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The Last Days of New Paris

by China Miéville

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9124123,279 (3.46)42
"A thriller of war that never was--of survival in an impossible city--of surreal cataclysm. In The Last Days of New Paris, China Mieville entwines true historical events and people with his daring, uniquely imaginative brand of fiction, reconfiguring history and art into something new. "Beauty will be convulsive." 1941. In the chaos of wartime Marseille, American engineer--and occult disciple--Jack Parsons stumbles onto a clandestine anti-Nazi group, including Surrealist theorist Andre Breton. In the strange games of the dissident diplomats, exiled revolutionaries, and avant-garde artists, Parsons finds and channels hope. But what he unwittingly unleashes is the power of dreams and nightmares, changing the war and the world forever. 1950. A lone Surrealist fighter, Thibaut, walks a new, hallucinogenic Paris, where Nazis and the Resistance are trapped in unending conflict, and the streets are stalked by living images and texts--and by the forces of Hell. To escape the city, he must join forces with Sam, an American photographer intent on recording the ruins, and make common cause with a powerful, enigmatic figure of chance and rebellion: the exquisite corpse. But Sam is being hunted. And new secrets will emerge that will test all their loyalties--to each other, to Paris old and new, and to reality itself. Praise for China Mieville "[Mieville's] wit dazzles, his humour is lively, and the pure vitality of his imagination is astonishing."--Ursula K. Le Guin, The Guardian, on Three Moments of an Explosion "Dark and thought-provoking."--The San Diego Union-Tribune, on The City & The City "Richly conceived."--The New York Times Book Review, on Embassytown "Mieville more than delivers."--San Francisco Chronicle, on Kraken "Compulsively readable."--The Washington Post Book World, on Perdido Street Station"-- "From the bestselling and award-winning master of sci fi, fantasy, and speculative fiction: a Surrealist bomb transfigures war-torn Paris into a phantasmagoric dreamscape, unleashing a race of nightmarish creatures"--… (more)
  1. 00
    Pirate Utopia by Bruce Sterling (Soukesian)
    Soukesian: These make coincidental companion pieces on art and (alternative) history.
  2. 00
    Exquisite Corpse by Robert Irwin (paradoxosalpha)
    paradoxosalpha: Intrigue among Surrealists.
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» See also 42 mentions

English (40)  French (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
I get that this is supposed to be weird. I get (some of) what the Surrealists were trying to do and the context in which they were thinking. I even kinda get the origins of this novella after reading the explanation after finishing it. It still didn't really capture me. Sure, it's fun and weird to think about this alternate history, but I couldn't really let myself float into it and allow subconscious reaction. I even tried when I couldn't relax into it, which didn't exactly help. Instead, the constant name-dropping and switches in timeline forced a constant running critic, attempting to keep track and think about whether I should have known about someone. Ultimately, an interesting piece, but only okay. ( )
  Zedseayou | Jan 30, 2024 |
I hate this book.

(It should always be remembered that I am a nobody who knows nothing who believes enjoying things is better than hating on them, so if you like this, I love that for you, and this is all just some random gal's opinion.)

After Reading References:
(This is a fantastic article with images and links: https://medium.com/@Nicky_Martin/graphic-annotations-of-china-mi%C3%A9villes-the...

I'm frankly exhausted and almost too tired to hold the elation I have for never having to touch this book again after I return it to the library tomorrow, but I am finally completely finished!

I've gone beyond apoplexy into critical parent disappointment because Miéville shows how dedicated their research into Surrealist works and alludes to interesting ideas they left out of the book.

After Reading Author's Note:

I genuinely thought reading the author's note would make me feel guilty for how much I hated this book and display Miéville's adoration and dedication to Surrealism, but this was not the case.

There's an aside about him being interested, but not an expert in Surrealism, and then a very bizarre anecdote that I will not share because I think it is technically a spoiler, but I will say that I don't believe it for a second, at least the vast majority of it, which may very well be the point. It is by far the best piece of writing in the book and has the most feeling a surreality too.

It also feels like a poor excuse for why this book sucks so very much and only made me more angry and disappointed with the decisions made in the writing of this book. If any of the note is real and he believes what he claims, it only makes how bad this book is so much worse and even more disrespectful.

It's entirely unfair of me, but I actually feel annoyed at Miéville for not humanising themself or making me feel bad about my utter abhorrence of this book.

