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China Miéville: Monsters, old buildings and tentacles - The Ex-Communicator

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February 24th, 2011


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10:55 am - China Miéville: Monsters, old buildings and tentacles
I went to see a Warwick Writers interview with China Miéville last night. He read an extract from his soon-to-be-published novel, Embassy Town. It's a more typical SF story than he has done before. It seems to be set on a human enclave inside a forcefield on a poisonous alien world. The pov character is a little girl, and I think that's a good choice, because he needs to soften the emotion a little.

He came across as highly intelligent. He was controlled and precise in what he said. The interviewer was - kind of young and annoying. It amused me at one point he quoted the new book, a mention of 'inhuman geometries' and asked if that might be a reference to (looks at bit of paper) 'Lovecraft'? As if he didn't know the name. Mieville was friendly and not put out.

He said that the next book he is planning to write will be a Regency-era romance, and he's started to read that genre in preparation. I think it may be a kind of Steam-Punk, or I guess it would be Satanic-Mill-Punk. If he is going to write in that era he really must develop the echoes of William Blake we already find in his work. Cool! New genre!

I think there is a strand of Marxism and Socialism which is idealist rather than materialist, sprung from Hegel and Blake rather than Engels. This is where I find myself really. The world itself is transformational and holy. I think if he is going to orient himself in this place it will strengthen his work, if he feels less embarrassed about being non-materialist. He said that the three things which always come into his mind unbidden are 'Monsters, old buildings, and tentacles.'

Incidentally it's because I am reading his Kraken at the moment that Jesse and Walt found themselves making out like tentacles in the slash story I just wrote.

He was also talking about how it is impossible to imagine ourselves in a fully transformed state, and so his work tends to be trapped in the days before the revolution. Someone asked him if in any of his stories the proletariat would ever win, and he said he was not sure he could ever write it, but he found writers like Le Guin 'Sympatico', and he did not believe that transformation of society was doomed to fail.

In fact name-checked all the authors I would have thought - Lovecraft of course, M John Harrison, Iain Banks (on the contrast between politics within a work, and in the deployment of the work), Le Guin, Conrad. I might have expected something on psychogeography, Ian Sinclair, which he didn't get to at all. But there was nothing he said that surprised me, overturned any expectation. I think only I was struck that he was conscious and confident in his overall project.

And I just have to say (sorry to be so shallow) - he has got even more handsome lately - the wikipedia pic is up to date.

(4 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:espresso_addict
Date:February 24th, 2011 11:40 am (UTC)
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I have to admit I've never read any of his stuff -- what do you recommend? Steam punk Regency romance sounds fabulous.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:February 24th, 2011 11:57 am (UTC)
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I don't think anything he has done up to now is in that vein at all. The one I like best is The City and The City, but I didn't like it when I first read it. I just came to feel it was expressing something important. I've got that loaned out to a prof friend, but I will see if I can dig our his fantasy novel Perdido Street Station and lend it to you this weekend.
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From:tehomet
Date:February 24th, 2011 12:51 pm (UTC)
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He sounds interesting. I must keep an eye out for him.

Perhaps literally, on consideration of that wikipedia photograph. :)
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:February 24th, 2011 01:48 pm (UTC)
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I think he's interesting; I think he's not quite my thing, but perhaps his recent stuff I find more rewarding.

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