“One of the most intriguing future cities in years.” —Charlie Jane Anders
“Simmers with menace and heartache, suspense and wonder.” —Ann Leckie
A Best Book of the Month in
The Washington Post
B&N Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog
After the climate wars, a floating city is constructed in the Arctic Circle, a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering, complete with geothermal heating and sustainable energy. The city’s denizens have become accustomed to a roughshod new way of living, however, the city is starting to fray along the edges—crime and corruption have set in, the contradictions of incredible wealth alongside direst poverty are spawning unrest, and a new disease called “the breaks” is ravaging the population.
When a strange new visitor arrives—a woman riding an orca, with a polar bear at her side—the city is entranced. The “orcamancer,” as she’s known, very subtly brings together four people—each living on the periphery—to stage unprecedented acts of resistance. By banding together to save their city before it crumbles under the weight of its own decay, they will learn shocking truths about themselves.
Blackfish City is a remarkably urgent—and ultimately very hopeful—novel about political corruption, organized crime, technology run amok, the consequences of climate change, gender identity, and the unifying power of human connection.
Miller, fresh from his YA debut (The Art of Starving), makes the jump to adult SF with an ambitious, imaginative, and big-hearted dystopian ensemble story that's by turns elegiac and angry. The floating city of Qaanaaq was constructed after many mainland cities burned or sank. The arrival of a woman with two unusual companions an orca and a polar bear draws a disparate group together. Ankit, a political aide, wants to free her institutionalized birth mother; her brother, Kaev, is a brain-damaged fighter at the end of his career; Fill, a rich playboy, has the breaks, an illness that throws sufferers into strangers' memories; and Soq, an ambitious nonbinary street messenger, is trying to hustle their way into a better life. Together, they uncover a dramatic series of secrets, connections, and political plots. Miller has crafted a thriller that unflinchingly examines the ills of urban capitalism. Qaanaaq is a beautiful and brutal character in its own right, rendered in poetic interludes. The novel stumbles only at the very end, in a denouement that feels just a little too hurried for the characters' twisting journey.
An utterly different look at survival Language and clarity make this a fast and exciting read
Story is entertaining, however the author repeatedly tries to unnecessarily add sexual bits that distract from the story and come off super cringy.
Impressively ambitious, big-hearted, and provocative. I grew to love its wide-ranging cast of characters, and as I progressed through the novel, I became more and more enchanted by how well its initially rambling structure gives way to a tightly-constructed narrative that comes into sharper and sharper focus. Miller writes with a confidence and clarity that is bracing, and suffuses his story with an abiding hunger for righting the economic wrongs of our society, but never does so in an easy or preachy or facile way.
I’ve read all but one of this year’s Nebula Award for Best Novel nominees, and if I’d been a member of SFWA and had a vote, this would have gotten it, for its originality, its heart, and for the manner in which it channels Miller’s fervent imagination to speak eloquently about matters that are very resonant in our expansive, diverse, complicated, and frighteningly endangered modern world.