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11 Local Warehouse Children's- Science Fiction and Fantasy

Un Lun Dun

by

Un Lun Dun Cover

 

 

Excerpt

1

The Respectful Fox

There was no doubt about it: there was a fox behind the climbing frame. And it was watching.

“It is, isnt it?”

The playground was full of children, their gray uniforms flapping as they ran and kicked balls into makeshift goals. Amid the shouting and the games, a few girls were watching the fox.

“It definitely is. Its just watching us,” a tall blond girl said. She could see the animal clearly behind a fringe of grass and thistle. “Why isnt it moving?” She walked slowly towards it.

At first the friends had thought the animal was a dog, and had started ambling towards it while they chatted. But halfway across the tarmac they had realized it was a fox.

It was a cold cloudless autumn morning and the sun was bright. None of them could quite believe what they were seeing. The fox kept standing still as they approached.

“I saw one once before,” whispered Kath, shifting her bag from shoulder to shoulder. “I was with my dad by the canal. He told me theres loads in London now, but you dont normally see them.”

“It should be running,” said Keisha, anxiously. “Im staying here. Thats got teeth.”

“All the better to eat you with,” said Deeba.

“That was a wolf,” said Kath.

Kath and Keisha held back: Zanna, the blond girl, slowly approached the fox, with Deeba, as usual, by her side. They got closer, expecting it to arch into one of those beautiful curves of animal panic, and duck under the fence. It kept not doing so.

The girls had never seen any animal so still. It wasnt that it wasnt moving: it was furiously not-moving. By the time they got close to the climbing frame they were creeping exaggeratedly, like cartoon hunters.

The fox eyed Zannas outstretched hand politely. Deeba frowned.

“Yeah, it is watching,” Deeba said. “But not us. Its watching you.”

Zanna—she hated her name Susanna, and she hated “Sue” even more—had moved to the estate about a year ago, and quickly made friends with Kath and Keisha and Becks and others. Especially Deeba. On her way to Kilburn Comprehensive, on her first day, Deeba had made Zanna laugh, which not many people could do. Since then, where Zanna was, Deeba tended to be too. There was something about Zanna that drew attention. She was decent-to-good at things like sports, schoolwork, dancing, whatever, but that wasnt it: she did well enough to do well, but never enough to stand out. She was tall and striking, but she never played that up either: if anything, she seemed to try to stay in the background. But she never quite could. If she hadnt been easy to get on with, that could have caused her trouble.

Sometimes even her mates were a little bit wary of Zanna, as if they werent quite sure how to deal with her. Even Deeba herself had to admit that Zanna could be a bit dreamy. Sometimes she would sort of zone out, staring skywards or losing the thread of what she was saying.

Just at that moment, however, she was concentrating hard on what Deeba had just said.

Zanna put her hands on her hips, and even her sudden movement didnt make the fox jump.

“Its true,” said Deeba. “It hasnt taken its eyes off you.”

Zanna met the foxs gentle vulpine gaze. All the girls watching, and the animal, seemed to get lost in something.

. . . Until their attention was interrupted by the bell for the end of break. The girls looked at each other, blinking.

The fox finally moved. Still looking at Zanna, it bowed its head. It did it once, then leapt up and was gone.

Deeba watched Zanna, and muttered, “This is just getting weird.”

From the Hardcover edition.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Stacie Morrell, July 21, 2014 (view all comments by Stacie Morrell)
Alice in Wonderland for the X, Y and Z generations, or Oz for the modern age. Fantastic wordplay and masterfully written, with images and imaginings Lewis Carroll would be proud of. Zanna and her friend Deeba are whisked away to a fantastic mirror image of London (only one of many mirror cities in existence, such as Romeless, Lost Angeles, Helsunki, No York) where items Londoners are done with end up to be used again (in very different ways) and giraffes are flesh-eating fiends. While a thick book, the pacing is brisk and lively, with great characterization, and the thrill to see what the author will imagine next. Great fun for teens on up.
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Serene, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by Serene)
I just loved the wordplay in this delightful YA novel. Even more appealing to me is the way it skewers (and puts a fresh face on) the usual sexist tropes found in YA girl-hero books. It's one of those books I found really hard to finish, because I didn't want it to end.
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Dead Air, October 1, 2008 (view all comments by Dead Air)
China Mieville's first foray into young adult literature is one part Oz, one part Neverwhere, one part Monty Python's Holy Grail and one part Gulliver's Travels for the cell phone generation.

