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Paris Kanonen--The Paris Guns (Wilhelmgeschutze) and Project Harp yI m only halfway through reading this one but hell it might the best single author short story collection I ve ever readNow I finished reading and it s official I m really not sure if I have read a FSF collection penned by a single author which would go on par with this one I liked it even than the one by Ted Chiang I read earlier thisear and that s something Surely it had its weaker points for me those were particularly Familiar Tis The Season and An End to Hunger but even these were really interesting and pleasant to read For the rest especially Looking for Jake Foundation Reports of Certain Events in London among others bravo China One of those rare occasions where I got to borrow a book from my girlfriend She has good taste but since she lives in Belgium I tend to encounter books first But this one I kept meaning to pick up and somehow didn t I wasn t sure what I thought of the idea of China Mi ville doing short stories his novels are so often so sprawling so full of gleefully grotesue imagery that I didn t think he could contain himself within a short storyHe canSome of the stories are effective than others I particularly enjoyed Reports of Certain Events in London somehow I couldn t really say why Anyway if Memoirs of Hecate County you like Mi ville s stuff these short stories are a good opportunity to see him constrain himself somewhat and write tight little stories Ifou can t seem to get a handhold with Mi ville but Three Barnyard Tales you like the idea of his work this might be it 35 stars Great to revisit New Crobuzon again Recommended for fans of Perdido Street StationMerged reviewA wonderful HPL inspired chilling storyMerged reviewMieville knocks some of these out of the park proving his talent for creating dark immersive and wildly imaginative settings like I really enjoyed half of the novels that I ve read by Mieville and rather disliked the other half Likewise in this collection of stories I enjoyed about half of them The other half were boring That is why I ve rated this book with three out of five stars Here are some brief summaries of a few of the storiesThe first story titled Looking for Jake was one of the boring stories People in London start disappearing randomly and the protagonist looks for his friend Jake There didn t seem to be much point to the story There are no explanations given for the disappearances and there was no feeling that anything happens in the story No imaginative ideas eitherThe next story titled Foundation is about a guy who can listen to the walls of a structure and hear the foundation explain whether it is structurally sound Not a very deep story pun intended but a fun story if only because it seems rather imaginativeThe Ball Room is about a room like they have at Ikea stores where oung children can play for a period of time while parents do their shopping There is a ghost in the room and the story just doesn t seem to show much imaginationJack is about a character and setting from Mieville s novel Perdido Street Station This story was my favorite probably because of my familiarity with the background This story is macabre so watch outThe Tain is a novella alternately told from the point of view of enemies a human and a I m not really sure but a weird life form from behind the mirrorsI listened to this book as an audiobook Each story was read by a different narrator Regardless of which stories I liked or dislike the readers are all superb and made the listening experience much enjoyable than it would have been otherwise In this collection China Mieville let me know very uickly that he is an author that just goes for it that trusts his skill and creative versatility to tell unusual tales Most of the time it works My favorites include The Tain Details Different Skies and The Ball Room the best one IMO A very good outing by one of weird fiction s most creative authors A mixed bag but mostly goodHighlights Looking for Jake 45 starsClassic Mieville one long letter to Jake chronicling the breakdown of London true to form it s difficult to discern of the Breakdown is in the real world or within the authorGo Between 45 starsA truly disturbing story about a man getting strange directives hidden within everyday objects he buys he ponders about the nature of the directives are they good or evil do they actually matter in the real world the insight into his and paranoid thinking is brilliantTis the season 4 Stars A story about a society where corporation has trademarked everything especially Christmas and a kind nod to the socialist movement i know is close to Mieville s heart Jack 4 Stars Any new story from New Crobyzon is welcome here We Hears The Background Story Of One Of Our Familiars hears the background story of one of our familiars Half a Prayer told by one he knew him back thenThe Tain 5 Stars A small masterpiece in Novella length following a post apocalyptic London after the images in the mirrors has rebelled and broken free Matters shuffle along pressed and steamed by the incessant heat Each piece in this collection appears climate controlled as if penned upon a sofa while listening to The Fall and waiting for delivery Korean barbecue You can recognize my resentment I wanted to read Thomas Ligotti last night to no avail Then early this morning when it was already jungle muggy outside I read a story Reports of Certain Events in London and this I was pleased by found documents amateur societies and phantom streets That "High Bar Was To Prove "bar was to prove Nothing else left me as uneasy Though there was a wonky tale one which smelled of The Destructors it s a paen to aging felt contrived though idea of a haunted stained glass was worth pondering End to Hunger is an interesting gloss on the early days of the Internet and et the pose of the anarchist activist artist is ultimately sad not tragic I ve hesitated to take the plunge into this collection for uite a while Despite loving Mi ville s novels I somehow couldn t imagine his style working as well in short story format Well his Mi villeness has proved
"Me Wrong I M Not "wrong I m not to delve into plot details in these bullet reviews because part of the fun was going into each story blindly unaware of what kind of crazy If an Elephant Went to School you d be faced with at each turn of the page Looking for Jake A chilling and ominous overture A low key atmospheric post apoc piece that set the pace for what s to come Foundation This was obviously inspired by some real world event and I was enjoying picking up on the clues that hinted at what it was based on only to find that China flat out tellsou in the acknowledgements section Very on the nose clearly China felt strongly about said event but I m not sure the short story was the best format for dealing with it The Ball Room Co written with two other people it feels like the least China of the lot A rather run of the mill spooky ghost story Good the setting is the main thing but the story is formulaic Reports of Certain Events in London An intriguing Lovecraftian tale The framing device and found text structure might look gimmicky but is really well pulled off Familiar A blend of Wicca Frankenstein and urban fantasy spiced up with a dash of Heidegger Horrible disgusting made me want to throw up several times Entry Taken from a Medical Ency. What William Gibson did for science fiction China Miéville has done for fantasy shattering old paradigms with fiercely imaginative works of startling often shocking intensity Now from this brilliant oung writer comes a groundbreaking collection of stories many of them previously.
