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Literature / Looking For Jake

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First published in 2005, Looking for Jake and Other Stories as its full title states, is an anthology of stories written or co-written by famous New Weird author China Miéville. These stories run the gamut from Urban Fantasy, to Satire, to Surrealist Cosmic Horror and everything in between, all tied together by their setting, the city of London.
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The anthology consists of eleven short stories, two novellas and a comic sequence illustrated by Liam Sharp. In order, they are;

  • Looking for Jake
  • Foundation
  • The Ball Room
  • Reports of Certain Events in London
  • Familiar
  • Entry Taken from a Medical Encyclopaedia
  • Details
  • Go Between
  • Different Skies
  • An End to Hunger
  • Tis the Season
  • Jack
  • On The Way to the Front
  • The Tain

Of these eleven short stories, three had never been published before. One story, "Jack" is set Mieville's Bas-Lag Cycle. These stories have a strong political slant to them, and are typical of Mieville's dark style of writing. Compare with Mieville's other anthology; Three Moments of an Explosion.

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Tropes common to the anthology as a whole:

  • And I Must Scream: In The Tain and Foundation
    • A possible interpretation of the end of Details
  • Author Tract: Foundation, Tis the Season and An End to Hunger all clearly show Mieville's leftist leanings.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The monster in Details and The Ball Room.
    • Arguably, the familiar in Familiar
    • And the children in Different Skies
  • New Weird: Very much so. This is China Mieville, after all.

Looking For Jake provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Apocalyptic Log: The story is told through a letter that the unnamed narrator is writing to the titular Jake, who vanished with the rest of London. It ends with them deciding to post the letter (Even though no one is left to pick up the post anymore, they reason that it getting to Jake makes as much sense as everything else that happened) and them surrendering to the city.
  • Apocalypse How: A class 0, as far as the narrator is aware. The exact type is hard to describe, something that is lampshaded in the story itself. A Cosmic Horror Story themed Outside-Context Problem is perhaps the closest term.
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  • Cosmic Horror Story: London just kind of... stops being a place humans exist it. Most of the population vanishes, and from the perspective of the unnamed narrator we see that London starts trying to hurry along the last people out of it, as well as replacing human activities itself. It even begins to spontaneously generate litter.

Foundation provides examples of the following tropes:

  • And I Must Scream: the Foundation itself, undead bodies from those killed in wars and conflicts, stacked like bricks that support the modern world. Unable to move or change, they whisper how hungry they are.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: The protagonist, who works as a building inspector, deliberately lets a building collapse so that the Foundation, who complains about being full of sand, will have sacrifices and leave him alone. Only later he understands that the Foundation never wanted sacrifices and aren't ever going away, they're under everything, being made up of the dead who died to sustain the modern world.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted; three children die in the accident he causes.

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