London is a dangerous and demon-haunted place, at least for the characters in the dark, finely crafted tales presented in Mieville's first story collection. Mieville, who has won Arthur C. Clarke, British Science Fiction and British Fantasy awards, writes of a city besieged by exotic forms of urban decay, monsters, sadistic and ghostly children, as well as, on a lighter note, the Gay Men's Radical Singing Caucus. In the novella "The Tain," the city has been conquered by vengeful creatures who have erupted from every mirror and reflective surface. In "Details," a story with subtle connections to H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos, a young boy meets an elderly woman who has looked too deeply into the patterns that underlie the universe. In "Foundation," perhaps the most powerful story in the book, a veteran must come to terms with the horrors he helped perpetrate during the first Gulf War. Though lacking the baroque complexity and extravagance of Mieville's novels (Iron Council, etc.), these 14 stories, including one in graphic-novel form, serve as a powerful introduction to the work of one of the most important new fantasy writers of the past decade. Agent, Mic Cheetham. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
While more often found in lonely houses and deserted moors, horror can turn up in ordinary places, as these stories by critically acclaimed sf author Mieville reveal. Subways, mirrors, basements, an antique window, a day care center, a loaf of bread: all contain nasty surprises. Mieville's talent for immersing the reader in an intricately detailed world is better served in his New Crobuzon novels (e.g., The Scar; Perdido Street Station), but these 15 tales will still evoke in the reader a sense of being swallowed up by the story. Standouts include "Foundation," in which soldiers buried alive in the first Gulf War haunt a U.S. Army veteran; and "Reports of Certain Events in London," in which documents supposedly misdelivered to the author slowly reveal that some London streets may have unusual habits. Four of the stories were written for this collection, one in graphic-novel format; the others have been previously published elsewhere. Recommended for most sf collections.-Jenne Bergstrom, San Diego Cty. Lib. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-Mieville's novels mix Dickensian settings, Lovecraftian terrors, and political theory, showcasing a style uniquely his own. This collection, which brings together a number of pieces previously unavailable in the U.S., displays an even broader range of styles and interests. The weakest offerings are those based solely on the author's political ideas. "'Tis the Season," for example, is set in a futuristic London at Christmastime, and absolutely everything related to the holiday requires a license of some sort to participate. Although the story is a fun satirical read, it is not likely to be revisited. The author shows his true skill and imagination in the horror-oriented pieces. He has that rare gift of identifying those fears that flicker and lurk within the deepest recesses of our minds and dropping them down right in front of us. "The Ball Room" turns an everyday playroom in a furniture store into a haunted space of accidents, death, and mystery. "The Tain," the longest and probably strongest story, features creatures living in a parallel world who are forced to mimic us as our reflections-until they burst free of their reflective prisons and start a violent war that threatens to destroy humanity. These tales all make wonderful use of elegantly described yet terrifying scenes, lifting them a notch above the standard horror fare. Fans may grumble that only one story is set in New Crobuzon, the fantasyland featured in the novels. Despite some of its flaws, Jake is well worth seeking out.-Matthew L. Moffett, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
“Miéville moves effortlessly into the first division of those who use the tools and weapons of the fantastic to define and create the fiction of the coming century.”