Bas-Lag Wiki

"Jack" is a short story in the collection Looking for Jake. It discusses the rise and fall of New Crobuzon revolutionary Jack Half-a-Prayer through eyes of someone who knew him well.

Plot Summary[]

The unnamed narrator discusses the origins and societal impact of Jack Half-a-Prayer, from his arrest and sentencing to the unintended benefits of his remaking and his leadership of the fReemade. The story concludes with the narrator recounting the underwhelming circumstances of Jack's capture by the New Crobuzon Militia, the attempted public humiliation of Jack by the government and his subsequent mercy-killing by an unknown gunman, and the fate of the man who ratted him out.

At the end of the story, the narrator is revealed to be one of the New Crobuzon orderlies who assisted the Bio-thaumaturge with Jack's original remaking and later, the remaking of the criminal, who had ratted out Jack in the hopes of getting his sentence commuted.

The narrator sincerely thanks Jack Half-a-Prayer for providing a focal point for the city's potential rebels to place their hope in. In doing so, he provided a relief valve for anger and dissatisfaction that would otherwise lead to a true, government-threatening insurrection. The narrator then recounts how he exacted revenge on the 'traitor' who outed Jack.


China Miéville's novels and other works
The Bas-Lag Cycle

Perdido Street Station · The Scar · Iron council · "Jack"

Other novels

The City & the City · Embassytown · King Rat · Kraken · Railsea · Un Lun Dun


The Last Days of New Paris · This Census-Taker · The Tain

Short story collections

The Apology Chapbook · Looking for Jake · Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories


October: The Story of the Russian Revolution