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What Else Are You Reading? > China Miéville? Help me understand!

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message 1: by Nathan (last edited Jun 11, 2012 08:30PM) (new)

Nathan (tenebrous) | 377 comments To make it short, a while ago China Miéville's Iron Council was recommended to me. I got about the third of the way in and I found myself not really caring about the narrative or characters enough to wade through Miéville's sometimes confusing prose. I lemmed it and been avoiding Miéville ever since?

Yet I suspect, given how many people gush about the guy, he has to have some talent.

So convince me, what am I missing (or not)?

If you like him which of his works should I read?


message 2: by Kdawg91 (new)

Kdawg91 | 377 comments The Scar, and once I finished it Railsea.


message 3: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6353 comments Pssst. Nobody actually reads him. We just pretend we do to look cool.


message 4: by Michael (new)

Michael Underwood | 116 comments I would recommend The City and The City, and personally enjoyed Un Lun Dun (I cared most about that protagonist). For me, his work is more about delivering an interesting setting and tackling ideas than likable protagonists. His work is definitely not as wide-reaching in its appeal as some.


message 5: by Sara (new)

Sara (vivianstreet) | 34 comments Michael wrote: "[H]is work is more about delivering an interesting setting and tackling ideas than likable protagonists."

This is true in my experiance, too. I've read The City and the City and Perdido Street Station. The ideas are interesting, but those two books were enough to convince me that getting through any Mieville would be a struggle. I just can't find it in myself to care about the characters or their struggles.

So Nathan, you are not alone.


message 6: by Kdawg91 (new)

Kdawg91 | 377 comments hes definitely a idea person, I just discovered in my reading life, the "big idea" writers are the ones I dig most.


message 7: by Random (new)

Random (rand0m1s) But what good are big ideas if you don't actually do anything with them? Pretty icing, saw dust cake.

Nathan, you're not the only one. I suspect I will just never get the appeal of Miéville.


message 8: by Kdawg91 (new)

Kdawg91 | 377 comments thats true too, I just always was a sucker for the concept, I also read a few authors who have the big bang and dont do much with it.


message 9: by Charles (new)

Charles | 248 comments It depends.

Mieville was hailed as the anti-Tolkien when his first novel, Perdido Street Station came out. I found it focused on setting and featured many of the elements that were absent in Tolkien-derivative fantasy (not that Mieville was the only one to do so): urban setting, weird creatures outside of Euro-centric mythology, and morality that goes beyond the good/evil dichotomy.

Sequels to Perdido Street Station (featuring the same setting) were The Scar and Iron Council, so if you didn't like Iron Council, you probably won't enjoy the other books in the series.

There's a radical departure in style though when it comes to Mieville's subsequent books. If I recommend The City & The City for example, which is this part-psychological crime novel, it has to similarity to Mieville's other novels.

Maybe you ought to try his short fiction like his collection, Jake and Other Stories. It felt very much like a Lovecraft/Borges modern successor, if you're into that type of fiction. (It also includes a comic so Dial H isn't his first comic work.)


message 10: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6353 comments Robert Jackson Bennett on the danger of cool ideas: http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2012...


message 11: by Pickle (new)

Pickle | 192 comments i really enjoyed Perdido Street Station, The Scar, Un Lun Dun and still undecided about Kraken but i havent enjoyed Iron Council or his books since Kraken.

I wish he would revisit Bas Lag


message 13: by Tamahome (last edited Jun 13, 2012 05:56AM) (new)

Tamahome | 6353 comments Kdawg91 wrote: "http://blog.vornaskotti.com/2012/05/2..."

