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Three Moments of an Explosion

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  2,935 ratings  ·  528 reviews
London awakes one morning to find itself besieged by a sky full of floating icebergs. Destroyed oil rigs, mysteriously reborn, clamber from the sea and onto the land, driven by an obscure but violent purpose. An anatomy student cuts open a cadaver to discover impossibly intricate designs carved into a corpse's bones—designs clearly present from birth, bearing mute testimon ...more
Hardcover, 382 pages
Published August 4th 2015 by Del Rey (first published June 18th 2015)
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Jun 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: weird
First things first: I need to mention I received this book from Goodreads giveaways.

There are popular writers and there are good writers. These two while intersecting are not equal. For this reason I avoided reading China Miéville before.

I have a feeling like I attend a high-class cocktail evening party, the one where the ladies wear evening dresses, the gentlemen wear tuxedos, and the waiters with trays full of cocktail glasses navigate through the crowd of guests.
a high-class party
Suddenly I say aloud someth
Althea Ann
Aug 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing

**** Three Moments of an Explosion
The title story here is a brief piece - but it's got a lot in its few pages: original and weird science-fictional ideas, and a beautifully conjured sense of angst at the zeitgeist.
It reminded me of an incident when I was a child: my father took me to see the controlled demolition of a building. The charges were set wrong, and instead of the whole building falling to dust, it only pancaked in one floor. The crowd milled around with a sense of dissatisfaction and
Oct 10, 2015 rated it liked it
China Miéville is my Exhibit A that not all great novel writers make great short story writers. The best stories in the collection ("In the Slopes, the horrifying "Säcken" and "Keep") are all 30+ pages which seems to be the minimum amount China needs to really get his craft going. Many of the pieces under ten pages fell flat for me, and the nearly flash-fiction 3 pages and less offerings didn't work at all.

Finishing this book reminded me again of my major crush on Brian Evenson and how he has th
Jul 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
“When any civilization is dust and ashes," he said, "art is all that's left over. Images, words, music. Imaginative structures. Meaning—human meaning, that is—is defined by them."
-- Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake


Maybe even 4.5 stars. I really liked this collection. Some of the stories I loved. Adored even. Some were too light. Some extremely dense. But none were uninteresting.

Many SF/horror/noir writers get funky by bending the plot. Miéville does it by bending his words. He alters reality by
Fuchsia  Groan
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
El estilo de Miéville se adapta de maravilla al formato corto. Disfruto más con sus novelas, pero sumergirte de pronto en uno de sus mundos, ver en pocas páginas las imágenes que pasan por su portentosa imaginación, atisbar historias y argumentos sumamente estimulantes es un lujo (en ocasiones quizás también un desperdicio, algunos podrían ser una maravillosa novela).

Es increíble cómo mezcla géneros en casi todos, creando prácticamente uno nuevo en sí mismo: fantasía, ciencia ficción, terror (f
Sep 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
She felt her heart speeding as she went through these motions, not expecting to understand more but desperate to do so, here in what she could feel through her skin was a locus. She was an antigen here, perhaps. She was something.

The citation reveals it all. These exercises didn't work for me. They were not images or examples but miniatures, tiny plots -- in both senses. There were a few stories which I did admire. The story Polynia is one, the next few sentences contain SPOILERS.

So, icebergs ha
Aug 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: weird, short-stories
Having only read Perdido Street Station(which I loved) I wasn't completely sold on shorts by Miéville but I ended up really enjoying this collection. A decent variety of types; weird, fantastic, and horror. Three or four stories missed me completely but in a collection of 28 stories that's a pretty low miss rate. Most of the rest were good to great but I will highlight a few that I thought were outstanding.

In The Slopes-two groups of archeologists and the strange artifacts they are recovering.

Jan 22, 2016 marked it as did-not-finish
I'm not sure when, or even if, I'll come back to this (I was so disappointed), so a few jottings on the first seven stories (a quarter of the collection), then others, as and when I dip in:

Three Moments of an Explosion

A disused building is demolished. This is described from three perspectives: as a marketing opportunity, for thrill-seekers, and the aftermath of memories.


Icebergs over London. When I discovered "polynia" was a real word, I wondered if Mieville had been looking for a new p-w
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
I have greatly enjoyed some of Mieville's books, while others not so much. I am sorry to say, in this case, it is not so much. This is a collection of short stories; some of the stories are science fiction-like, some are fantasy, and some are just weird. My very favorite story is about a psycho-therapist who will go to any lengths for her patients. No spoilers her, but the story had some real plot-twisters. I also enjoyed the story about the icebergs floating above the city; it is just so weird, ...more
NB: While reading this book I wrote up my thoughts about each of the 28 stories in detail, which you can read on my blog starting here. In those posts I describe the premise of each story, as well as giving my thoughts, but rest assured there are no major spoilers to be found.

