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KRAKEN > Kraken: Welcome & Part 1 Chapters 1-9

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message 1: by Traveller (last edited Nov 07, 2014 01:51PM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Welcome everyone! Not very much spoiler-ish happens in the first 9 chapters, so I thought it would be okay to combine our usual initial greetings with the first 9 chapters to get our initial "feel" of the book. :)

I really enjoyed the nerdy feel of the first few chapters of the book, hoping that this would perhaps be a more sophisticated, witty work, and there certainly is evidence of that in the first few chapters.

We'd have to see if that will hold true of the entire book, though!


message 2: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments So, what do the rest of you think about the way the book starts off? Did you also enjoy all the nerd-face in-joking?


message 3: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 266 comments I will be starting it soon, don't feel abandoned.


message 4: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments I do feel rather lonely in here... boo-hoo...


message 5: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 266 comments You are so cute when your eyes redden up. :)


message 6: by Nataliya (new)

Nataliya | 378 comments Well, somehow I'm baffled to find myself reading 'Kraken' again despite the initial disappointment of a couple of years ago. Such us the peer pressure ;)

I must say, the beginning of this story is quite awesome, making me excited despite all the preexisting reservations, making me almost forget my lukewarm feelings towards this book.

The formula that I love is there, alright. The city and the suggestion of it's not-quite-conventional underbelly. The dorky out-of-place clueless hero. The gods made by people and therefore powerful through our own intent.
"Alright now. Who was it made you? You know what to say.
Who made you?"
The first chapter was brilliant. The introduction, the easy narrative, the immediate unease of suspense - I simply loved it! But Billy - I still don't love him, I find him devoid of much personality and little more than our 'eyes' into the story. Dane Parnell on the other hand - I still want him at the forefront of the story. But Billy - he still remains a watered-down version of Gaiman's Richard Mayhew from 'Neverwhere'. Collingswood seems more interesting this time - her in-your-face gruffness is interesting to read about. Somehow she did not impress me much the first time around.

A thought - maybe it's my inner landlubber prejudice, but I just don't get the awe and appeal of a giant squid. Moby-Dick - sure. Even the giant mole rats creatures from 'Railsea' would do. But giant calamari? Beats me.

Mieville's writing is a bit different in this book. It's lighter, simpler, easier to digest. It smells of fun. It flows at a higher speed than his other books. So far I think I like it.


message 7: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Thanks for setting our ship a-sail, Nataliya! I guess I was feeling a bit despondent due to the apparent lack of interest around here. :P

Well, regarding Billy: I took an instant liking to him in the first few chapters; I suppose because I could identify with him pretty strongly.

I haven't read enough to latch onto Dane enough yet, I suppose.

Collingswood is indeed an interesting character; I just wish she wouldn't smoke so much. :P

I found Subby and Goss and the place they take Billy to a bit over the top; I was hoping this novel was going to be rather more subtle than the Bas-lag novels.

Regarding the squid as deity, I found that to be quite funny, a sort of poking fun at the Cthulhu mythos as well as poking fun at cults in general.


message 8: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Oh! ...and I almost forgot I had wanted to ask you people what you think of the FSRC. (Baron, Vardy and Collingswood's outfit.) At times I couldn't help mistrusting them... and what a whacky department for a police force to have.
But not a bad idea, actually.


message 9: by Nataliya (new)

Nataliya | 378 comments I'm afraid to lose my geeky-nerdy-dorky points by admitting that I haven't even heard of Cthulhu until a few years ago when I ventured over to the Suvudu cage match thingy. I still have no idea whether and how that name can possibly be pronounced.

I do like the descriptions of cults in this book. I like how CM captures both dangerous and ridiculous nature of them.

As for Collingswood smoking - maybe her magical powers can ward off lung cancer? She seems a clever take on the gruff detective that would normally be present in a book of this sort.

Subby and Goss to me will always be Croup and Vandemar from 'Neverwhere'. Now I wonder whether 'Kraken' was in part an 'official' homage to Gaiman's book. I think I read somewhere that it indeed was.


message 10: by Nataliya (new)

Nataliya | 378 comments Traveller wrote: "Oh! ...and I almost forgot I had wanted to ask you people what you think of the FSRC. (Baron, Vardy and Collingswood's outfit.) At times I couldn't help mistrusting them... and what a whacky depa..."

