Monday, October 10, 2016

The City Born Great, by N.K. Jemisin

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(Modern Fantasy) A young hustler discovers that he's supposed to play a big role in transforming New York from a city to a City. If he can survive it. (6,286 words; Time: 20m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

"," by (edited by Liz Gorinsky), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: The narrator really does want to do something creative. He sings, he draws, and he despairs, because he knows he has no future. Paulo saves him, and he brings New York to life and defeats a monster with it.

Con: It's hard to consistently suspend disbelief for this one. Swinging bridges and neighborhoods into action against a Cthulhu-like creature is hard to credit.

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4 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I enjoyed the narrator's voice and perspective on his city. I didn't have a problem suspending disbelief. I saw the fight as taking place in another dimension where the city and its avatar are one. So moving the city around is just like moving his own body. I could easily picture this anthropomorphized NYC from the description of hip-checking, backhanding, and elbowing the Enemy around. My issue was with the vagueness of this Enemy. Why doesn't it want cities becoming sentient? Any other reason than the need for a test of the city's readiness? What's the Enemy get out of it if it wins? Given the only POV, I suppose there wasn't a way to work this info in.

    1. It seemed to me, though, that the story really was meant to take place in our world. Did I miss something that made it clear it was some other dimension, or is that just how you rationalized it? (Coming up with a good rationalizion is critical to getting through some stories, I think, but the best stories don't make you do that.)

    2. My impression was that the story is basically in our world, but the city avatars are the only ones who are fully conscious of this other "city spirit" level. Paulo mentions that he'd heard his city breathing all his life and thought everyone could. Only when Hong (Hong Kong?) showed him more did he realize he was special.

  2. This is a good story but it didn't "Wow" me.

    Like Laura, I liked the narrator's voice. I am glad he had a happy ending.

    I just couldn't appreciate or understand an anthropomorphized NYC, having never been to New York or lived in a city that big.