China Miéville tends to write about cities, and The last days of new Paris is no exception. Even though the city is an existing one, the book is much more fantastic that the City and the City, with many ideas from the Bas-Lag world: mixture of technology and magic, super-natural weapons of mass destruction.
The twist in this case is literally surrealist: in 1941 the content of surrealist manifests manifested themselves in Paris. In 1950 the nazis assisted by demons are still fighting them in a desolated and isolated city. The story narration follows both timelines: in 1941 with the origin of the S-blast, and in 1950, following a resistance fighter in the devastated city.
The book is short: the story itself is 168 pages in a large font, followed by a strange 11 pages afterword, finally there are 20 pages of notes, mostly presentation of the surrealist artworks that inspired the book. The afterword feels like a weak tentative to anchor the story and is quite formulaic. The notes feel very superfluous, I really did not feel like reading a list of surrealist art-works that are evoked in the story. If the author added some fake art-works to the list, who would notice? Would it not be some kind of statement?
I found the story very interesting, if weird. One recurring problem I have with China Miéville’s character is that they often feel very abstract and I have trouble connecting with them. This was less of a problem in this novel, maybe because of its short length. All in all, this is a book I can recommend.