The Blog's Mission

Wikipedia defines a book review as: “a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. A book review can be a primary source opinion piece, summary review or scholarly review”. My mission is to provide the reader with my thoughts on the author’s work whether it’s good, bad, or ugly. I read all genres of books, so some of the reviews may be on hard to find books, or currently out of print. All of my reviews will also be available on I will write a comment section at the end of each review to provide the reader with some little known facts about the author, or the subject of the book. Every now and then, I’ve had an author email me concerning the reading and reviewing of their work. If an author wants to contact me, you can email me at I would be glad to read, review and comment on any nascent, or experienced writer’s books. If warranted, I like to add a little comedy to accent my reviews, so enjoy!
Thanks, Rick O.

Friday, October 26, 2012


In 1851 Herman Melville published Moby Dick, and in 2012 China Mieville published the remake. Well, sort of. Actually, the only thing in common is the closeness of the authors' surnames. Let's see...We have Melville's whale ship, the Pequod and Mieville's mole train, the Medes. Not quite the same. Then we have Melville's Ishmael and Queequeg, and Mieville's Sham and Benightly. Still no match. What about the captains? The Pequod has Captain Ahab, the Medes has Captain Naphi, but no match because Naphi is a female and has a prosthetic arm, not a leg. Well, kind of. The "weird fiction" writer has written his best book to date. I truthfully understood his entire novel! Not that Mieville didn't use neologisms or seldom used diction, but after reading three of his previous novels, I finally got my mojo in sync with his style. The fourth book was the charm.

We have at least three concurrent plots. Captain Naphi has a philosophy going against the great giant ivory mole, Mocker-Jack. She chases him from rail to rail as he burst out of the ground from time to time and avoids her harpoons. Sham, aka Shamus Yes ap Soorap, is an apprentice doctor aboard her moler train. Oh, I forgot to tell you that this all happens in good old dirt, not water. Anyway during his first voyage, Sham meets the Shroake siblings, Dero and Caldera, who have lost their parents and have a philosophy of their own...they want to find out what their parents saw in the railsea before they were killed. In the meantime, Sham is kidnapped by train pirates that are following the Shroake siblings, thinking there is treasure to be found and surely Sham must know where since he is a friend of the Shroakes. Also involved in the chase are the Manihiki City Naval trains and the god That Apt Ohm's terrible angel trains. Harassing all the trains are giant burrowing ferrets, owls, earthworms, bees, rabbits and beetles to name a few! The only good creature in the novel is Sham's befriended daybat known as Daybe. I was actually rooting for the daybat through out the novel. Well done Mr. Mieville. I had empathy for one of your creations.

As the novel progresses, all the trains converge in the far reaches of the railsea for a final conflict. The last hundred pages or so are super exciting. This is by far Mieville's best effort. How he came up with all the eruchthonous (his word, not mine) animals is amazing. Can you imagine a world (he doesn't tell us where) where the population depends on moles for their meat, furs, and oils for their daily sustenance? I found this novel to be imaginative and enjoyable. Mr. Mieville still uses words that are archaic or made-up, but the reader gets used to them the same way we got used to listening to debates by William F. Buckley, Jr. I mean when is the last time you heard: offterran, ferronaval, or taxonomise? That's pure China Mieville. In my opinion this book could become a fantasy classic. It's that good.

RATING: 5 out of 5 stars

Comment: Moby Dick and Railsea both have captains with destructive obsession traits. Both novels also feature a final confrontation between man and beast. The 1850s are considered golden years in American literature since the following works were also published: Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, Henry David Thoreau's Walden, and Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.

No comments:

Post a Comment