Intial Reaction:

[I am writing this initial review before reading the author's note and references and plan to follow up once I have read them]

I am too tired and lost in nihilistic rage to give this the proper rant review it deserves and I need for catharsis, but I think I can safely say that, while I have read and abandoned many other books that were actually problematic and harmful, to me, personally, this is the most offensive thing I have read this year and my frustration and confusion are only exceeded by my anger and despair.

Imho this is just a crap fantasy story I would expect from a 90s game tie-in, like the early Magic: The Gathering, D&D, or Warhammer with surrealist, Paris, and Nazi aesthetics. I wouldn't enjoy this if it was set in Pyrexia, Sigil, Zharr-Naggrund, or Commorragh (like Miéville, I can flex references, as a treat), so why should I care when it is a toothless portrayal of the Nazis in Paris with the veneer and refernces to surrealism seemingly without any actual engagement or understanding of the motivations and aspirations of the movement.

I cannot fathom a conscious point beyond the surface level and this doesn't seem to be an exercise in unconscious expression in the Surrealist tradition, so I'm utterly perplexed.

Everything I know about Miéville and their other books, and the deep knowledge and reverence on display here only leave me more baffled as to why this book is as seemingly vacuous as it is.

No offence to Miéville and no disrespect to anyone who likes this book, but fucking hate it and it is by far my least favourite read of 2023. ( )
  RatGrrrl | Dec 27, 2023 |
I liked this, but felt that it asked a bit much of it's audience. Evocative as heck, but a little too weird to be properly enjoyable. ( )
  ropable | Aug 20, 2023 |
Miéville is so hit-and-miss sometimes - other books by him just flow off the page, but this was really difficult to read, like wading through treacle.

A lot of the images were great, of course, but so absurd that I had trouble imagining everything sometimes. A couple of weeks after the fact, I'm having trouble trying to think what actually happened during the story.

Then there's this weird coda where the author explains how a weird-looking old French guy had told him the story, that he's just transcribed into the book. I'm totally not sure what to make of that. ( )
  finlaaaay | Aug 1, 2023 |
Hard to follow at times, some of this is me not being familiar w/surrealism & not realizing what’s important to the story, I liked the concept of this different universe ( )
  jimifenway | Feb 14, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
China Miévilleprimary authorall editionscalculated
Fliedner, AndreasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
s.BENešCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
« L'art surréaliste suscite toutes sortes de réactions, mais la plus pathétique entre toutes est celle qui consiste à demander ce qu'on est censé voir ou éprouver devant l'œuvre – autrement dit "Papa veut qu'on ressente quoi face à ça ?". »

Grace Pailthorpe, On the Importance of Fantasy Life
Dedication
To Rupa
First words
1950
A street in lamplight. Beyond a wall of ripped-up city, the Nazis were shooting.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"A thriller of war that never was--of survival in an impossible city--of surreal cataclysm. In The Last Days of New Paris, China Mieville entwines true historical events and people with his daring, uniquely imaginative brand of fiction, reconfiguring history and art into something new. "Beauty will be convulsive." 1941. In the chaos of wartime Marseille, American engineer--and occult disciple--Jack Parsons stumbles onto a clandestine anti-Nazi group, including Surrealist theorist Andre Breton. In the strange games of the dissident diplomats, exiled revolutionaries, and avant-garde artists, Parsons finds and channels hope. But what he unwittingly unleashes is the power of dreams and nightmares, changing the war and the world forever. 1950. A lone Surrealist fighter, Thibaut, walks a new, hallucinogenic Paris, where Nazis and the Resistance are trapped in unending conflict, and the streets are stalked by living images and texts--and by the forces of Hell. To escape the city, he must join forces with Sam, an American photographer intent on recording the ruins, and make common cause with a powerful, enigmatic figure of chance and rebellion: the exquisite corpse. But Sam is being hunted. And new secrets will emerge that will test all their loyalties--to each other, to Paris old and new, and to reality itself. Praise for China Mieville "[Mieville's] wit dazzles, his humour is lively, and the pure vitality of his imagination is astonishing."--Ursula K. Le Guin, The Guardian, on Three Moments of an Explosion "Dark and thought-provoking."--The San Diego Union-Tribune, on The City & The City "Richly conceived."--The New York Times Book Review, on Embassytown "Mieville more than delivers."--San Francisco Chronicle, on Kraken "Compulsively readable."--The Washington Post Book World, on Perdido Street Station"-- "From the bestselling and award-winning master of sci fi, fantasy, and speculative fiction: a Surrealist bomb transfigures war-torn Paris into a phantasmagoric dreamscape, unleashing a race of nightmarish creatures"--

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