FSRC? Love the idea! Reminds me of a later creation of The a Folly in Ben Aaronovich's 'Rivers of London' series - but without the adorable stiff-upper-lip cuteness of the latter. It seems like a perfectly logical department for the police force in London that CM shows us in this book. You just wait until the strike and the picket lines ;)


message 11: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Ok, that's it. Now I really must knuckle down and read Neverwhere. :P


message 12: by Allen (new)

Allen (allenblair) | 227 comments I read Kraken, then Neverwhere so Croup and Vandemar will always be Subby and Goss for me ... But the evil duo creation (either author really) is what hooked me. And their language is spot-on Mieville fearless banter with a kind of evil coolness. For some reason I shuddered every time they uttered.

As for Billy, he always seemed to get in the way while Dane was the person I wanted to know - would like to walk a while in the halls of his mind kind of character. In a way he reminded me of Borlu from TC&TC, while I always thought of Billy as Arthur Dent :)

The real question: Do we need Billy? I would love to say no, but re-reading makes me think that he has to be present so we can experience the "underbelly" of London, as you say, in that naive way Mieville wants. So that we don't just accept everything on the face of it just because we love weird fiction... or cthulu :)

And, you're right, I had forgotten what a fabulous intro this book contains.


message 13: by Nataliya (new)

Nataliya | 378 comments Traveller wrote: "Ok, that's it. Now I really must knuckle down and read Neverwhere. :P"

You should. It's a good one.


message 14: by Nataliya (new)

Nataliya | 378 comments Allen wrote: "The real question: Do we need Billy? I would love to say no, but re-reading makes me think that he has to be present so we can experience the "underbelly" of London, as you say, in that naive way Mieville wants."

I guess that's such a strong tradition in literature that Billy has to stay. Somehow it's always the naive wide eyes of an outsider that give us the best view of the new strange world. But as far as I remember, Perdido Street Station and The a City & The City did not rely on this trick so heavily, and maybe that's one of the reasons they were so unusually brilliant.


Puddin Pointy-Toes (jkingweb) | 201 comments You should definitely read Neverwhere, Traveller. Nataliya rather understates things when she says it's a "good" one. Despite all the lackluster crap Gaiman has written since, I will always give him props for Neverwhere, because it's so delightfully fantastic (in the dictionary sense). It probably also helps that I had one of the best giggling fits of my life after describing Neverwhere to my friend Chris, whose sole initial comment was "Knob." You'll understand once you read it (I hope).

To me Subby and Goss are tiresome, but it's early days still, and I may just be projecting my dislike of King Rat (the character) onto them. I find myself liking (or at least pitying) Billy, and I definitely like the concept (and execution!) of the FSRC. Baron isn't much of anything besides a gruff authority figure so far, but the other two present surprising depth. Indeed, the FSRC is giving me reason enough to soldier on past the giant squid cult tedium (with apologies to the devout probably spying on us at this very moment).

Nataliya, you're forgetting about Embassytown, whose protagonist was anything but wide-eyed: she was grizzled and very much equipped to handle (without too much perspiring) the events transpiring around her, not to mention a native of the strange world we were thrust into. That's probably the main reason I like it so much, besides the alien setting, focus on language and tons and tons of action in the second half. Okay, so I have a lot of reasons to love it; sue me.

Anyway, getting back to the tome under actual discussion (digressions are dangerous!), I find Billy to be a useful window, though admittedly pretty spineless (at least so far). I think I might like him more if he were able to commit to one thing or another rather than just being dragged along like a piece of luggage by whoever manages to kidnap him at any given time.

I do like maritime stories (Hornblower is some of the best television I've had the pleasure to see, for instance), but sea-creature stories interest me less than the sea-faring itself, so I don't really understand the draw of giant squids, either. Railsea was great for that, though: adventure on the high seas on a train? Sign me up, quick-fast.


message 16: by Traveller (last edited Nov 09, 2014 02:42PM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Geez, what's with all the Billy-hate, everybody? Just imagine yourself in the poor sod's shoes. :P I mean, I would have probably been more aghast and useless than he is being.

Well, I think I prefer plain ol' Billy to some kind of superman; and yet there are hints that Billy is indeed special in more ways than one, and that he may indeed have a special power (oi, here I'm reminded of The 4400 again)...


Puddin Pointy-Toes (jkingweb) | 201 comments Aww, I don't hate Billy! I rather like Billy (hence my saying I'd like him more if, etc.), and I must admit I like that he has a certain passion for his job, loyalty to his friends and so on.

As a nerd out of his depth I can certainly sympathize, too, so don't worry, dear Traveller, Billy does have his admirers. ;)

There have indeed been hints that there is something special (indeed, very special) about him, and I'm curious to see what that might be. I'll just have to keep reading, won't I?


message 18: by Saski (last edited Nov 11, 2014 01:56AM) (new)

Saski (sissah) | 266 comments This is my second time through. I remember not really liking Billy much until much further on in the book.

