The City & The City

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When Inspector Borlu tells a joke about the weather in the other city being worse, everyone knows it's a joke, but they can't treat it that way. I thought the moment was funny, but it was also revealing of the way the world is constructed. This world becomes more complicated when it's suggested that Orsini a third city might also share the same space as Beszel and Ul Qoma.

This was my time reading China Mieville's work, but I plan to read more! View all 5 comments. Aug 13, BlackOxford rated it it was amazing Shelves: favourites , fantasy-horror , british , sci-fi. The premise of the book is that the City in question is divided in two by a sort of psychological Iron Curtain, sometimes at the level of individual dwellings.

The two parts of the City intertwine physically, but the residents of each half are not permitted to see, hear, smell, touch, or otherwise interact with the residents of the other half. Each population is restricted to its designated spaces in which everyone lives apparently normal lives but with no awareness of the others who live among them. Residents from each half may visit the other half by transferring through a sort of border tunnel in the middle of the City.

Having crossed from one half to the other, the visitor is required to participate fully in its life. Any lapse in this protocol is considered a Breach and is dealt with harshly as a matter of law. My first reading resulted in an interpretation of the City as wallowing in an unfortunate fate, implicitly waiting and hoping for some sort of redemptive unification of the City.

The separation of the two parts of the City was the result of an obscure historical act equivalent to Original Sin. This alternative explanation is based on some rather interesting observations on aesthetics, the study of choosing the filters by which we allow ourselves to perceive the world. Each world in fact helps to make the other visible. The unique social conventions, mores, architecture, literature, cuisine, and routines of one can never be taken entirely for granted because there is another set of these cultural conditions, literally just around the corner.

View all 20 comments. Mar 12, Brad rated it it was amazing Shelves: weird , urban-fantasy , speculative , sci-fantasy , fantasy. It is because while The City and The City is both of those things, it is also -- and more powerfully -- a love letter to his fans and an act of oeuvre snobbery of the first order.

The unseen and the uncity occur throughout his work in varying forms, but they come together in The City and The City with an intensity and concreteness that he has only flirted with before.

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Each have their own reasons for moving unseen and their own methods for achieving it, but all of them move in and through the spaces that others cannot see or fail to see or choose not to see. But the murder mystery, and even the potential conspiracies that swirl around the murder, are nowhere near as important as the way these two cities crosshatch and overlay and grosstopic, and the way people from the mundane to the Breach move through and around and in and outside all the permutations of these places in one place.

In Un-Lun-Dun it is an ab-city for every city. Too bad Orson Welles wasn't still alive.

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The City and The City would be right up his dissensi. View all 32 comments. Feb 23, Philip rated it it was amazing Shelves: fantasy , mystery , sci-fi , classic , urban-fantasy , male-author , hugo. This is a simple, classic noir detective story.

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Except it's anything but a simple, classic noir detective story. The story at the heart of the novel isn't really out of the ordinary. But the way it takes place is bonkers. The setting of the book is in two separate cities existing within the same geographical "grosstopical" area. How is that possible?

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It's honestly pretty hard to figure out at first. There's very little exposition; we're thrown into this world, having it explained 4.

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There's very little exposition; we're thrown into this world, having it explained in bits and pieces through the eyes of our narrator. Mieville gives us an absolutely brilliant interpretation of segregation, cultural differences, political influence, governmental authority etc. Is the world ridiculously stupid or immediately believable? We're left with lots of questions to ponder and discuss which is just as much fun as reading.

I didn't find the characters or the dialogue particularly fascinating but that doesn't even matter. The true main characters of the story are the Cities themselves and they shine.

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View all 22 comments. However, I will share my motive for quitting. The writing was too difficult. I thought is was only because my English is not my first language although i don't usually have problems but i read complains by native speakers so The struggle to understand what the author was trying to say, the weird choice of words and phrase construction made me detached from the plot and the characters. I did not care about anything except the slow increase in the read percentage. I told myself that i will not struggle anymore with books that i do not enjoy so On to the next ones.

View all 24 comments. And there's a dead girl. I enjoyed the concept, the wordplay, and the impossibility of categorisation: it's a detective story, with strong political themes, but it's set in a world that is not exactly dystopian or futuristic or fantastic - but it isn't quite realistic either. The Cities The title relates to " There's a series of random and implausible crises that make no sense other than if you believe the most dramatic possible shit.

Instead, the separation is psychological and sensorial: citizens of each learn to unsee, unhear and even unsmell anything from the other city.

The City & the City

If they don't, they "breach", and thereby invoke the vague but terrifying wrath of Breach. There is also the mythical, secret, taboo city of Orciny, which some believe is "between the city and the city". For those who have to visit the other city, things are even stranger. It is this brilliantly weird central premise that makes the book so good.

We surveyed 34,000 city-dwellers to rank the best cities in the world right now. Ready?

If you don't know about it when you start reading it, the clues are gradually built up, but knowing it, as I did, didn't spoil my enjoyment. Ultimately, the division is maintained by consent, like the Emperor's New Clothes: "It's not just us keeping them apart. Differences Between the Cities I didn't get hung up on which real world cities might have inspired this I doubt there would be a simple answer.

However, I was interested in the ways in which they apparently differed, the "intense learning of cues" required of all children and the few tourists. As a reader, one has to learn these cues very gradually.

Even half way through I didn't have a very clear picture of the different appearance, culture or politics, other than that view spoiler [UQ was somewhat richer, more technologically advanced and with better archaeological sites hide spoiler ]. Their languages use different alphabets and it is heretical to say they are the same, and yet they are mutually intelligible. Murder Mystery and Themes This situation creates a variety of intriguing and sometimes amusing complications and paradoxes which hamper police operations.

The impetus of the story is the discovery and subsequent investigation of a woman's body, and uncertainty about which domain the crime occurred in, compounded by the fact she's not a resident of either city, but is American. There are disputed zones - shades of Rumsfeld's "known unknowns" and even when authority is agreed, the normal difficulties of solving a crime are compounded by the complexity of the two cities.

There are even "Places that no one can see because they think they're in the other city". Chasing criminals without breaching is comical, but crucial. The chapters are mostly short and punchy, and each ends with a revelation or cliff-hanger or both. Yet it doesn't feel hackneyed, perhaps because the setting is so startlingly original.

At times he explicitly defines them when context and etymology make that unnecessary e. As in The Scar, there are a few awkward or ugly sentences that I had to reread, but far fewer. A couple of examples for my own reference more than anything else : "He came to UQ, from where he went to B, managed I do not know how to go between the two of them - legally I assure you - several times, and he claimed I think my only quibble with the story-telling is the quantity of rushed explanation and exposition towards the end, rather as Goldfinger or another James Bond baddie would do.

Her face was set in a startled strain. She was endlessly surprised by herself. The local buildings are taller Architecture sprayed. Their faces were without anything approaching expressions. They looked like people-shaped clay in the moments before God breathed out. That gait This second foray into his works was far more rewarding, and my third, Embassytown , was even more so there are some interesting parallels, too, which I've outlined in my review HERE.

Neither is typical of the author's works, but both are noirish detective thrillers, featuring archaeologists and set in two versions of a city, albeit a very different sort of separation. Reading one enhances enjoyment of the other. I'm relieved and impressed. From the start, there's much more explanation of the cities' unique setup, but that's probably necessary for the change of medium. The look of it, especially.