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Month in review

Reviews
Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Avatar: The Last Airbender: Imbalance, Part One by Faith Erin Hicks
The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena
The Big Necessity by Rose George
The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
Brave by Svetlana Chmakova
The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders
Delicious in Dungeon Volume 2 by Ryoko Kui
Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon
The Fever King by Victoria Lee
The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America by Matt Kracht
Galloglass by Scarlett Thomas
The Ghost of Grey Fox Inn by Carolyn Keene
Giant Days, Volume 9 by John Allison
The Great Unknowable End by Kathryn Ormsbee
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
The Little Guys by Vera Brosgol
Make-A-Saurus: My Life with Raptors and Other Dinosaurs by Brian Cooley
Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
Miss Communication by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
Murder Lo Mein by Vivien Chien
Nowhere Boy by Katherine Marsh
A Question of Holmes by Brittany Cavallaro
Three Quarters Dead by Richard Peck
The Tiger in the House by Carl Van Vechten
To Brie or Not To Brie by Avery Aames
Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
The Unteachables by Gordon Korman
We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
Where the Heart Is by Jo Knowles
Wild Blues by Beth Kephart

Miscellaneous
April 2019 Sources
April 2019 Summary
The illusion of organized reading
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (May 06)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (May 13)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (May 20)
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (May 27)
May is looking a lot like mid March

Road Essays
CCFF66: Siblings going offroad to utopia

CCFF33: siblings to utopia along the Blue Highway: a brief look at the first seven seasons of Supernatural

CCFF00: Siblings to Utopia via the interstate

CCCCFF: Siblings through the cornfield to uhoria

CCCCCC: Siblings through the maze to uhoria

Road Narrative Update for April 2019

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Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

Canadian Book Challenge: 2019-2020



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The City in the Middle of the Night: 05/03/19

The City in the Middle of the Night

The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders is a delightful dense and complex science fiction novel. It's set on a planet with a rotation around the sun that is the same as its revolution, meaning the areas of day and night are fixed. Cities and cultures have adapted, though they may not be the most welcoming.

Though the world and world building is complex, Anders makes things more approachable by using simple English terms for complex ideas. The fun here is in reading the descriptions that lead to a mental picture that doesn't match the usual one.

The narrative is told from two points of view. The first is that of a student, Sophie, who is expelled from school and nearly executed for what should be a minor infraction. The second point of view is that of Mouth's, the sole survivor of a pioneering family, now living as a smuggler.

Sophie and Mouth's stories are personal ones. They have small parts in a much larger story, one of revolution. To me, this book reads like a pared down Dune but told from points of view of two of the supporting characters. And in place of Paul, there is a young woman.

I'm not going to go into the details of the revolution because I want you to read this novel. Instead, I'm going to point out how this book fits into the road narrative spectrum.

Like the co-protagonists of An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon, Sophie and Mouth share roles as Scarecrow and Minotaur (99). Sophie, a product of the labyrinthine city feels trapped by it and is persecuted by it. She is therefore the Minotaur. Mouth, while having suffered greater personal losses, is free of the city and has come to provide help (for a fee). She is therefore the Scarecrow.

The destination is the city (00). It is also where most of the action takes place, though both do leave it and come back. The city is the be all and end all of this novel. In the spectrum, the city is the most obvious (and in some genres, the safest) destination. In this novel, not so much. The city is as dangerous as the wilderness, just differently so. It is oppressive. It is restrictive.

As bad as it is, though, is it a dystopia? Does it count as a utopia (no place) for the sake of the road narrative spectrum? I argue no, because from the points of view of Sophie and Mouth, the city, as terrible as it is, is mundane. It is a mappable, knowable place within the confines of their worldview.

Most of the travels these two protagonists take are through Sophie's city. While the city is circular, something they both mention, and while the Minotaur is associated with the labyrinth, the city and the planet are both too dangerous to be considered an easy path, or a transformative one. Therefore, the path is that of the maze (CC).

Put all together The City in the Middle of the Night is the tale of a scarecrow and a minotaur navigating the dangers of the maze to bring revolution to the city.

Four stars

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