mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli
mordicai

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In Heaven, Everything Is Fine. (97)

Gears of the City by Felix Gilman.

All ghosts can hope for:
The War. A Beast. The Mountain.
islands in the waves.

In short, better than The Thunderer but not as good as The Half-Made World. More to the point, Thunderer suffered from having a major premise introduced two-thirds of the way through the book; here, that premise was allowed to blossom. The City at the Center of the World-- the Sigil, the Amber, the Tanelorn, the Atlantis, the Metropolis-- divorced of context, or rather thrust full into what Gilman calls the Metatext. All the time & space of an infinite city-- everything you could want, everything you might fear-- & it still comes down to the nasty, brutish thing we call life. Gears of the City doesn't quite have the worldbuilding, the throb & thrum that Half-Made World has, but Half-Made World really is an exceptional novel. Gears does have the advantage of appealing directly to my personal sensibilities-- there is a City, & there is a Mountain. We must have revenge on the Mountain. Of course, I'm getting ahead of myself, but I'm the opposite of Shay. All us Mordicai's work together. Which brings me to the weakest part of the book-- I'm not an idiot. I can take a hint, & the whispers, rumors & secrets paint a picture that the reader puts together too, too far in advance of the characters. Oh, it is very clever, but we readers are a canny lot, give us a little more credit. Still, you can't help but watch Arjun wrestle with the Beast for prophecy without admiring Felix Gilman's knack for reducing myths down to their elements & remixing them. Again, I'm reminded of Gene Wolfe-- birds shouting "Silk!" will do that every time, & Ruth & Arjun being served coffee & doughnuts at the end can only remind me of the Waiting Room in the House Absolute from The Book of the New Sun. One thing to really admire about Gilman is his restraint-- by (largely) penning in the story to a cul-de-sac of the warp & weft of The City's spacetime, he gives himself an easy way to keep the strange cabals of the Hotel mysterious & weird. The quasi-modern flourishes of that period & place only help set it apart from the normal hoi polloi of fantasy-- I suppose it puts him staunchly in the camp of the Weird, which is where I like to keep my roleplaying campaign Oubliette as well.
Tags: books, gilman, haiku
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