This Census-Taker

This strange tale contains elements of China Miéville’s other works.

This Census-Taker

This Census-Taker could be considered, because of its relatively short length, as somewhere between a short story and novel. It tells the story of an unnamed boy and his family on a giant hill. The boy narrates the story of his murderous father and the strange census-taker who comes to take count of all that arrives from an unnamed country. It’s a strange tale and contains elements of China Miéville’s other works.

This Census-Taker might frustrate readers who are unfamiliar with Miéville. The ending will definitely leave you with more questions than answers. It incorporates the “dead-end information” style of Miéville’s earlier masterpiece, Perdido Street Station (2000, review here). A resolution the reader expects never materializes.

There has been some speculation that this story takes place in Miéville’s Bas-Lag universe. This Census-Taker has similar technology to that of Bas-Lag and a reserved fantasy feel. However, the different humanoid races that are common in Bas-Lag don’t appear.

There is magic alluded to that would fit into Bas-Lag. The presence of electricity would indicate that if the story did take place in Bas-Lag, it would have to be after the events in Iron Council (2004, review here).

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