The Last Days of New Paris by China Miéville – new description, first review, and free sample!

I am an Amateur of Velocipedes 1941 by Leonora Carrington 1917-2011The US release of The Last Days of New Paris is coming up in August, although the UK release is strangely not until early 2017. I asked the publisher why this was, and got this answer: “We are indeed publishing at the beginning of 2017. While the UK often publishes alongside American editions, we sometimes work to different schedules. I hope that makes sense.”

Oh well. China Miéville’s dedicated fans will just order it from the US, so it’s Pan Macmillan’s loss. Anyway, there’s been a blitz of information about the book lately! Read ahead to whet your appetite for the new book.

Firstly, a new description of the novel (well, it’s closer to a novella in length) from Subterranean Press:

“In Paris you had to be ready to fight art and the Hellish—not to mention Nazis…”

Multiple-award-winning China Mieville’s extraordinary novel The Last Days of New Paris is a door into the heart of a twentieth century that never was, that always was. The hinges it turns on are surrealism and anti-Fascism and occultism, oiled by vivid prose that startlingly mines art and poetry for its images. The story it opens to reveal combines mystery and adventure, philosophy and revolution.

Here is the American Jack Parsons in 1941 Marseilles, navigating a tangle of competing wartime powers incapable of containing the chaos of wartime Europe. A student of the occult, he encounters fleeing surrealist thinkers, and something extraordinary is born in the cauldron of his imagination.

Here is the resistance fighter Thibaut in 1950 Paris, struggling to survive and fight on in a city haunted by manifs, manifestations from the dreams and nightmares of the century’s most fertile imaginations. These manifs are in conflict with hellspawn called up by Nazi officer-priests.

By turns heartbreaking and breathtaking, this book conjures a world that demands attention, and tests loyalties to concepts as fundamental as reality itself. Here is a tour de force of imagination, here is a crescendo of thought, here, at last, is the exquisite corpse. Here is The Last Days of New Paris, an unmissable new novel by a modern master of the fantasic.

Secondly, the first review of the book is online, from Publishers Weekly as usual. Follow the link for the whole thing. I’m intrigued by the focus on surreal art from the era. It’s bringing up memories of the first university degree I did, in fine arts & media. (If you’re wondering, the artwork accompanying this blog post is the one mentioned in the review, An Amateur of Velocipedes, by the way.)

Thirdly, the US publisher Del Rey is offering a free ebook sampler of its upcoming titles, which includes an excerpt from The Last Days of New Paris. Unfortunately it’s only available to US readers. I’ve tried to download it myself with no luck. If anyone downloads it, let me know what the sample was like, and how long it is.

That’s all for now. I’m sure you’re as excited for the book as I am. Make sure you study up on your art history for August 9th!

First proper description of Revenger by Alastair Reynolds

planet-crackedAlastair Reynolds’ new novel Revenger arrives in August, and the new plot description is very exciting. I found it on Bookdepository.com. Here’s what it’s all about:

The galaxy has seen great empires rise and fall. Planets have shattered and been remade. Amongst the ruins of alien civilisations, building our own from the rubble, humanity still thrives.

And there are vast fortunes to be made, if you know where to find them …

Captain Rackamore and his crew do. It’s their business to find the tiny, enigmatic worlds which have been hidden away, booby-trapped, surrounded with layers of protection – and to crack them open for the ancient relics and barely-remembered technologies inside. But while they ply their risky trade with integrity, not everyone is so scrupulous.

Adrana and Fura Ness are the newest members of Rackamore’s crew, signed on to save their family from bankruptcy. Only Rackamore has enemies, and there might be more waiting for them in space than adventure and fortune: the fabled and feared Bosa Sennen in particular.

Revenger is a science fiction adventure story set in the rubble of our solar system in the dark, distant future – a tale of space pirates, buried treasure and phantom weapons, of unspeakable hazards and single-minded heroism … and of vengeance …

This could end up being my favourite of Reynolds’ universes to date, with its mix of alien ruins, piracy, and a seemingly Firefly-like vibe. I’m dying to read this book.

There’s also, of course, the collection Beyond the Aquila Rift: The Best of Alastair Reynolds, coming out in June or July (depending on the publisher). Oh and it seems that The Medusa Chronicles (co-written by Reynolds and Stephen Baxter) is out now in the UK. I’ll need to look into ordering it!

A third China Miéville book for 2016! It’s a picture book!

WorstBreakfast-560x800Hold the goddamn presses! I just stumbled across a third book by China Miéville due to be published this year, on Amazon. But it’s not a novel, it’s a children’s picture book called The Worst Breakfast. I also found the official publisher’s page.

Now don’t get too hyped: it’s only 32 pages long and supposedly aimed at 3-7 year olds — not exactly Miéville’s usual fanbase. But still, more work by our favourite author is always newsworthy. Here’s the slightly odd description:

Two sisters sit down for breakfast, and one remembers a really gross breakfast they once had, and reminds her sister about it. But her little sister doesn’t remember. So then she starts describing all of the really gross things that were in the worst breakfast they ever had, until all they can picture is a table piled sky-high with the weirdest, yuckiest, grossest, slimiest, slickest, stinkiest breakfast two kids can ever have. And then they have a really good breakfast.

The illustrations will be by Zak Smith, previously known for the interestingly-titled body of work Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon’s Novel Gravity’s Rainbow. His style seems like it would fit with Miéville’s penchant for urban grittiness — and damn, does that cover look cool!

The book is out on October 4th.

A new official description of The Last Days of New Paris by China Miéville

9780345543998We now have the official description for China Miéville’s upcoming novel The Last Days of New Paris, from the US publishers Random House.

