Offering a freshly imagined world of bizarre creatures and strange customs, this unique and sardonic allegory explores the power and price of science and the ambiguity of morality.
Humorless and drug addicted, physiognomist Cley is ordered by the Master of the Well-Built City to investigate a theft in a remote mining town. Well-versed in serving justice, arrogant Cley sets out to determine the identity of the thief using the pseudo-science of judging people by their features, but becomes distracted from his task by a beautiful girl from town. When the young-but-wise woman rejects him, he looses faith in his abilities, and in a drug-induced frenzy he remakes her features. The subsequent horror of what he has done, what he represents, and the shallow life he leads forces him to seek atonement and true justice, risking the Masters wrath, which may entail death by head explosion.
World Fantasy Award, Best Novel, 1998
"Ford is a gifted writer who has produced a real page-turner of a moral allegory." (Locus)
"Seriously, logically, stunningly surreal: a compact, richly textured, enthralling fantasy debut." (Kirkus Reviews)
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Sometimes brilliant, always bizarre
Recommended for China Mieville fans
- Mackenzie S. Kooiker