In this collection of 14 short stories, Mieville paints a picture of a dark, demon-haunted world. Many of the stories--"Familiar," "Details" and "Different Skies," for example--start out with an interesting premise but fall flat in the execution. Fans of Mieville's prior work will be happy to see a New Crobuzon story in "Jack."

Mieville excels with stories that have a definite political bent to them. "An End to Hunger" and "Tis the Season" are both excellent, the former skewering Internet charity and the latter lampoon-ing the increased commercialization of Christmas.

Unfortunately, two wonderful stories don't tip the balance here, and this uneven collection is unlikely to win the author any new fans. (Sep., 336 pp., $14.95)

Reviewed by: 
Natalie A. Luhrs