Book of the Week: Railsea by China Miéville

Railsea by China Miéville is our new Book of the Week.


Master imaginist China Miéville has returned with another genre-bending spectacle in Railsea - a mind-boggling adventure story which takes the classical bones of Moby Dick and transforms it into a roaring creature of the new weird.

Fans of Miéville will be more than familiar with his uncanny conceptual ability to shape fabulous worlds. The railsea of the title refers to the network of train tracks that loop and turn across the surface of the earth, elevated from the massive beasts the lurk below (meat-eating earwigs, behemoth insects, carnivorous rabits et al).

The young hero of the novel, Sham ap Soorap, belongs to a train crew of ‘mole hunters’ - a team which scours the railsea in search of giant moles or ‘moldywarpes’. The captain of Sham’s train is obsessed with finding and harpooning the elusive white mole that robbed her of her arm years ago (Call me Ishmael anyone?). Yet deep down, Sham quests for something more. Through a mix of chance and searching, he finds himself on a journey that will take him to the edge of the railsea itself.

From NPR:

‘*Railsea* is, frankly, a book full of Moby-Dick jokes. But Railsea does not ever feel like satire, nor like a simple homage from Mieville to Melville: Instead, it feels like a great adventure, meant for girls and boys, as well as for the grown-up readers of science fiction and fantasy who admire the complicated worlds Mieville built for such adult novels as Perdido Street Station and Embassytown.’

Railsea is out now in paperback ($24.95) and ebook ($16.99). Read the first five chapters here.

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