'Pick-up 57' (which I now think is completely the wrong name for the book), is coming on slowly. It's a complex work as I'm trying to strike a balance between what the narrator knows and what is really going on. I have about thirty pages done so far but that should increase rapidly once I get back from holidays at the end of June.
Mind the Gap is the first in a series of novels called 'The Hidden Cities' written by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon. The story follows Jazz who is on the run from the mysterious 'Uncles' who have just killed her mother. Racing across London she enters the underground and then disappears further into the abandon tunnels and secret place deep below the city. Taken in by a 'family' of petty thieves Jazz must learn her about her own past if she is to deal with her future.
Drawing influences from Neverwhere, the novel is magical, but it's a very mundane magic, rooted as it is in the history of London. The underside of London is seen as somewhere dark and foreboding, holding hidden secrets and a violent history. The story itself is a little weak and could have done with more interesting characters particularly the bad guys who come across as enigmas and not really that threatening. That said, it's a good book and one that further enhances the sub-sub-genre of Subterranean fiction.
My second recommendation this week is the book that started Subterranean fiction off. A Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne has a professor and his future son in law following the guidance of an old parchment written by a Viking that leads them deep into Mount Sneffels and a world hidden below ground. Unlike all the film versions, the book is more interested in the journey than the hidden world, and though it is a world of palaeontology, lumbering dinosaurs such as the Tyrannosaurus Rex do not make an appearance.
By today's standards the book is slow, and being told by a character recounting the story as if to a diary, feels old fashioned. But this is where it starts. The world is opened up and the hollow Earth theories are turned into fiction.
Read this week:
Mind the Gap by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon
Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne