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Railsea Hardcover – 24 May 2012

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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: 15.3 x 3.4 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 178,494 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).

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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

Book Description

Venture into the Railsea - an epic journey for readers of all ages. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JC on 5 Jun. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love China Mieville and this is one of his best. OK so its supposed to be a Young Adult book and is a little like a less 'full on' version of The Scar but its all the better for that. Don 't be put off by the tag as its still a very readable adult book as well.

The base story is a straightforward rites of passage adventure, not unlike Neil Gaiman's Stardust but based on Moby Dick ( well partly anyway). There is also an element of Anime, at least that's what it feels like, in the twin adventurers that form part of the story. I can just see this story as an anime similar to Steamboy. But the real grabber is the imagination of a world, not quite like ours, with a sea made of rails and the trains that run over them. Absolutely brilliant and don't miss the side references slipped in to give a history of the rails. This is only book and only writter I know that could slip in references to Beeching, Mary Anning and the Fat Contoller whilst chasing a large yellow mole across a sea of rails.

When's the next novel coming out ?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John M. Ford TOP 500 REVIEWER on 30 Sept. 2012
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.
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This was my second China Mieville, after "The City and the City" - which I loved, but while I very much liked "Railsea", it's hard to believe it was written by the same guy. The most helpful reviews will tell you most of what you need to know. The main thing I would like to add is that if you like Neil Gaiman's novels aimed at the same market, you'll like this.
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I'm not much given to science fiction/fantasy but this got a good review in the Times. Once you're over the idea of giant moles, the description of a planet criss crossed only with rail tracks is very appealing, the plots ok and the ending frankly bonkers but I guess if you can cope with the moles, well you're half way there...
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By scratchetta on 8 Feb. 2013
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A retelling of Moby Dick, but there's far more to it than that. China Mieville produces another highly imaginative and original story with engaging characters, a gripping plot, and lots of entertaining asides... Mrs Ethel Shroake, anyone? It's a Young Adult book, but this rather elderly adult thoroughly enjoyed it.
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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 carefully crafted word and be sad to turn the final page. More please.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Gibb on 19 Feb. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
After the mess that was Kraken and the characterless drivel of Embassytown, Railsea is a much welcome return to innovative and exciting storytelling. It takes a bit to get your head around the supremely weird concept, but ultimately it does (sort of) make sense. But what really helped make the book compelling was some characters with real depth to them (again something sadly missing from recent efforts). If anything the novel feels a little rushed. There's more to Sham et al that needs telling. There could easily have been a couple of 100 more pages of their adventures, of train line politics and intrigues.
More of the same please - but knowing CM books the chances of getting anything even remotely resembling anything either he or anyone else has done before is slimmer than a railway disappearing over the horizon!
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