review Looking for Jake StoriesLinux Networking Cookbook you ask me There is very much of a Chinaness about them all though ifou are a fan their style and content will be pretty comfortable If Marcus Garvey you aren t nothing here is going to suddenly turnou on to the fact that everything he writes is pretty great and oh how wrong FRIENDLY ENEMIES you have been in the past But if that s the caseou have been WrongLooking for Jake The title story is probably one of my least favorite in the collection if only because it feels so underdeveloped The hazy premise a man searches for his missing friend in a world that has undergone some unexplained remaking that has seen random people disappear in an instant and letters dropped into mailboxes delivered to everywhere or nowhere by someone or something or nothing and buildings that are vacant but not vacant is mostly an excuse to play up a paranoid atmosphere which other stories in the collection will do a lot better Sets the mood though GRADE B Foundation This one is my least favorite no probably about it Also it is easily one of the least subtle things China has written A guy can speak to the foundations of buildings which is a nice perk for a contractor though mostly they just complain about how they are miserable and dead and filled with sand Because they are the bodies of all the people dude killed in the Gulf War Something something oil It s an effectively chilling tale but too telegraphed and thusly rather unsatisfying GRADE C The Ball Room I really liked this slight but inventive ghost story co written with two others if only because it and I are simpatico on two key points those ball pits kids play in Are gross And stores like Ikea Are hell GRADE BReports of Certain Events in London An idea so China China had to make himself the narrator just so he can tell us how NEW WEIRD the whole thing is Meta China is mistakenly delivered some notes and photos intended for one Charles Melville from a secret society tracking these rogue streets that have been appearing and disappearing around London Cute idea but the fragmentary presentation left me feeling a bit baffled It won some award though so what do I know GRADE B Familiar Remember how large swaths of Perdido Street Station are just descriptions of how gross and pustule covered everything is This entire story is one big pustule A witch accidentally makes a familiar out of his own discarded flesh It evolves Grossly Later it fights with a big pile of living garbage Still can t say China doesn t make two blood muck garbage monsters fighting sound damn poetic GRADE CEntry Taken from a Medical Encyclopedia The shortest story in the book it is what the title says it is the etymology and history of a brain liuifying disease spread "by the utterance of a single word Yes the word is included but not the pronunciation So "the utterance of a single word Yes the word is included but not the pronunciation So cracking Brief but amusing snarky academic footnotes are always worth a few bonus points GRADE BDetails A contender for the finest story in the collection this one explores a oung boy s relationship with a weird neighbor who has locked herself away from the world because she s able to see the devil in the details You know literally An unusually intriguing idea effectively told and ended
"AGo Between The Exploration Of "Between The exploration of man s paranoia the narrator thinks he has been targeted to receive and send secret messages of world shattering import But he can t figure out if the message senders are on the side of the devil or the angels So he never sends their last message and drives himself crazy trying to figure out if he did the right thing or not We as readers can also posit a third option he is nuts GRADE BDifferent Skies My favorite Feels like vintage Stephen King old man buys a fancy antiue piece of glass in a consignment shop installs it in his study window and soon discovers that the view through that particular pane is now a little different It looks out onto a different sky and there are presences lurking out there taunting him Wanting in The last line gave me non hyperbolic goosebumps GRADE AAn End to Hunger You know that annoying website FreeRicecom that makes ou play a word game and awards And a Bottle of Rum you points in the form of grains of rice donated to starving third world countries Does that website makeou want to throw Crochet your internet out a window because what kind of put a bow on it feel good useless corporate bullshit fake charity is that China Mi ville agrees withou based on this story of a hacker who decides to take a similar site down It s a fun Bit Of Corporate Paranoia And If You of corporate paranoia and if Playhouse you the politics behind it just remember that it was originally published in a socialist journal soou know what ou re in for GRADE B Tis the Season Hey a funny one Christmas TM has been purchased copyrighted and licensed and don t let them catch ou with a Christmas Tree TM Tinsel TM or Wrapped Gifts TM unless Desire and Deceive you have an official license buddy So what happens when a bunch of protestors decide to take back Christmas Trenchant social commentary I bet GRADE BJack Ifou read Perdido Street Station Dannys Dragon (Tao of Love, you no doubt remember Jack Half a Prayer oh he of the late book deus ex mantis arm appearance Here s a little about where he came from and what happened to him later Ifou ve visited New Crobuzon before Household Gods you know it isn t going to be pretty I still want to know about this guy this glimpse is about the city itself its corruption and politics and the horrible way it tortures its criminals by literally remaking their bodies into representations of their crimes But so mantis arm sometimes the representations are kind of abstract OK GRADE BOn the Way to the Front A brief graphic story about hmmm Well there s this guy on a bus and Some soldiers seem to be Butou can t uite tell Is the guy dead Or wait are the soldiers Is the art supposed to be so crappy I think maybe it is something about anti war Going with anti war GRADE The Tain The longest story originally published separately as a novella by a specialty press It s late and I can t finish this right now so TO BE CONTINUED in my review of that editionLook Pretty I also tried listening to this one as an audiobook to see if it would be any clearer with a narrator explaining the images Nop. Wisted attachment and horrific revenge traces the rise and fall of the Remade Robin Hood known as Jack Half a Prayer “Familiar”–Spurned by its creator a sorceress’s familiar embarks on a strange and unsettling odyssey of self discovery in a coming of age story like no othe.