Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Book Review: The Scar

The author China MieVille came to DC some time back. I'd never heard of him, but My Krodie had and convinced me to go along. China was pitching his new book "Un Lon Dun".
China MiƩville speaking at Politics and Prose.
My Krodie photographer.

While there My Krodie convinced me to pick up "The Scar". It went on the pile of books that I plan to read. I picked it up a few times and got through the first chapter or two. Then I'd put it down and read something else.

This is not an easy book to read. It's not quite as much of a struggle as Lord of the Rings or Frank Herbert's later Dune novels. This just takes some determination. That said, it is a good book.

This is like the two series I mentioned before in that the author has created a whole new world. There are human but there are also modified humans. The general level of technology is a couple hundred years behind us in many ways. But they have learned how to graft parts from other animals onto humans. You can have tentacles and gills grafted on. Machinery can be implanted but they're steam powered so you must keep your boilers stoked. There are walking talking cactus people and an island of giant mosquito people. Vampires walk the lands, but where they are not feared they live in fear. Some human looking people have blood that clots easily and use this to create armor by making strategic cuts and letting it harden on them.

The bulk of the action takes place in a unique kind of city. It's made up of ships that have been captured and pirated over many centuries. They're tied together with a series of bridges. A fleet of trading and piracy ships go out for supplies, people, and more ships. The rest of the world is unaware this city exists. It moves about by way of an armada of tugboats. Much of the story is about the leaders trying to find a way to make the city move much faster. But what that turns out to be is one of the points that is best unraveled as you read it.

Where they want to go that needs this extra power and speed is another secret that must be uncovered. But it takes up another great chunk of book.

The best thing to do with this book is adapt it into a TV show. A movie would lose way too much. It needs to be half a season (12 episodes) long to do it justice. An American budget but with British writers. Sci-Fi Channel and Sky One, just like with "Battlestar Galactica".

If you liked LotR or Dune you should take a look at this. Just get through page 50 or so before giving up.

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