Saturday, 15 August 2009

The patter of tiny feet [Review: King Rat]

The first of China Mieville's novels, King Rat, is set in more or less present-day London, although the grime and muck is described just as colourfully as in later novels such as Perdido Street Station. The plot takes the hero, Saul, on a free-running tour of the rooftops and sewers of London in the company of his new-found uncle, the titular humanoid rat, and his bird and spider analogues as they fight for survival against their nemesis who is eventually unmasked as a familiar mythical figure. The book also explores club culture, particularly the jungle scene, and jungle music proves central to the final showdown.

This is a good book and within it you can see the beginnings of Mieville's later masterstrokes - familiar environments in London are seen from new angles and rendered threatening, while other imaginary or fantastic locations are brought to life and made familiar; whilst the origins of Mieville's fantasy characters are made clear at the end, they remain original and captivating creations. Saul is a little more shaky in the beginning - there are lots of reasons he might have decided to distrust the authorities and go on the run following his father's mysterious death, but his motivation at this point seems too vague. Saul's rat-like tough-guy character is gradually fleshed out as he learns to free-run and survive and uncovers his own past.


Kaori said...

Scifi seems really interesting.. I've actually only started reading a lot very recently. I'll look into sci-fi next time I visit the bookstore!

Sci-Fi Gene said...

Good luck and let me know of any good (or bad) finds.