I rarely reread books. I hadn't realized how many more of the details one can pick up on when not stumbling around going "what the heck is going on!"

Hmmm, perhaps I didn't like Billy the first time through because I was having the same problem he was, and he wasn't helping (the reader).

I expect to enjoy this round even more.

FSRC -- Love it! But doesn't it exist in police force or the FBI, etc. Cult cops?

Collingswood -- Love her too! Her smoking seems to provide a protective mist or screen...


message 19: by Salem (new)

Salem Salem | 7 comments This is also a reread for me. I can't remember if it was my 2nd or 3rd Mieville read. I remember enjoying it but not finding Billy...vivid enough? I did reread The Call of Cthulhu a couple of days ago as well.

For whatever reason I've never read any Gaiman, so I may have to check out Neverwhere...


message 20: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Ruth wrote: "FSRC -- Love it! But doesn't it exist in police force or the FBI, etc. Cult cops?
..."


I Googled cult cops and got very distracted on the various paths that led me on. Most significantly into the area of Satanism (does Satanism really exist, even? I mean, do people really actually worship an entity called Satan?) and Santeria (which I had never heard of before, but recognized in it the religion of Amparo, the girlfriend of Causabon from Foucault's Pendulum.)

Salem wrote: "This is also a reread for me. I can't remember if it was my 2nd or 3rd Mieville read. I remember enjoying it but not finding Billy...vivid enough? I did reread The Call of Cthulhu a couple of days ..."

Didn't Derek ask that we do a Miévillians discussion of Neverwhere ?


message 21: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 266 comments re: Satanism, don't forget the Yazidi, who if I remember correctly, don't so much worship Satan as acknowledge and respect him. There's a good discussion of them in The Diplomat by...I'll get back to you.


message 22: by Traveller (last edited Nov 12, 2014 02:39AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments K! I guess a thread discussing Kraken is as good as any for discussing Satanism, since Kraken is about cults, and if Satanism really existed, it would be a cult.

The reason why I am wondering about the phenomenon, is that I very recently read a rant by a person who described both Harry Potter and all metal music as instances of Satanism. (Which of course, doesn't really constitute a cult of persons worshiping an entity called Satan.)

So, what I would like to know, is: are there really groups of people, sane or otherwise, around who do things like 'worship' Satan by dedicating temples to him and sacrifice animals and babies and people to him, and whatever else one sometimes hear claimed that they supposedly do?


message 23: by Traveller (last edited Nov 12, 2014 02:48AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments PS. If I google "proof for the existence of satanism" all I seem to get are results that go: "proof that the devil still walks among us!", " Proof that Satan really exists" and yaddah yaddah - that kind of thing.

LOL, like this, for instance : http://gawker.com/shocking-new-eviden...


message 24: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 266 comments James Aldridge is the author of the Diplomat.

Your link, Traveller...I don't know whether to laugh or cry...


message 25: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Ruth wrote: "James Aldridge is the author of the Diplomat.

Your link, Traveller...I don't know whether to laugh or cry..."


Re the link... that about sums about how I felt about it.

OK, thanks for the rec.


message 26: by Nataliya (new)

Nataliya | 378 comments Traveller wrote: "PS. If I google "proof for the existence of satanism" all I seem to get are results that go: "proof that the devil still walks among us!", " Proof that Satan really exists" and yaddah yaddah - t..."

Oh dear. That article. I don't know whether to laugh or just be sad.

Hey, as long as Satan is too busy manifesting self to Miley Cyrus, maybe the rest of the world is free to develop in its own fashion without the supernatural tug of war that apparently is supposed to be happening.


message 27: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Heh heh, yes, old Nick seems to be dividing his time between Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande and the latter's friends, and he (and them) must be having a ball of a time; so with Old Nick all happy and content, maybe the rest of us can sit back and relax a bit and Judge Scalia can worry a bit less about Lucifer sucking up our souls into a huge vortex that plunges down into Hell.


Puddin Pointy-Toes (jkingweb) | 201 comments "Old Nick" makes me think of Santa more than Satan. Close enough, I guess? ;)


message 29: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments J. wrote: ""Old Nick" makes me think of Santa more than Satan. Close enough, I guess? ;)"

ROFL, hey, that's a good point! Santa is of pagan (which is often given a blanket accusation of being "Satanist" by the righteous) origin after all, and he gives/celebrates bounty whereas Christianity preaches asceticism...

J., FYI: http://english.stackexchange.com/ques...


message 30: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments For Santa, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Claus

It's quite interesting how there were many different traditions which eventually blended.


message 31: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Oh, for those who are ready to move on, thread two is here https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 32: by Magdelanye (new)

Magdelanye | 173 comments yo hoho!
Got notification that Kraken is waiting for pick up
from comments i am really curious to see if/how it will grab me


message 33: by Allen (new)

Allen (allenblair) | 227 comments Hey Trav, I like your "blanket accusation ... by the righteous" :)

Around here in the Bible Belt, and truth be told all through my childhood, anything contrary to churchgoer's beliefs was labeled "the Bible's agin' it," that is against it, and therefore was "of the devil."

Alcohol and sex outside of marriage were downright sinful (despite what happened behind closed doors), and horoscopes, playing records backwards, D&D, etc., was labeled satanic. Funny how I never truly adopted the thought pattern. Maybe college cured me :) Dunno. But the (cult like?) beliefs of Christian churches are still pervasive today, and this book makes me think of it. The fervor of following a faith...

Like the other day, my wife came home from the grocery. We use reusable bags, and she had one with the Disney villians on it - the clerk eyed it sharply then filled it anyway - but the one with the Ouiga boardgame printed on it? She refused to touch it. :)


message 34: by Derek, Miéville fan-boi (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 761 comments So many things to comment on...

Traveller wrote: "So, what do the rest of you think about the way the book starts off? Did you also enjoy all the nerd-face in-joking?"

Hated the nerd-face in-joking. Disliked Billy. Which darkened my appreciation of the whole thing.

Nataliya wrote: "I just don't get the awe and appeal of a giant squid."

Prepared right, in the right sauce...

Traveller wrote: "Geez, what's with all the Billy-hate, everybody? Just imagine yourself in the poor sod's shoes. :P I mean, I would have probably been more aghast and useless than he is being."

Well, sure. And I'd be as nerdy, too. But who wants to read a novel about themselves?

Traveller wrote: "I mean, do people really actually worship an entity called Satan?)"

Well, I thought, sure they do. Didn't Aleister Crowley invent his own form of Satanism... And then I started to google, and apparently he didn't. Charles Manson might have, but he was insane (though I think that might be a prerequisite).

Re: Old Nick, Satan and Santa. I think "Old Nick" has probably been used in England since well before Santa Claus (and I'm not sure I ever heard Santa called "Saint Nick" in England). fwiw, England also has "the nick" (the police), which is what my mind kept coming back to.

Traveller wrote: "Santa is of pagan ... origin after all, and he gives/celebrates bounty whereas Christianity preaches asceticism..."

Hardly. A few Christian sects preach asceticism. It was never more than a minority opinion in the Roman Catholic church, and varies from non-existent to required in the Protestant faiths.

Did I suggest we do Neverwhere? I should have... and we should.


message 35: by Traveller (last edited Nov 14, 2014 12:54PM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Magdelanye wrote: "yo hoho!
Got notification that Kraken is waiting for pick up
from comments i am really curious to see if/how it will grab me"


Magdelanye, you've been gone so long that I'll be curious too, to see how you find it! :O

Allen wrote: "Hey Trav, I like your "blanket accusation ... by the righteous" :)

Around here in the Bible Belt, and truth be told all through my childhood, anything contrary to churchgoer's beliefs was labeled ..."


Phew, that sounds extreme - I also know a lot of people I had thought were pretty conservative, but it just shows you it's all a matter of proportion...

Derek (Guilty of thoughtcrime) wrote: "Hardly. A few Christian sects preach asceticism. It was never more than a minority opinion in the Roman Catholic church, and varies from non-existent to required in the Protestant faiths.
."


Matthew 19:23-24New International Version (NIV)

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”


(Fortunately for me, I still remember my Bible lessons... ;))

...but I suppose giving and receiving gifts needn't be the prerogative of the rich only.

Hmm,
Yes, let's do Neverwhere - shall I go put it in the schedule thread now for December?


message 36: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 266 comments Wait, slow down! please...sorry, I shouldn't get so excited... I would love to read Neverwhere, at least assuming I can find a copy, but I seem to remember a discussion of American Gods for after Kraken.... I guess I have had my heart set on that...


message 37: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Ruth wrote: "Wait, slow down! please...sorry, I shouldn't get so excited... I would love to read Neverwhere, at least assuming I can find a copy, but I seem to remember a discussion of American Gods for after K..."

Argh, okay then.... I suppose I was kinda afraid of American Gods because it's so big, but okay...


message 38: by Derek, Miéville fan-boi (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 761 comments Saying that the rich will have a hard time reaching heaven is a long way from "preaching asceticism", though. Being poor is only one of many virtues required of the ascetic.


message 39: by Magdelanye (new)

Magdelanye | 173 comments After all the fuss, its wonderful to slip into a mieville, and no quibbling, it has his stamp from the get go. I dont find Billy to be such a nerd...i am ready to like him and curious about Dane.

What is confusing is all the fuss about what to read next being posted here.Shouldnt it be another thread?

This is my first group read, so forgive me if I am easily distracted.I did love American Gods


message 40: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments I'm glad you're also liking Billy, Magdelanye!

The fuss about the other book happened here, I think, because many people said that two of the characters in Kraken, Subby and Goss, reminded them of 2 characters in Neverwhere.
I had not read Neverwhere yet, and the fact that everyone else knew what it was about, made me yet more aware of the fact, so... (and yes, we are discussing it in the scheduling thread now)


message 41: by Saski (new)

Saski (sissah) | 266 comments So...Is 'uncanny blossom' untranslatable in French? For that matter, is it really understandable in English? Doesn't seem quite fair...


message 42: by Magdelanye (new)

Magdelanye | 173 comments Blame it on the library and their limits...i have been distracted by another book i finally got after months on wait list and i know they will demand it back on its first due date. soooo it wasnt until last night that i picked up Kraken, prepared to spend an hour or so.
It didnt unfold like that.
I was interested if course in Collingwoods background and marvelling again at the concise lushness of his descriptions.....and then chapter 11 and12. The scene with the radio man and the Tattoo was something i never wished to encounter. i cast the book aside and went back to the nazi occupation of france.


message 43: by Traveller (last edited Nov 28, 2014 03:02AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Ruth wrote: "So...Is 'uncanny blossom' untranslatable in French? For that matter, is it really understandable in English? Doesn't seem quite fair..."

Yes, it is not translatable in an exact sense. There is no word in French that means exactly the same as uncanny, and their word for blossom is simply the same as for flower.

I think this is partly due to the fact that English really has a lot of nuances due to having absorbed so much from other languages. English is like a great big sponge, and it's a process that is still ongoing. Personally, I love it! :)


message 44: by Allen (new)

Allen (allenblair) | 227 comments You may have seen it already, but good interview with CM when this book came out (hope the link works):

http://metro.co.uk/2010/06/02/china-m...


message 45: by Allen (new)

Allen (allenblair) | 227 comments This comment in particular is affecting the tone of my reread...

Did you come across any examples of particularly bizarre cults?
There are loads of religions which have these extraordinary, to an outsider, belief systems. Loads of religions seem ridiculous. You think about Mormonism or Scientology but what about things like the theology of the Anglican church? Babies born of virgins and all that sort of thing. I don'��t want to be rude about people's beliefs. The idea that some are less ridiculous than others isn't helpful; how they behave is a different matter. I have every sympathy with people who are enraged by how the Catholic church behaves, but that's not about the belief system but about how people behave.



message 46: by Derek, Miéville fan-boi (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) | 761 comments Hey, I was raised Anglican and we were never big on things like virgin birth... :)

But yeah, he's entirely right. And for anyone who insists that ridiculous beliefs are the sole domain of religion, I have two words: Dark Energy.


message 47: by Magdelanye (last edited Dec 07, 2014 04:42PM) (new)

Magdelanye | 173 comments https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.ne...

this may work....a little synchronic finding
sadly, empty when I found it


message 48: by Magdelanye (new)

Magdelanye | 173 comments have people been able to see this photo? It would be nice if someone could get the image up. I have another photo to post. Is there a better way?


message 49: by Traveller (last edited Dec 15, 2014 02:20AM) (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Magdelanye, if I follow your link, I get to a facebook link giving an error message.

If there was a photo on that page that you wanted to show us, can you manage to copy and paste that photo... hmm, you don't have your own hard drive, though, do you?

...but i see you have managed to upload photo's to your profile, so if you can manage to upload the photo to your profile, let me know once you have done it, and i will make it show here in the thread for you. :)

(Or if you can get me to view that photo anywhere at all that i can actually see it, i can make a plan for you to set it up here in the thread. How about sticking it on Pinterest? But your profile here might be easiest.)


message 50: by Magdelanye (new)

Magdelanye | 173 comments shit traveller thanks
until i get a new laptop i am stuck with the mobile which i am using right now and has the photos i want to share. it might be easiest for us to cross the fb barrier, because if we were also fb frienfs i could radily share


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