The Man Who Bridged the Mist by Kij Johnson - Book Review

Write on: Sun, 31 Jan 2021 by  in Assaph's Reviews Read 4537

This novella won both Hugo and Nebula, a big distinction. I like to occasionally read what's the art-critics like in the genre, so delved in.

What to Expect

A short read where nothing much happens -- this is a story delving into the way progress changes people, as viewed through the interactions on an engineering project. It follows the lead architect over a five year span, completing a bridge across a mystical river, with some flashbacks to his youth. There isn't much drama, just small interactions of people going about their lives and dealing with each other, with loss, with life.

What I liked

The prose is gentle and charming, flowing well. The characters are engaging even through the short narrative.

The fantasy world, specifically the mist, is left unexplained. It is there to inspire a sense of awe at the strangeness of it, not to speculate on the effects of magic or setting on society and the world.

What to be aware of

As mentioned above, the conflict here is a muted, man-against-nature type. The interest lies in the character change and interactions, not in any sense of adventure.

Felix's Review

Felix only comment was that you'll get more bang for your time from Julius Frontinus' report on the maintenance of aqueducts -- he said this novella useful neither for engineers nor thrill seekers.


An interesting read, especially for authors who hear that they need more conflict in their works. Read this if you're in the mood for something literary.

Enjoying the reviews, but wondering who the heck is that Felix fellow? Glad you asked! He's the protagonist of the Togas, Daggers, and Magic series, an historical-fantasy blend of a paranormal detective on the background of ancient Rome.


Last modified on Sunday, 31 January 2021 00:16

Assaph has been a bibliophile since he learnt to read at the age of five, and a Romanophile ever since he first got his hands on Asterix, way back in elementary school. This exacerbated when his parents took him on a trip to Rome and Italy - he whinged horribly when they dragged him to "yet another church with baby angels on the ceiling", yet was happy to skip all day around ancient ruins and museums for Etruscan art. 

He has since been feeding his addiction for books with stories of mystery and fantasy of all kinds. A few years ago he randomly picked a copy of a Lindsay Davis' Marcus Didius Falco novel in a used book fair, and fell in love with Rome all over again, this time from the view-point of a cynical adult. His main influences in writing are Steven Saylor, Lindsey Davis, Barry Hughart and Boris Akunin. 

Assaph now lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, kids, cats, and - this being Australia - assorted spiders. By day he is a software product manager, bridging the gap between developers and users, and by night he's writing - he seems to do his best writing after midnight.



Twitter: @assaphmehr