City Under the Stars
By: Gardner Dozois & Michael Swanwick
Format/Source: Advanced reading copy courtesy of Tor.com (Netgalley)
God was in his Heaven—which was fifteen miles away, due east.
Far in Earth’s future, in a post-utopian hell-hole, Hanson works ten solid back-breaking hours a day, shoveling endless mountains of coal, within sight of the iridescent wall that separates what’s left of humanity from their gods.
One day, after a tragedy of his own making, Hanson leaves York, not knowing what he will do, or how he will survive in the wilderness without work. He finds himself drawn to the wall, to the elusive promise of God. And when the impossible happens, he steps through, into the city beyond.
The impossible was only the beginning.
I’ve had this book on the radar for some time now, both the title and the premise intrigued me. I was granted access to a galley copy of this book in exchange for a review. This book will be released on 25 August 2020.
I wanted to like this book, I really tried. The opening chapter reminded me of the Soviet dystopian novels–or any of the classic dystopian novels, really–that I read in the past, of the desolate landscapes and lifestyles, how it was all about the work. Hanson working away, the same tasks day in and out, contemplating about the wall dividing his life from what was out there, about the passage of time and the young replacing the old in the workplace. There were some contemplative, quiet pieces in this novella that was really interesting.
Having said that, I couldn’t really get into the story or the characters. Once Hanson left for the wilderness, just like his wanderings I wasn’t sure where the story was going. As promising as the premise was, nothing stood out for me to keep going. I managed to finish the book but I’m still not entirely sure what I read.