If you are expecting a kids' version of his Bas Lag novels, this is not even remotely similar to that. If you've read King Rat and some of his more horror tinged stories set in London, that's getting closer, but don't expect that level of edgy darkness. This is satire and often rather whimsical, though not without Mieville's decidedly leftist political agenda as an undercurrent. He takes a swipe at some of the mythical cliches of the very type of story he's telling too. The "chosen one" may not be the hero(iene) in the end when China's spinning the yarn.

Does this stand up as a read for adults as well? Certainly if you're willing to ride with China through a very different world from his other works.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780345458445
Author:
Mieville, China
Publisher:
Del Rey Books
Author:
Mieville, China
Author:
Written and illustrated by China Mi?ville
Author:
Written and illustrated by China Mi?ville
Subject:
Science Fiction - Adventure
Subject:
Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic
Subject:
Fantasy & Magic
Subject:
Science / Adventure
Subject:
Children s-Science Fiction and Fantasy
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20080131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 5
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
496
Dimensions:
8.30x5.56x1.05 in. .87 lbs.
Age Level:
13-17

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Related Subjects

Children's » Science Fiction and Fantasy » General
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » A to Z
Young Adult » General

Un Lun Dun New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 496 pages Del Rey Books - English 9780345458445 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Mieville (King Rat) presents a remarkable bit of world-building.

London teenager Zanna (short for Susanna) starts to experience odd occurrences: clouds that resemble her, strangers who call her the 'Shwazzy,' and graffiti that reads 'Zanna For Ever!' Zanna, it turns out, is the Shwazzy (choisior 'chosen one') of the people of UnLondon (the Un Lun Dun of the title), a surreal mirror-image of London ('Abcities have existed at least as long as the cities,' a book of prophecy tells her, 'Each dreams the other'). Together, Zanna and her friend Deeba wind up in UnLondon, a Gaiman-esque wonderland of ghosts, zombies, walking garbage cans and sentient umbrellas. (Its people have a sense of humor, describing how they disposed of pre-euro currency, and other parallel 'abcities' such as 'Parisn't' and 'No York'). The Smog, a beast borne of London's 'smoke from chemicals and poisons' haunts UnLondon, and it seems that Zanna is the one designated to defeat the Smog. But a twist of fate unleashes unforeseen events and the UnLondoners wind up pinning their hopes on Deeba.

Mieville employs a few tricks from the experimental novelist's bag (five-words-long chapters, others that end mid-sentence, puns and wordplay galore) but by and large relies on his formidable storytelling skill for this lengthy yet swift-moving tale that, with a wink and a nod, cuts through archetypal notions of fate and prophecy. Highly recommended for Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker fans especially." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

"Review A Day" by , "Un Lun Dun doesn't have the breathless otherness and depth of Perdido Street Station, but it isn't intended to....Un Lun Dun is a nice little morsel that makes a great chaser after a dense nonfiction book, and is a good recommendation for someone who has already read Philip Pullman's fabulous His Dark Materials series (and those books about the boy wizard)." (read the entire Powells.com review)
"Review" by , "[A] dark, charming, robust, comical adventure played according to new rules."
"Review" by , "The characters are well realized and the book has a fair amount of sociopolitical subtext, mostly about questioning the status quo and thinking for oneself."
"Review" by , "A book which shows the world as it truly is: full of marvels and monsters and unexpected opportunities for heroism and magic. Un Lun Dun is delicious, twisty, ferocious fun, a book so crammed with inventions, delights, and unexpected turns that you will want to start reading it over again as soon as you've reached the end."
"Review" by , "Many young readers will no doubt find the adventure compelling....In a way, the novel feels like a screenplay, ready to have its delightful ideas translated to the purely visual."
"Review" by , "Mieville's compelling heroine and her fantastical journey through the labyrinth of a strange London forms that rare book that feels instantly like a classic and yet is thoroughly modern."
"Synopsis" by , Un Lun Dun is London through the looking glass, an urban Wonderland of strange delights where all the lost and broken things end up — including people. When 12-year-old Zanna and her friend Deeba find a secret entrance into this strange city, it seems that an ancient prophecy is coming true. Illustrations.
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