It's easy to see why China Miéville took three years to release a new book after Railsea. Apart from a monthly comic series, he was beavering away on a huge variety of novelettes, short stories, and pieces of flash fiction.
Jun 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
In the world of Three Moments of an Explosion, strange things happen, sometimes publicly (icebergs floating above London [Polynia], oil derricks walking ashore [Covehithe]) but most often privately, secretly. The protagonist and the reader struggle to understand what is going on, but ultimately fail. Although this is undoubtedly the author’s intention, it is deliberately perverse. Significant characters simply disappear from the narrative; stories end without resolution. Without resolution, tens ...more
Jun 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unfinished, fantasy
Meh. I really liked Mieville's novel "The city and the city," and kind of hoped his short stories might be as good. I'm very forgiving of fantasy as a genre -- all you really need to do is have interesting ideas like Borges, or create compelling characters like Poul Anderson, or come up with funny and horrifying scenarios like Fritz Leiber. Hell, a unique voice, like Eddison or Vance, can be enough. Mieville's stories here though don't really accomplish much of anything. I thought he was being o ...more
Evan Leach
Three Moments of an Explosion is Miéville’s second collection of short stories. At 400 pages and 28 stories, readers are certainly getting their money’s worth. This is a solid set of stories that displays most of Miéville’s gifts: strong prose, imaginative, highly creative ideas, and the ability to work within a number of different genres. Three stories in particular stood out:

The Dowager of Bees – In an alternate reality, card players occasionally draw mystery cards with strange values and suit
May 27, 2015 rated it liked it
There are twenty-eight stories, in this new collection, of varying styles and lengths. Most are unsettling, many are impenetrable and a few are flat out terrific. Creepy, strange, inventive and baffling. This is exactly what you would expect from Mieville. I have mixed feelings about his work. I end up admiring him more than truly loving his cool, detached, intelligence.
Several of these stories have an environmental slant. The earth in retaliation. I do like this approach and would like to see m
Wart Hill
This collection really showcases Mieville's wide range of subject matter, style, and just his talent in general. Definitely a good read. I recommend not reading "Rabbet" too close to bed...
China Mieville is an author that’s hard to categorize, as his stories often escape or defy comfortable genre classification. He is one of the forerunners of the New Weird movement, which should tell you a lot; he writes weird fiction, a blend of the improbable and the impossible with a chilling bite. He’s also damn good at his job, one of the powerhouses of genre fiction today with a slew of top-shelf novels to his name. He’s not as well known for his short fiction, though he has written pieces ...more
Charles Dee Mitchell

China Miéville is both a proponent and practitioner of New Weird writing. Some of you are probably ready to quit reading at this point. “New Weird” is a term that can seem both vague and unnecessary. Weird writing has its canon revolving around H.P Lovecraft and company with their themes of ancient evil and cosmic terror. Defining a new variety of weirdness can come down to a long list of writers who to greater or lesser degrees produce it – whatever exactly it is. Is it just a more explicit, vi
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
This was weird and confusing...
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: menace, mystery
These stories all incorporate a strange and nearly-addictive nightmarish dimension to otherwise familiar and prosaic situations. I say “nearly” because, although some were pretty arresting, many failed to grab my attention and had me falling asleep part-way through – no mean feat as some of these 28 short stories are really short. Some of the better ones:

In the sky above London, icebergs start to mass like clouds before a storm. But what’s remarkable is that people are only weirded-out for a sh
I've been meandering through China Miéville's Three Moments of an Explosion for almost six-months, picking it up at leisure, reading a few stories then putting it down. I think it would be hard to take in the density of these works in one sitting - it's better to dip in and out, leaving time to process the work. It is a thematic exploration of the disruption of status quo - each story is a miniature explosion, a moment of wonder and passing. Those familiar with weird fiction will see the element ...more
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
Collection of shorts. Not really his best medium. Noteworthy:

The floating icebergs were kinda cool (‘Polynia’). The text regarding ‘new death’ is conceptually interesting, but not much narrative. ‘Dowager of Bees’ is pynchonian in its insistence on secrecy among ordinary things. ‘In the Slopes’ has an HPL feel, archaeologists unearthing things. ‘Watching God’ builds up a grammar of passing ships, which is pregnant. ‘The Rope is the World’ is a post-Fountains of Paradise meditation on a space el
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite authors and always a joy. I did end up skimming a few less interesting stories in this collection, but I was especially fond of the early "Polynia" story about icebergs drifting over a city. My surprise favorites were the 3(?) shorter "Movie Trailer" pieces. Deliciously weird and/or downright creepy. The entire collection is, of course, suffused with Miéville's usual humor.
Sep 18, 2015 marked it as to-read
This copy is an Advanced Uncorrected Proof.
Alex G
Apr 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Rated 3 out of ambivalence. Half the stories (mostly the newest ones) are excellent, yet I find the other half absolutely horrible. First thing I've read by Miéville and this leaves me still unsure if I want to read a lot more or not.
Although I’m not an avid reader of short story collections (except those by Borges), I’ve read enough to know that the best story is usually the first. Imagine my surprise, then, to find that here my favourite was the last, ‘The Design’. The majority of the stories had an arresting, suitably weird conceit, however the final one also had a beauty to it and a distinctive, measured voice that wasn’t trying to scare the reader. Quite a few of the other stories, though, notably ‘Säcken’ and ‘The Rabb ...more
P. Kirby
China Mieville is the master of bizarre and uncanny ideas. It's like his brain is a compendium of the weird and eldritch, the freakish and unexplained.

What he isn't the master of is taking those ideas to any kind of narrative completion. Three Moments of Explosion is filled with loads of eerie and peculiar things, stuff that exists in the corner of your eyesight, or for the lucky, or unlucky, right in plain sight. Crazy-ass shit like airborne icebergs, hidden suits in a deck of cards, and perver
Aug 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
China Mieville's new collection is flat-out brilliant. High lit, new weird, old weird, SF, political, creepy stories, touching stories, angry stories, an awe-inspiring range of of 28 stories that never forget to be human. Highlights include "Polynia" (ice bergs appear in the skies above London), "The Dowager of Bees" (a weird-boiled, playful and visionary poker-playing noir), "The Rope is the World," the terrifying "Sacken" (which reminded me of a present day version of the film SAUNA) and the f ...more
Apr 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
This was originally published at The Scrying Orb.

Want to read about sinister icebergs appearing afloat in the skies of London? It’s here. Long ago sunk ships forging legs and shambling out of the ocean? Got that too. Socialist dust particles out to radicalize your world? Read all about it. People obsessed with wearing hollowed out, decaying animal heads? Yep.

China Mieville has mastered the weird, the bizarre, the monstrous joke. A story about a terror lurking in the depths of a remote lake is no
Mar 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Of all contemporary English writers, it is of China Mieville's talents that I am most insanely, and justifiably, jealous. Not only can this young upstart create 800-page novels set in imagined worlds which are utterly surreal yet internally consistent, passing strange and dreamlike yet relevant to the most fundamental human concerns, exciting, funny, engaging and rendered in sparkling poetic style - but he can pull off the same achievements, 28 times in succession, through this collection of sta ...more
Jan 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
I purchased a signed/numbered edition. This will be my first book from this author.

Two things before I begin my review:

1. I love short story collections. Regardless if they are from the same author, or part of a themed collection, or even a collection of favorite stories than an editor picked out. I enjoy them. They're a good way to discover new authors, and a great way to test drive authors you aren't familiar with.

2. I've never read anything by China Miéville before. He's an author whose name
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Madison Mega-Mara...: #103 Three Moments of an Explosion by China Miéville 1 1 Dec 09, 2018 03:44PM  
Miévillians: The Bastard Prompt 7 38 Jan 22, 2018 03:25PM  
Miévillians: The Dowager Of Bees and In The Slopes 20 92 Mar 22, 2017 03:23AM  
Miévillians: The 9th Technique and The Rope is the World 7 27 Feb 27, 2016 02:43AM  
Miévillians: Rules 4 16 Jan 27, 2016 01:43AM  
Miévillians: Estate 2 8 Jan 26, 2016 01:48PM  
Miévillians: A Second Slice Manifesto and Covehithe 2 11 Jan 26, 2016 01:33PM  
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“Lists make magic, the rhythm of itemised words: you do not list ten techniques, numbered and chantable, in austere prose appropriate for some early-millennium rebooted Book of Thoth, and not know that you have written an incantation.” 2 likes
“Only humans dread. Dread is appropriate to nothing. It’s the surplus of animal fear, it’s never indicated, it’s nothing but itself.” 2 likes
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