On board the moletrain Medes, Sham Yes ap Soorap watches in awe as he witnesses his first moldywarpe hunt: the giant mole bursting from the earth, the harpoonists targeting their prey, the battle resulting in one's death and the other's glory. But no matter how spectacular it is, Sham can't shake the sense that there is more to life than traveling the endless rails of the railsea - even if his captain can think only of the hunt for the ivory-coloured mole she's been chasing since it took her arm all those years ago. When they come across a wrecked train, at first it's a welcome distraction. But what Sham finds in the derelict - a series of pictures hinting at something, somewhere, that should be impossible - leads to considerably more than he'd bargained for. Soon he's hunted on all sides, by pirates, trainsfolk, monsters and salvage-scrabblers. And it might not be just Sham's life that's about to change. It could be the whole of the railsea.
From China Miéville comes a novel for listeners of all ages, a gripping and brilliantly imagined take on Herman Melville's Moby-Dick that confirms his status as "the most original and talented voice to appear in several years." (Science Fiction Chronicle)
©2012 China Mieville (P)2012 Random House Audio
China Miéville's writing is both dense and fragmented—reading it aloud is no easy task, so it is no great criticism of Jonathan Cowley to say that he is not suited for the role he has assumed in narrating Railsea. His reading is warm and personal, but he stumbles on the nuances of the language—those the finicky inflections and the odd staccato that characterizes the calculated casualness of Mr Miéville's distinct voice. Much is lost as a result, and the narrative seems murkier and less impressive than it does on the page.
It would have been more difficult to isolate the faults of Mr Cowley's performance had it not been for narrator John Lee's masterful renditions of previous works by Mr Miéville. Mr Lee has a rare crispness in his delivery that allows Mr Miéville's punctuation to survive the transition from the written to the oral miraculously intact. We can only hope that he will bestow his talent on Railsea somewhere down the line, for this novel, while not as awe-inspiring as Mr Miéville's best works, is still worthy of the best possible delivery.
I love Jonathan Cowley's narration, but Railsea isn't a very engaging story.
It's got a lot of great concepts: an enormous continent crisscrossed by thousands of rail lines, moletrains that go out to harpoon huge burrowing animals at the risk of the lives of the captain and crew, a small boy trying to learn the moletrain life and failing miserably.
Railsea is a steampunk retelling of Moby Dick which constantly mocks its source material. In the Railsea world, every train captain is missing at least one limb and has a "phliosophy," that one animal they're trying to track down. This distain, in conjunction with a whiny, unlikeable main character, put me off the book early on. It's been awhile since I've read Moby Dick, and it's not my favorite, but at least Queequeg was interesting. There are no interesting characters in Railsea, only steam-powered prostheses and giant moles.
I'm a voracious audiobibliophile, mainly interested in speculative fiction, with the occasional mimetic fiction or non-fiction title sneaking in.
So. I came here on Mieville???s name, and on some early burbs which seemed to indicate that there would be some meatier undertones on power and hierarchy; but what I found instead was a fun, tracks-whirring-by story in a deeply stratified Mievillian world of old tech, advanced tech, giant moles, and the Railsea.
I've been at Audible since late summer 2010. It took me about 6 months to warm up to audio, but now that I've started, I'm a little addicted. A multi-tasker at heart, in a good week I get through 4 or 5 books between my Kindle, Audible, and various galleys and ARCs lying around the office (and by that I mean, galleys ARCs nicely stacked and organized.)
China Mieville is verbose and dense, there's nothing more to be said about it. His descriptions are rich. Maybe I'll try reading the physical book, that does seem to go better.
Cowley's narration is simply flat. It sounds as though he was unfamiliar with the writer and the subject matter, and even the underlying theme of the book. I'm sure he's done great work previously, but I'm not sure he's suited to this type of dark, misty SF.
Definitely different. I know many people reading the paper edition have been frustrated initially by the extensive use of ampersands, but I think that is an intentional Verfremdung technique so listeners may miss out. Otherwise I felt like I could follow it better as an audiobook.
The performance was great, it certainly added to the experience.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
In the inimitable style of China Mieville, this is weird fantasy. Enough other reviews can be found that describe Railsea's plot, if there really is a plot, and all I could add is that if this is a YA book and you are a young adult, you'd better be a smart one if you wish to read this book. The book is whimsical and fanciful but loaded with words that many of any of us might need a dictionary's help with.
If I had to describe the book in three words they would be: cute, imaginative and [just plain] fun. Oops... is that more than three words? A lot has been written about this being a spin off on Herman Melville's Moby Dick but there's a lot more going on here than that. As a matter of fact, keeping "track" of it all is a story in itself.
Listening to the story is like reading a comic book but unfortunately, unlike the print version, there are no pictures... ahhhhh. Oh well, the book's still train loads of fun and probably enjoyable for anyone with a warped imagination.
Railsea by China Mieville reads almost like a sci-fi western. It's like Moby Dick on a train on land. Almost reminds me of that classic 70's movie, Mad Max, on the railroad tracks traveling to some broken universal.
I am addictive to this author, but Railsea is a bit different from what I'm used to. It feels like that he wrote this one for a younger audience. but it is still very good. I just enjoyed the entire concept of the trains and mole. Trying to conquer some kind of land creature using harpoons is crazy idea, but it really works.
30 Year up and coming writer who hopes one day to be seen here published and loved :)
The voice acting and story combined with the story telling and reader's ability to make characters distinct.
Moby Dick, Treasure Island, Howl's Moving Castle, and Kidnapped to name a few. The story blends various aspects and tropes of these ideological worlds and settings and makes a comparison to and contrast to each. Its very enjoyable how there are hints of other stories and yet is highly distinctive and very well written.
When Sham's bat attacks thugs for the first time as a little mouse-sized guardian.
Yes and more so!
Recommended for anyone who loves adventure stories, this book really feels like that and more. It is very Diesel Punk and Scavenger World combined but the over all story, setting, and even the very description the author used make me HOPE for a sequel...or a movie adaption sometime soon :) China's other books are often set in dystopia or cyber punk style futures/worlds but this one is very refreshing and harkens the reader back to the classic adventures like previously mentioned Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, Thom Sawyer, and other similar adventure tales.
A true world unlike earth, but slightly similar. Plus all the unfinished avenues of thought waiting to be pursued. Really a mind engaging story.
Yes. To continue the exploration of the unknown parts of that world.
Very enjoyable book. Would like a series.
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