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This is one of the best fantasy stories I've read in a long time.  A tale without much conflict or violence, Johnson's story is a biographical tale of Kit Meinam, a bridge-engineer; and also of Rasali and Valo Ferry, whose lives are immeasurably changed by coming into contact with Kit.  The story has a simple plot; Kit is commissioned by Empire (which never has an article attached) to build a bridge over a river which has mist - a sort of corrosive gas that can be sculled across in an appropriately built boat, and that is inhabited by fish both predator and prey of mankind.  In so doing he changes the lives of everyone in Nearside and Farside, two towns on opposite sides of the river, and especially of the Ferrys, whose livelihood, as their name tells one, is in ferrying people across the river.

The novella is a beautiful, evocative and powerful exploration of its theme; the degree to which it pitches itself perfectly on the ideas and concepts as well as strong character-work is amazing, the combination balanced on a knife-edge that Johnson controls masterfully.  The Man Who Bridged The Mist is reminiscent of what I'm told K. J. Parker's work is like (I'll be finding out later in summer); concerned with people and with ideas, using analogy as a commentary on reality, using fantasy as a way to explore issues and provoke thoughts that "realist" fiction cannot address except head-on.  This really is a demonstration of genre fiction as the genre of ideas, and beautifully-written and beautifully undertaken ideas at that; an amazing little piece of work.

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the_corbie
Jul. 10th, 2012 07:43 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed this story. My favourite of the novella category. But whoever told you this is like a KJ Parker novel is in danger of seriously misleading you. I've only read Parker's first trilogy, but it is nothing like this. The only resemblance is a fondness for technical details.

Parker's stuff is much more interested in violence of all sorts, not particularly good at depicting human relationships or relatable characters, and about a hundred times blacker and more nihilistic.
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reading, books
libris_leonis
Daniel Franklin

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