(Vespertilio diei)

Reproduced with permission from the personal collection of Sham Yes ap Soorap.

Credit: China Mieville (illustration credit 9.1)


NO CLATTERNAMES, NO SWITCHES, NO THUD OF wheels on rail. No rails nor wheels to thud them. Sham shouts in a new motion.

There have been goodbyes. The last rail of the railsea is long out of sight. Sham revels in crashing splash. He whoops in spray.

It took days & efforts & expertise to return to the senior Shroakes’ last carriage, to investigate Sham’s hunch, & to finish what, they discovered, had been started.

Its ceiling had been turned into its sealed underside. Its body made to taper, wedge-shaped & streamlined. Full of air-filled chambers. Housing was ready for a stripped-tree mast. Rope & stiff cloth was in a lockbox, at which Sham stared with recently acquired expertise. Why should sails only work on trains? he had demanded.

Over the water the upsky is thinner. The sun makes rainbows through the spray. They bob in enormous damp space. Daybe scuds, & Sham staggers. His rail-legs are no help on this new deck. On this floaty upside- down water train. We have to give this thing a better name, Sham thinks.

Caldera & Dero look up from where they’re working the sail. Sham remembers Bajjer techniques & shouts instructions. Canvas billows, a boom swings & their vessel rushes through the water. Going they know not where.

Sham lifts the hatch in the deck to the little kitchen & the cabins below, rebuilt upside-down rooms. He pauses at the top of the ladder, watches Naphi.

The captain, last member of the crew, stares over the side at a silver-skinned throng of fish. Stares past them thoughtfully. Stares intently, leaning over to stare deep into the water’s dark.

Sham smiles.



With hugest thanks to Mark Bould, Nadia Bouzidi, Mic Cheetham, Julie Crisp, Rupa DasGupta, Maria Dahvana Headley, Chloe Healy, Deanna Hoak, Ratna Kamath, Simon Kavanagh, Jemima Mieville, David Moensch, Bella Pagan, Anne Perry, Max Schaefer, Chris Schluep, Jared Shurin, Jane Soodalter, Jesse Soodalter, Mark Tavani, Evan Calder Williams & all at Macmillan & Del Rey.

As always, I’m indebted to too many writers & artists to list, but particularly important to this book are Joan Aiken, John Antrobus, the Awdrys Sr. & Jr., Catherine Besterman, Lucy Lane Clifford, Daniel Defoe, F. Tennyson Jesse, Erich Kastner, Ursula le Guin, John Lester, Penelope Lively, Herman Melville, Spike Milligan, Charles Platt, Robert Louis Stevenson & the Strugatsky Brothers.


King Rat

Perdido Street Station

The Scar

Iron Council

Looking for Jake: Stories

Un Lun Dun

The City & The City




CHINA MIEVILLE is the author of several books, including Un Lun Dun, Perdido Street Station, The City & The City, Kraken & Embassytown. His works have won the Hugo, the British Science Fiction Award (twice), the Arthur C. Clarke Award (three times) & the World Fantasy Award. He lives & works in London.

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