A few things to mention today. First, the good people at Subterranean Press have put up a pre-order page for the limited edition of This Census-Taker. It’ll have artwork by Vincent Chong, who has illustrated quite a few of the earlier Subterranean Press limited editions of Miéville’s novels.
There’s also a blog post which mentions the length of the story — around 30,000 words. That’s actually really short! Quite surprising that it’ll be stretched out to almost 200 pages in printed length. Subterranean Press has given us a new description of the plot, too:
A boy ran down a hill path screaming.
This running, screaming boy has witnessed something terrible, something so awful that he cannot even properly articulate it. All he can do is run. His story is investigated, but no evidence is found to support it, and so in the end, he is sent back. Back up that hill path to the site of his terror, to live with the parent who caused it.
The boy tries to escape. He flees to a gang of local children but they can’t help him. The town refuses to see his danger. He is alone.
Then a stranger arrives. A stranger who claims his job is to ask questions, seek truth. Who can, perhaps, offer safety. Or whose offer may be something altogether different, something safety is no part of.
In This Census-Taker, multiple award-winning writer China Miéville offers a story made of secrets and subtle reveals, of tragedy and bravery, of mysteries that shift when they appear to be known. It is a stunning work, full of strangeness and power.
As always, it sounds intriguing, but I’m glad we have a full-length novel to look forward to later in 2016. It’s quite puzzling why such a short novella merited its own release — in hardcover, nonetheless. Couldn’t this novella have been included in Three Moments of an Explosion?
Anyway, talking of that full-length novel (The Last Days of New Paris), here’s a tiny tidbit about it from a German bookseller: it will be about 448 pages, and like Census-Taker, published by Picador, Pan Macmillan’s literary imprint. All of China’s previous books were published by Tor UK (the company’s SF/F imprint), so does this signal a move away from outright, unashamed SF & fantasy works from our favourite author, to a more literary/magical-realist oeuvre? Or is it a marketing decision? I’m all for more literary works (god knows Miéville has the talent!), but I just hope Miéville continues to imbue his books with that fun, genre-soaked playfulness that he always has.