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Railsea by China Mieville
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Railsea (original 2012; edition 2013)

by China Mieville

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1,356869,603 (3.85)126
"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 & the other's glory. But no matter how spectacular it is, Sham can't shake the sense that there is more to life than traveling the endless rails of the railsea--even if his captain can think only of the hunt for the ivory-colored mole she's been chasing since it took her arm all those years ago. When they come across a wrecked train, at first it's a welcome distraction. But what Sham finds in the derelict--a kind of treasure map indicating a mythical place untouched by iron rails--leads to considerably more than he'd bargained for. Soon he's hunted on all sides, by pirates, trainsfolk, monsters, & salvage-scrabblers. & it might not be just Sham's life that's about to change. It could be the whole of the railsea. Here is a novel for readers of all ages, a gripping & brilliantly imagined take on Herman Melville's Moby-Dick that confirms China Mieville's status as "the most original & talented voice to appear in several years" (Science Fiction Chronicle)"--Provided by publisher.… (more)
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Title:Railsea
Authors:China Mieville
Info:Pan (2013), Paperback, 384 pages
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Railsea by China Miéville (2012)

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» See also 126 mentions

English (85)  French (1)  All languages (86)
Showing 1-5 of 85 (next | show all)
There's truly a lot to enjoy here, especially if you're a fan of philosophy and moles.

Sometimes together. No, no, scratch that. You can't separate the philosophy from the moles.

Every captain must have a philosophy to chase after, and truly, it DOESN'T REALLY MATTER if you're missing an arm or a leg, Okay? Just trust me on this. Don't go chopping off perfectly good appendages just because some bloody mole popped out of one of the seven layered seas and ruined my perfectly happy steampunk reverie.

This is vintage Mieville, in my opinion, or at least, this is the kind of Mieville I'll always associate with Mieville. It's the unabashedly weird, the hints of some truly spectacularly interesting worldbuilding, the use of small furry creatures, and the totally meta reimagining of classics, distilled into what could almost be a children's tale of adventure, including trains on the high seas, pirates, and One Huge Goal.

(Yes, Philosophy. Most philosophy comes with a (tail) to tell, and only good philosophy has a (tale) you can hold on to.)

Hell, that's my favorite part.

Unfortunately, there's a lot less philosophy than I really wanted, and some of the (tail) drags around a bit too much, so it's not quite as cohesive as I'd like.

Otherwise, it was clever and cute and I really wanted to like it more than I actually did. Much like most of Mieville's work, actually. I take my hat off. I bow respectfully to the sheer weight of imagination and word wrangling skill.

And then I wish the shape of the whole novel had been better.

It's worth reading. I just wish I could outright love it, too. There's so much promise. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
Nice World-Building Mr. Mieville. One of the first things you'll notice about this novel is someone hit Ctrl-F Replace and switched 'and' with '&' as a prank. Other than that, this novel is perfectly readable.
I was intrigued by the imagery, piqued by the character motivations and reactions, and enthralled by the world-building. While this author's excessive use of portmanteau words may make some readers squint, I find that they add to style points. There are a lot of style points to be had, but the whole tale is essentially a gritty dream - a train dream, a moleman dream. Moles and hills and river-like rails. Trains scooting around on whirligig tracks and puffing out plentiful smoke. The parallels between this book and Moby Dick are more tongue in cheek than anything, and what I think it is all really about is the ride, the jittery lingo, the swaying of the narrative momentum, the rattling of all your precious senses, the hammering surrealism, the barely believable jests, jibes and gimcracks, the goofy galumphing fun! ( )
  LSPopovich | Apr 8, 2020 |
I think that this book will become a classic Steam-punk book in time.

Miéville has invented a world where the majority of life takes place on the Railsea, a huge swathe of criss-crossing railway lines with multiple lines intersecting, and with cities dotted throughout the plain. The landscape that the trains inhabit has a series of nasty animals that seek only to eat each other, and any human foolish enough to step on the soil. Sham is an assistant to the trains doctor on a mole hunting train, after Moldywarpes in the southern ocean. After hunting they come across a wrecked train and Sham makes a discovery in the wreckage. Lots of other people are interested in what he has discovered and he ends up being chased and kidnapped before reaching the end of the line. The captain of the train has a desire to catch the great white Moldywarpe that took her arm.

Has echoes of Moby Dick about the book. Miéville has invented a complete and plausible culture and language in the alternative world, and the plot hangs together well. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
This was pretty good very pleasant prose, interesting story and relatively fast-paced for his work. Unfortunately I just didn't like it quite as much as some of his earlier books. ( )
  livingtech | Mar 18, 2020 |
Railsea is a YA book only in the way Moby-Dick is a YA book. Miéville borrows from Melville in setting an examination of obsession, revenge and the pursuit of life's purpose in the world of a thrilling adventure story.

Set in the far future when the troposphere is poisonous, the human population of the world lives on islands and the sea is soil traversed by innumerable branching and switching and intersection railroad lines. Underneath the soil are hungry, fast, burrowing monsters, mountain-sized versions of worms and insects and rodents.

On the rails are trains of every type: diesel-powered, sail-powered, even rhino-powered. The trains are either hunters, searching for food or other products of the railsea, or they are scavengers gathering up pieces of the lost technology they don't fully understand but can make use of.

The story follows Sham, an apprentice doctor on a moletrain, commanded by Captain Naphi in her revenge hunt for the biggest beast of all, the giant southern mole named Mocker-Jack. But there are other hunts going on, too and as expected they all come crashing together at the satisfying and darkly funny end. ( )
  evano | Feb 23, 2020 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Miéville, Chinaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bauche-Eppers, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mège, NathalieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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To Indigo.
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This is the story of a bloodstained boy.
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Our minds we salvage from history's rubbish, & they are machines to make chaos into story.
Angels, unremittingly & absolutely sane, cannot but seem to poor humanity relentlessly & madly murderous.
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