the city, she don’t like you

I finished China Mieville’s THE CITY AND THE CITY recently: it’s kind of like Borges meets…well, Borges, really, but slightly less elegant and much more tense. It also reads very oddly for someone who spent a summer living in Berlin, with a visit to Budapest thrown in. Mieville plays his fantasy very straight, as befits the noir / detective style, but it’s still fantasy: there are organizations with strange powers, nods to elder forces, and so on. And all of this works, and I recommend it highly.

However, after walking over the Berlin Wall several times this summer, this got me thinking: what if there’s no fantasy involved, no magic powers, except the boundless ability of people to fool themselves? What if a city could be split in two by sheer will and propaganda, with no need for walls, magic, or anything else? Having been through small portions of the former Eastern Bloc, this doesn’t seem so unlikely to me anymore.