City of the Iron Fish (1994)


My second novel, written in a brothel in Oporto, on the run from my reputation as a cyberpunk writer.

“In its curious juxtaposition of the ceremonial and the mundane, railways and wheeled sailing vessels, cafes and whore-houses, City of the Iron Fish is disconcerting, funny and occasionally horrifying, a dark fantastic comedy of the baroque and burlesque.”
Vector, August/September 1994

“Ings’s explorations of how the various arts of painting, drawing, poetry, sculpture, opera, drama and even sex theatre try to invest meaning in a world that sustains none of its own are provocative and intelligent. City of the Iron Fish is a rare treat.”
Locus, December 1994

This is a place where all forms of artistic expression feed on each other and the past, constantly repeating and vainly striving. I found this to be a deeply strange book, and I was impressed that the author did not try to explain. Somehow it all worked better to read of Kemp’s life as he lived it, without knowing these things, and stumbling along in this strange world without a map. His passions, confusion, pain and everyday life are laid out to see, and even an evening’s drunken debauch has a ring of truth to it that is very appealing.
Novel Reflections