Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Giraffe terror comes to London [Review: Un Lun Dun]

This China Mieville novel is written for the teenage or YA reader however can be enjoyed at any age. The scenario, in which two friends are transported magically into an alternative version of London where all the rubbish goes, is reminiscent of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere although, unfettered by Underground station puns, Mieville's fantasy seems a little fresher.

The book sends up many fantasy cliches - the "chosen one" Zanna is incapacitated early leaving her ordinary, prophecy-free friend Deeba to save the day. In doing so Deeba is tasked with a chain of thirteen magical-object quests - but refreshingly decides to jump straight to the last one. The inhabitants of UnLunDun are utterly ridiculous (martial arts dustbins, animate umbrellas etc.) but still manage to be both engaging and threatening at times, and the Smog as an evil entity works well even though the anti-pollution message is perhaps a little too obvious. Finally Mieville proves with this novel that he clearly understands the true terror of the giraffe - I'm now keeping my second-storey windows firmly closed at night.


Tom Slatter said...

This sounds fun, I shall have to buy.

I'm currently reading 'Iron Council', and I've read other Mieville books in the past. He seems to combine elements of traditional fantasy with surrealists and satirists like Lewis Carrol and Swift's Gulliver's Travels.

His language can be a little difficult at times, and not always natural. But on the whole I enjoy his stuff.

Sci-Fi Gene said...

I enjoyed Iron Council too, particularly the way the golem legend is used: and with all the Bas-Lag books there 's a real melting pot of ideas and genres as well as characters - magical fantasy, high seas, steampunk, Western (well, there are cactuses), etc.