Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Here’s a fascinating choice for a 4-part BBC miniseries —

According to GalleyCat, the BBC is going to make a four-part miniseries out of . . . China Mieville’s THE CITY AND THE CITY.

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Pause to imagine that. A TV series. Of THE CITY AND THE CITY.

Remember how it was never actually one hundred percent clear just how the two cities coexisted? Remember how the city of Beszel had a kind of decaying urban Eastern European feel to it, compared to the much more prosperous and vibrant Ul Qoma? And how not seeing one or the other was kind of an act of will and yet seems sort of like a real thing, somehow?

That is what I mean when I occasionally say this book almost-but-not-quite worked for me. I could never quite get how the cities were really related, or not related, or blended, or not blended, or whatever. There was all this really seeing vs unseeing vs choosing not to see and it was all very evocative without ever actually being clear.

But I really enjoyed the book, though. I loved Tyador BorlĂș of the Extreme Crime Squad, and come to think of it I was pretty fond of many of the other characters, too. I loved the strange setting even if — maybe a little bit because — I never actually understood it. And I enjoyed the mystery/thriller vibe very much, and liked the plot arc and the resolution.

So I hope the BBC version is fantastic. I can’t wait to see it.

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2 Comments Here’s a fascinating choice for a 4-part BBC miniseries —

  1. Robert Massey

    I might have to watch that just to see how well they pull it off.

    Have you read Mieville’s Embassytown?

  2. Rachel

    Yes, I have, and I thought it was . . . peculiar, and an ambitious effort to pull off something unique, which certainly seems characteristic of Mieville. Once again, it almost-but-not-quite worked for me. I didn’t like it as well as The City and The City, but a murder mystery with a protagonist like Tyodor was always likely to have greater personal appeal for me. I don’t believe I liked any character as well in Embassytown, nor did I quite believe in how things worked out.

    On the other hand, I kind of think I did put Embassytown first on the Hugo ballet that year — above Among Others. Not absolutely sure I lined them up that way, but I think so. That was a strong year, imo, with three novels I could have been happy to put first (The other was Leviathan Wakes) and a particularly strong novella lineup as well.

    Mieville is one of the authors whom I think deserves to appear on award ballots over and over. He’s not only a great writer, he’s also always striving to write these unique, ambitious works — I can see that people who want the awards to be more about popular appeal and prefer a story that is approachable and less literary might not approve, but I do, even though for me he doesn’t generally seem to quiiiite pull off what he’s attempting. I mean, that’ll happen if you attempt the impossible.

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