BUT..what I really wanted to post for, after all this time, was to finally convey what I've always meant to. I was never sure I was doing it right. Fortunately, now I don't have to. My new favoritestestest author (and a popular one in my particular circle, of late) has done it for me.
This is China Mieville's Looking For Jake. Evidently there's a novel version due out soon. It's not Bas-Lag, but it doesn't need to be. Anyway, here we go: