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Three Moments of an Explosion

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  3,724 ratings  ·  660 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 December 21st 2009)
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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 ·  3,724 ratings  ·  660 reviews

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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
This used to be my super old review of the short story ‘Covehithe’ which I read on The Guardian website. Edit: also my review of ‘The Rope is the World’ used to exist. But through the strange obsession of whoever on Goodreads is in charge of this, both have been moved to this wonderful short story collection by Mieville which I also read which deleted one of them. Good thing I backed up my old reviews back in 2013.

So this review is for ‘Covehithe’ and The Rope is the World’ only. And if you have
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
Oct 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Only China Mieville can write a story as hauntingly beautiful and strange as "Covehithe". It is a short 11 pages and worth the investment; any additional info about the story that I could tell here has the possibility of revealing too much. If you're a China fan, you'll revel in another tale from his amazing brain. If this is the first thing you've read of his, be prepared to possibly declare "WTF?" several times, including at the ending. An ending that made me wish this were a longer story...

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
May 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: lunchtime readers
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: Nataliya
Shelves: read-in-2012
A story of petrochemical romance. Oil rigs rut like charging metal leviathans in an undersea world and rise to the surface to drill leathery oil sacks of riglet eggs into the foresaken shores of a crumbling and vaguely dystopian Sussex.

This is my first short lit-date with China Mieville and I have to say that I liked it. The idea of such obviously man-made structures - crude and massive in their industrial purpose, evolving to become something almost organic and likeable is an exceptional idea.
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
Richard Derus
May 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Rating: 3.75* of five

The Book Report: Eerie doins on the North Sea coast of England, to do with the detritus of the petrochemical rape of the planet. The Day of Reckoning has come, in true China Miéville fashion, from the single least anticipated quarter.

My Review: Shovelmonkey1, that minx, recommended this Miévilleiciousness to me. It and its implications will prevent me from sleeping tonight. It's scary, for one, but I can sleep through nerves. It's envy-inducingly wonderfully written, but I'v
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
Aug 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories, weird
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.

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
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: die-hard,completionist Mieville fans
China Mieville's novels and me: a match made in heaven.
China Mieville's short stories and me: opposite poles.

I honestly could not connect with most of the stories. Or even fascinated with the weird ideas and grandiose vocabs coming out of some of them. Sure, there were some enjoyable ones, but the overall experience was not pleasant.

Confusion, feeling stupid, dissatisfaction, eagerness to get to the last page; pretty much what I felt while reading this book. My friends know I worship the ground
Jun 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, unfinished
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
Althea Ann
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 worry...
Although the building here collapses fully, and th
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
Z. F.
If I had the energy I'd pull a clever, Miéville-esque maneuver and review this collection twice: first praising it effusively, then picking it to shreds. Instead I'm taking the Borges approach by telling you about the thing I could write but don't actually want to. The Borges approach is easier, quite frankly.

The reason I'm tempted to write two reviews is because I'm very much of two minds about this book, my first ever by Miéville. Reading the first few stories it felt like love. Miéville is so
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... ...more
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
This was weird and confusing...
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
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
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. ...more
Sep 18, 2015 marked it as to-read
This copy is an Advanced Uncorrected Proof.
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
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
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
May 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
You may think his prose is as heavy as an anvil. Or that he uses lots of big words to show off. But one thing you cannot deny is that China Miéville has one hell of a remarkable imagination.
This short story is just an example. This guy's writing is so distinctive as to be nearly unique. I think he could write a menu and make it interesting. The more I read of him the more convinced I am of his talent. And vote China for the 2012 Hugo! This concludes this public service announcement.
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. ...more
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A British "fantastic fiction" writer. He is fond of describing his work as "weird fiction" (after early 20th century pulp and horror writers such as H. P. Lovecraft), and belongs to a loose group of writers sometimes called New Weird who consciously attempt to move fantasy away from commercial, genre clichés of Tolkien epigons. He is also active in left-wing politics as a member of the Socialist W ...more

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