Read it right here:

A thriller of war that never was—of survival in an impossible city—of surreal cataclysm. In The Last Days of New Paris, China Miéville entwines true historical events and people with his daring, uniquely imaginative brand of fiction, reconfiguring history and art into something new.

“Beauty will be convulsive. . . .”

1941. In the chaos of wartime Marseilles, American engineer—and occult disciple—Jack Parsons stumbles onto a clandestine anti-Nazi group, including Surrealist theorist André Breton. In the strange games of the dissident diplomats, exiled revolutionaries, and avant-garde artists, Parsons finds and channels hope. But what he unwittingly unleashes is the power of dreams and nightmares, changing the war and the world forever.

1950. A lone Surrealist fighter, Thibault, walks a new, hallucinogenic Paris, where Nazis and the Résistance are trapped in unending conflict, and the streets are stalked by living images and texts—and by the forces of Hell. To escape the city, he must join forces with Sam, an American photographer intent on recording the ruins, and make common cause with a powerful, enigmatic figure of chance and rebellion: the Exquisite Corpse.

But Sam is being hunted. And new secrets will emerge that will test all their loyalties—to each other, to Paris old and new, and to reality itself.

That just sounds amazing. It could be Miéville’s most political and most complex novel yet, and I’m beyond excited. It’s out on August 9th!

I may have a bit of a book problem…


Looks nice, doesn’t it? I wanted to share some photos of the books I just sorted and shelved. I just moved in with my partner, which involved packing and transporting hundreds and hundreds of books, and trying to find room for them in our new place. Sadly though, the shelves pictured represent only about half of my total collection, and I really would rather not have to buy more bookcases.

Using my Goodreads account and some good old fashioned guessing, I would estimate that I have somewhere in the realm of 800 physical books… and I’m not sure this includes things like comics, textbooks, reference books, and so on. My partner has at least half this number himself, so our living room is totally stuffed, and I still have boxes of books I haven’t opened yet — as well as more boxes and shelves at my parents’ places!

cubeshelvesIt’s getting a bit ridiculous, frankly. My reading rate isn’t the greatest. I’m getting through 30 or 40 books a year, and I’m buying a similar number of new books each year. So I know for certain that there are books I’ve bought that I’ll never get around to reading, as well as ones I’ve read that I’m holding onto that I’ll never get the chance to re-read.

It’s time to do a big cull, I think. It’s going to be heartbreaking in some cases, and I’m worried my hoarder tendencies will rear their head when it comes time to sort through them. But I’m making a few goals and rules:

  • First, my short-term or “starter” goal is to donate 50 books to my city’s next big charity book fair, which is in February.
  • Then, I aim to cull at least another hundred by the end of 2016. I’ll offer all the titles up to friends first (a list on Facebook, giving people a month or so to claim books) before I take them to donate. Trying to sell most of these books is more trouble than it’s worth.
  • Easiest to get rid of will be second-hand paperbacks and crappy mass-market books, especially novels. These I can easily find in a library or get on Kindle.
  • Tougher will be newer books, especially ones I’ve bought in hardcover. I’ll have to decide which are really worth keeping around in physical form rather than going the Kindle route. I’ll have to set aside the price factor of some of them — they may have been expensive, but that money is long spent. It’s in the past, I need to let go.
  • I have more than a few duplicates too, from an era when I was terrified I would read a book to pieces and not have a backup copy. You can see multiple copies of some of China Miéville’s books in the second photo, for instance. But there’s no point in keeping these duplicates now that I have every Miéville book on my Kindle. I can get ebook backups for most of my favourites now!
  • Books exempt from my cull: ones by my favourite authors, ones I’ve bought recently that I know I’ll get to soon, collector’s editions, art and reference books, signed books, rare/out-of-print books.
  • Books I buy in the future will, more often than not, be on Kindle. This counts especially for things like novels, which are just straightforward pieces of text. When books have nice layouts and images and so on, that’s when it’s worth getting a physical copy.

I don’t intend to go minimalist, though. I’m still happy to have a good 300-400 books sitting around that I really love. But I need to justify their permanent place in my life. The day I can fit everything I own onto the shelves pictured above, I will be satisfied. (Okay, maybe I’ll treat myself to one more bookcase from Ikea…)

Poll: What do you enjoy most about this blog?

Bg5JvSBCIAAVlG1.jpg-largeIf it hasn’t been obvious, I haven’t had a lot of time lately to write on this blog. That’s the consequence of being a full-time PhD student, I guess. But I do want to keep all this going as well. While I do fully intend to continue with all of the blog projects I’ve begun recently (Dial H reviews, Embassytown re-read, Miéville rarities, and so on), I’d like to get reader opinions about what they enjoy the most from this blog. It will help me decide what kind of thing I should prioritize when time is more limited.

Please take the time to read the poll below and vote for what you enjoy the most from Out There Books!


Thanks for your vote and your continuing readership!

A return

Oh shit. Looks like I dropped the ball with those chapter-by-chapter posts. It was turning out to be a bit of a drain on my enthusiasm, and was making reading one of my favourite books into a chore. While I won’t rule out returning to finish them at some point, I’d rather reshape this blog into something else.

I’ve been reading a ton of space opera and hard SF, and I want to use this blog to post reviews of books I enjoy as I read them, as well as other thoughts on the genre. All that will be coming shortly. First though, I’ll be cross-posting a few recent reviews from my Goodreads account. And that’s all I have to say in this post!

Initial post

My name is Tom, and I’ve started this blog for a few reasons: one, because I like writing stuff about the books I read, and I wanted somewhere a bit less ephemeral than message boards to store these thoughts; two, because I recently was very lucky to receive an advance copy of Embassytown by China Miéville (my favourite author), and I thought I should have a respectable place to publish my review of it! That will be coming tomorrow, most probably.

So if you need me I’ll be in the corner with headphones on, reading.