50 pages to get over the culture shock and the way its written. Great pace and original thinking.
Published 8 months ago by Reader-on-the-Exe
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
For me this book was a return to the China Mieville I know and love. He's one of my favourite authors but Kraken didn't quite hit the mark for me and I actually ended up hating... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Paul Blackburn
5.0 out of 5 stars Return to form
Not much else to say other than that this is Mieville back to his best. If you're a fan of his and were disappointed by Kraken (yes, I know that's all of us), then this is the one... Read more
Published 9 months ago by elephvant
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