The Night Mayor Critical Essays

Kim Newman


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The novel implies, first, that Dreams are popular because they provide an escape from a grim present and, second, that Dreams are a potent form of thought control. Although the characters are immersed in the City for most of the novel, the reader catches ominous glimpses of the dystopia created by Iggdrasil, named after the World Tree of Nordic myth. In this future England, people invoke Iggdrasil’s name as if it were that of God. The plot turns on the need to dismantle Daine’s Dream before it alters reality, but as Tunney observes, the City “wasn’t so much worse than the world.”

As in Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange (1962), futuristic slang renders familiar and homey the violence of a repressive society. People who are killed are “remaindered.” Ever-present “andrews” (androids) provide “security.” One of the novel’s most telling images is a “farm” over which Bishopric flies on the way to Princetown Prison. The airship frightens a cow, a mountain of meat with a tiny head. It falls over and needs the assistance of the “farmer’s” robotic prosthesis to right itself. Not even the country provides an escape from the grim urban landscape.

In the pursuit of the master criminal played out in “the City,” Kim Newman playfully contrasts “real life” with film conventions. To anyone familiar with film noir and other genre films of the 1940’s and 1950’s, The Night Mayor is a...

(The entire section is 510 words.)