Inspector Tyador Borlú, of the Extreme Crime Squad, leads a double life in a double city, is proudly single, though intensely lonely, and oversees an investigation that fatally leads him to mix the professional and the personal, as happens in traditional hard-boiled narratives. What makes the difference is that he moves in an unfamiliar environment and that the setting is dystopian : an urban space made up of two overlapping cities (Besźel and Ul Qoma), located in an unspecified European area and defined by a state of permanent unrest between them, the root causes of which are mysterious. Borlú replicates some of the basic features of Chandler’s very successful detective, whilst moving in a totally alien setting. Built as a police procedural in a noir setting, China Miéville’s The City & the City shifts the story towards the future, and in so doing provides a radically novel version of the traditional formulae of the hard boiled and its typical protagonist. Through an analysis of the novel, the essay demonstrates the extent to which the ‘intermarriage’ between crime fiction and science fiction can produce a totally new brand of detective, whilst maintaining some of the basic formulae of the genre.

From Marlowe to Borlú. Detecting the Future in The City & the City by China Miéville  / N. Vallorani. - In: FICTIONS. - ISSN 1721-3673. - 20:(2021), pp. 71-81. [10.19272/202106901006]

From Marlowe to Borlú. Detecting the Future in The City & the City by China Miéville 

N. Vallorani
2021

Abstract

Inspector Tyador Borlú, of the Extreme Crime Squad, leads a double life in a double city, is proudly single, though intensely lonely, and oversees an investigation that fatally leads him to mix the professional and the personal, as happens in traditional hard-boiled narratives. What makes the difference is that he moves in an unfamiliar environment and that the setting is dystopian : an urban space made up of two overlapping cities (Besźel and Ul Qoma), located in an unspecified European area and defined by a state of permanent unrest between them, the root causes of which are mysterious. Borlú replicates some of the basic features of Chandler’s very successful detective, whilst moving in a totally alien setting. Built as a police procedural in a noir setting, China Miéville’s The City & the City shifts the story towards the future, and in so doing provides a radically novel version of the traditional formulae of the hard boiled and its typical protagonist. Through an analysis of the novel, the essay demonstrates the extent to which the ‘intermarriage’ between crime fiction and science fiction can produce a totally new brand of detective, whilst maintaining some of the basic formulae of the genre.
China Miéville; Science Fiction, City; Crime Fiction; Contamination
Settore L-LIN/10 - Letteratura Inglese
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/869709
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