Blackfish City

Blackfish City

A Novel

Book - 2018
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Baker & Taylor
When a climate-wars project involving the construction of a sophisticated floating city in the Arctic Circle begins to succumb to corruption and crime, the arrival of a woman riding an orca at the side of a polar-bear companion brings together four people to stage strategic acts of resistance.


&;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

Entertainment Weekly

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. 


& Taylor

When a climate-wars project involving the construction of a sophisticated floating city in the Arctic Circle begins to succumb to corruption and crime, the arrival of a woman riding an orca at the side of a polar-bear companion subtly brings together four marginalized people to stage strategic acts of resistance. By the award-winning author of the young-adult novel, The Art of Starving. 40,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Ecco Press, [2018]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062684820
Branch Call Number: Fiction Miller
Characteristics: pages cm


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Nominated for Best Novel

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Michael Colford Apr 06, 2020

When it comes to dystopian societies, Sam J. Miller sure has created something complex that borrows from pop culture, Inuit myth, capitalism and environmental collapse just to name a few! In fact, the rich threads that Miller weaves into <i>Blackfish City</i> threaten at first to overwhelm the story, making it difficult to breakthrough and stick with it. But perseverance is worthwhile, as the story of a family torn apart by genocide who unite to combat oppression (or maybe just to get revenge?) and at about the halfway mark, things start to really come together and race forward nicely.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of, and a lot of different storyline threads, as I mentioned, but most of them don't need all that much effort. A thread about an AIDS-like virus that is transmitted sexually, but involves communal memory and mental disjointedness sometimes feels like something from another story. Yet Miller manages to weave that thread smoothly into the larger tapestry.

Clearly the most compelling story for me, the bonding between man and beast as exemplified by the strange woman riding on the back of an orca, takes the longest to get its due, but once it does it does so beautifully. Still, with political corruption, organized crime, post-punk technology, climate change, gender identity and generational memory all added to the mix, there's probably something for everyone. Hopefully readers will not find that there is too much for everyone.

Nov 16, 2019

Set in a post-climate change apocalypse world on a platform city anchored in arctic waters, this Nebula-nominated novel is well-imagined and well-plotted, but I never warmed up to the characters, their dire histories and circumstances, or their perils.

Jun 02, 2019

In the hands of a good writer this could have been a timely, exciting book. Unfortunately, the poor storytelling constantly took me out of the story. A really shame, it had potential.

Mar 19, 2019

Nominated for Nebula Awards May 2019

JessicaGma Sep 06, 2018

A really interesting dystopian sci-fi tale of living high up in the Arctic in a strange built city called Qaanaaq. It reminded me a lot of Company Town in the sense that much of the city is in thrall to the rich, and there is such a wide gulf between the haves and have nots, but it's quite good as well. Definitely worth picking up.

Jun 29, 2018

Excellent, vividly written with a strong storyline carrying a commentary on gender politics and social criticism in a post-capitalist dystopia.


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