Is Paris Churning?
Created by ggrihn on 9/6/2016 7:14:50 PM

The Last days of New Paris, by China Mieville

Reviewed by Gregory G.H. Rihn, Steampunk Chronicle Literary Editor

The Last Days of New Paris is a new short book by China Mieville, author of the important Steampunk works Perdido Street Station, The Iron Council, and The Scar. Set in an alternate world World War II, the story is of interest as a very variant form of Dieselpunk.

In 1941, Jack Parsons, a historical character who really was both a rocket scientist and an occultist, visits Vichy France on the way to try to covertly scavenge occult forces from Prague, that one-time hotbed of Alchemy and Theurgy. Halted in France, he instead manifests and stores pure Surrealistic energy siphoned off from the members of the salon of artist Andre Breton. But, his occult battery is stolen and transported to Paris where Resistance members hope to use it against the Nazi occupiers. The resulting "S-blast" turns Paris into a zone of warped reality where works of art roam the streets, and battle demons.

In 1950, the battle for Paris is still going on, with artist/warriors like Thibaut fighting Germans and other Resistance groups while trying to avoid the notice of the manis, or manifested art works, and the demons, who hate Earth and want to go back to the Hell they were called from. Paris is a forbidden zone, with little getting in or out, even news of the outside world. Into this literally Surreal setting comes an American woman photojournalist, Sam, who has her own goals and brings Thibaut more disturbing questions than answers.

I enjoyed this brief book, picturing in my mind the bizarre encounters as they occurred. (I was strongly reminded of some Doom Patrol comics of the 1990's, featuring the Surrealist villain, "Mr. Nobody," particularly in the deployment of art as weapon.)

The Last Days of New Paris at Amazon

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