1. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    China Mieville

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by ManhattanMss, Sep 13, 2009.

    I've been seeing China Mieville's name pop up in various discussions and, although I'm not familiar with his work, the name kept ringing bells, and I just discovered he's the author of the short story I've been reading (now and again) from McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories. I read tidbits of these stories in between other things, and I've been very impressed with the short stories I've read in these particular (McSweeney's) anthologies. The title of this story is "Reports of Certain Events in London," and it was intriguing to me from the very beginning, because of the way it was pieced together. Having finally finished it, I can tell you, it's the first short story I've been immediately determined to revisit and try and understand how he's pieced the puzzle together in this very interesting way.

    Because it's a little hard to find the various places here where I've noticed his name mentioned before, I'd be delighted to hear from those of you Mieville fans what books or stories of his you think are especially good.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    *Squee!!!!!!*

    I love Mieville. I love him so much that the forum is tired of me talking about him. I think I have two more mentions of him and his work before I get a temporary banning.

    'Sorite. I'll take the risk.

    I've read his Bas Lag series and it is quite satisfying to say the least. Deliciously heavy, dark, and sumptuous in its manner of prose. Like a New York City brownstone decorated to the nines in the very best NYC American Empire style.

    Weird Fiction is my new passion and Mieville is one of the shinning lights in its firmament.
     
  3. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Thank you, thank you Wreybies, for braving the waters to give me a glimpse into your enthusiasm for Mieville. I'm sure I'd love anything that's "Like a New York City brownstone decorated to the nines in the very best NYC American Empire style." Even from the little glimpse of Mieville I've read, I can easily see where you're coming from.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Now that my initial giddiness has passed that someone has asked about Mieville...


    Should you choose to pick up the first in the Bas Lag series, Perdido Street Station, be prepared to be unprepared. It took me a bit to get into it, but after a few pages I was laying back against the red Chinese silk as someone - I can’t remember who but she had the most remarkable porcelain skin - gently laid the opium pipe to my lips.

    The very first thing Mieville asks of you, like a comely lover bidding you to help him warm the sheets, is to find beauty and desire in a woman who has a scarab beetle for a head. No, no. Not the head of a scarab beetle. An anatomically complete, if huge, scarab beetle for a head. Head, thorax, wing casing, legs, the works. That is her head. She is a khepri, named for the Egyptian goddess who also sported a complete scarab beetle for a cranial skeleton.

    Now, allow me to inform you that my proclivities lie toward the male of the species (human, not khepri), so a female with a bug for a head was very much a stretch for me.

    The first chapter left me flushed.

    That is all I will say.
     
  5. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Oooooh! A little Kafka in the mix? I'll get back to you once I've read it!
     
  6. Mystery Meat
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    I second Wreybies' emotion - to a point.

    Mieville is the master of the 'New Weird', that bastard-son of Fantasy that kicks the dwarfs in their stones, locks Elves away in chains of cold iron and shakes it's fists behind the backs of wizards. Perdido Street Station and it's "sequels" are very, very good, if a little tricky for their own good at times.

    However I cannot suggest his latest (?) work unLunDun. It just didn't do it for me as it seemed a little simple and aimed at a youth market recently abandoned by Ms Rowling.
     
  7. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Hi, Mystery--

    Thanks for your pointers on Mieville. I'm definitely going to have to follow up on other stuff that he's written. When I saw he had authored KING RAT, I was really confused, because I thought that was a Clavelle book (and there is one, as well). I also remember a really good movie about a homeless guy that was awfully good, which I kind of thought might've been entitled KING RAT (with Dustin Hoffman or somebody--I'm not good remembering movies and actors), but I know Clavelle was a screenwriter, too, so I'm getting all these things all mushed together somehow.

    What intrigued me most about the short story I read was Mieville's capacity to imagine a story with a ton of carefully crafted reality-distortion--albeit explainable in a fantastical way. Kind of a mixture of Murakami-like blatant surreality in the midst of a real-life setting, with a distinct dark side that includes some Kafkaesque mind-twisting that (unlike Kafka) resolves itself, much like a dark little puzzle.

    Anyway, I'm really curious to read more of his work.
     
  8. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This thread made me go and rummage through my book closet (yes, I have a book closet) only to remember that I have lent
    out my copy of PSS to a friend who I am quite sure flipped carelessly through the first few pages and thought to
    himself, "Hmm. Bug-head lady -(chucks book over left shoulder)- Next!"

    So I purchased and downloaded an electronic copy of PSS to enjoy yet one more time.

    Should you manage to find your way out of the dank and fetid maze that is the streets of New Crobuzon, then I would entreat you to also give a try to M. John Harrison. Also working within the world of Weird Fiction, but Harrison is a horse of a different splendid color. His book, Light made me giddy.
     
  9. ManhattanMss
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    It's funny, but when I googled "weird fiction," I noted several authors and stories I thought I might enjoy reading (all recommended by Mieville). Especially so, since my all-time-favorite basic classic is Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (which he noted, as well). So, there's definitely an emerging affinity.
     
  10. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    How I found Harrison was actually a bit spooky. I had just finished Mieville's Iron Council and found myself bookless, so off the the Borders I took myself. I picked up Light in one of those, "Hm, this looks interesting," moments and opened to the middle as I always do to read a page or two of the story once the author has gotten her/his stride and thought, "Mathematics as living creature. You have my interest, Mr. Harrison." I flipped to the back cover to see if the author had any street cred and there was Mieville's gushing schoolboy crush endorsement of Mr. Harrison.

    A chill ran down my back as destiny's cool hand guided me toward the cash register. :rolleyes:
     
  11. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    And so, methinks you've partaken generously of the Mieville fictional adventures in realityland.
     
  12. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Is that not the purpose of a good piece of fiction? To add new colors to the crayon pack of life? ;)
     
  13. ManhattanMss
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    Youbetcha!
     
  14. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Harrison, like Mieville, has a very unique style and pace of prose. Both of them remind me much of Samuel R Delany. My first read of Delany’s Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand was a chore. It was like reading something in a foreign language though the words and syntax were clearly English. Again and again I tried to make Delany’s prose fit the pace and comfort zone of my inner voice. It was only when I let go and just read the book as the author had written it that I was treated to the genius that is Delany.

    His work was not lacking. It was a cornucopia of richness and texture and verbal sensuality. It was I who was falling short and had something to learn.

    Unknown unknowns were being made known to me. As a writer, that book was a gift to me from a higher power.
     

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