Mimi of the Nowhere by Michael Kilman is a tale from a distant future where climate change has wreaked havoc on the Earth. Enormous walking cities roam across vast wastelands, dodging killer storms and occasionally battling with other walking cities. Mimi, a telepathic homeless woman living in the lower levels of the walking city of “Manhatsten,” is just struggling to survive when she makes a discovery that will change her life — and possibly the fate of the city.
This novel is definitely for a particular sci-fi audience that enjoys a hypertech setting full of walking cities, technological wonders that stave off the effects of aging and illness, powerful mech suits, and more. It’s not for a casual reader looking for a realistic tale about the future of climate change. On the flip side, it does insert a bit of climate change framing into the sort of post-apocalyptic tale that might otherwise just blame the sorry state of the world on “The War” or some other cataclysm.
One of my favorite things about this novel is the way that it explores the class divides within the city of Manhasten. The main character, Mimi, is essentially homeless. She has a small spot in the lower levels where she sleeps and stores some personal effects, but no actual home. The people on the upper levels are wealthy, and their wealth allows them to buy access to technological advancements that render them more or less immune to diseases and aging. This serves as a metaphor for the way in which wealth in real life buys the wealthy access to medical care and longer lifespans.
One big downside for me is that the novel didn’t actually do much to explore the climate change framing. This isn’t actually much of a downside if you’re just in the mood for some far-future tales of walking cities and mysterious telepaths and aren’t too concerned about climate change themes. But since I read almost exclusively climate fiction, I was left wanting more. Maybe future novels in the series will address the origins of this surreal “walking cities roaming across a desolate landscape” setting.
On the whole, I’d say that Mimi of the Nowhere was an interesting read. Since it doesn’t center around climate, I wouldn’t recommend it specifically for people who are looking for tales about what the world will be like when the world is ravaged by climate change. But if you have an interest in walking cities, sci-fi class critiques, telepathic secret societies, hypertech sci-fi novels centered or primarily around women characters, novels that reference the climate crisis tangentially, or all of the above, this is the novel for you.