Mieville, China -- The City and the City

The cities of Beszel and Ul Qoma exist on the same physical territory, held apart by their inhabitants' rigid refusal to acknowledge each other. When a body turns up in Beszel, and the weary police inspector suspects that it might be from Ul Qoma... All the discussion about this book seems to be whether it's SF or not. Okay: it is. It's the "...where the science is social science" category. Would people behave like this? No, except that if they did it wouldn't be unusual at all; people do weirder things. But that's not my point. A friend read the back cover and says "Oh, a metaphor for Jerusalem," and that's wrong: the author couldn't give less of a damn about metaphor. (The narrator explicitly disclaims Jerusalem and Cold War Berlin at one point: his home city isn't split, only a foreigner would make that mistake.) This book offers its setup as a reality, and lets the similes fall where they like. That's why it's SF. ...But if you don't care about that, then read a perfectly entertaining police-procedural that goes political.

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