Interesting article, but somehow I think Asimov and Heinlein had something that Mieville and Stross don't. Crackling plots?


message 14: by Kdawg91 (new)

Kdawg91 | 377 comments I agree with your points, and Im enjoying the discussion throughly. I think my whole point is sometimes its about the idea and the world building, if that blows you away and makes you think, at least myself for one can forgive thin characters.


message 15: by Kdawg91 (new)

Kdawg91 | 377 comments this isnt entirely relevant, but sort of illustrates my way of thinking

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2011/12/20...


message 16: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6353 comments You won't like Leviathan Wakes.


message 17: by Kdawg91 (new)

Kdawg91 | 377 comments next book on my list actually

why would I not like it?


message 18: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6353 comments It's the opposite of a big ideas book. How was Count to a Trillion?


message 19: by Kdawg91 (new)

Kdawg91 | 377 comments honestly not my favorite, the golden age trilogy i enjoyed much better


now I cant wait to read Leviathan wakes


message 20: by Random (new)

Random (rand0m1s) Kdawg91 wrote: "thats true too, I just always was a sucker for the concept, I also read a few authors who have the big bang and dont do much with it."

I was thinking about this more over night. What exactly is the big concept in Perdido Street Station? For the life of me I can't think of anything other than pretty world building, which I certainly wouldn't label as "big concept".


message 21: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6353 comments I think there's a big slug.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2898 comments I haven't read enough of him to make a recommendation, but I have read enough to know the his books seem very different from each other. Disliking one won't guarantee you will dislike another. That said, life is short, and you should read what thrills you.


message 23: by Kdawg91 (new)

Kdawg91 | 377 comments I would label extensive world building as a concept, but I see your point.

The Bas Lag universe is one of the more interesting ones I have read about in the past 15 or so years.


message 24: by Kdawg91 (new)

Kdawg91 | 377 comments Im really enjoying Leviathan Wakes, the setting and world reminds me of Alien and Blade Runner (and I just got started)

set aside what i was reading, mainly because it was a reread.


message 25: by Niz (new)

Niz | 11 comments If you don't like Mieville, you don't like him. That doesn't make you uncool and it doesn't make Mieville a bad author. Different strokes for different folks.


message 26: by Chuck (new)

Chuck (daygecko) | 1 comments The book that introduced me to Mieville was Kraken which was less far out than some of his other books (well, by familiarity of premise,) but I have found that I like his style and prose now that I have a background in them. I'm not promising this is the way to go or will work for you, in fact I kind of doubt it. He has a fairly particular style and I can understand that some people don't like it. It doesn't make anyone wrong or a bad person.


message 27: by John (new)

John Wiswell | 86 comments I started with Perdido Street Station and just finished Embassytown. I think Mieville is a heck of a talent and unusual writer, and I'm happy I have a copy of The Scar to go to next.

He's got a romance with language, both in obscure phrasing and in contriving this own words, that leads to numerous passages reading unlike anything else anyone is writing. That novelty is strong for me in SpecFic where there are a lot of mediocre prose stylists. He's also fascinated with inter-species cultures, weird modes of communication or values. This overrides making individual characters interesting, and I can admit I didn't read either of the previous books because I was particularly attached to a player in them. It was about the bigger pictures, which frankly it feels like Mieville cares more for as well.


message 28: by Random (new)

Random (rand0m1s) John wrote: "I started with Perdido Street Station and just finished Embassytown. I think Mieville is a heck of a talent and unusual writer, and I'm happy I have a copy of The Scar to go to next.

He's got a ro..."


So, what was the bigger picture in PSS?


message 29: by Kdawg91 (new)

Kdawg91 | 377 comments the worlds he builds and the over all idea is the bigger picture


message 30: by L.S. (new)

L.S. Burton (lsburton337) I read The City and the City. I found his style a bit taxing at first, a bit spare, and it was difficult to keep from skipping lines and whatnot. For that reason, I think I missed some important details, and had trouble figuring out the exact configuration of the two cities until about the middle of the book.

But maybe that's what he intended ....


message 31: by Ian (new)

Ian Roberts | 143 comments I agree I've read the City and the City and Perdido St and while they are ok and have some interesting concepts I would rate them a resounding 'Meh'. Don't understand why the critical acclaim to be honest. It's hard to pin down what they are missing the nearest I can get is lack of any depth in the characters an also very pedestrian dialogue


message 32: by John (new)

John Wiswell | 86 comments Random wrote: "John wrote: "I started with Perdido Street Station and just finished Embassytown. I think Mieville is a heck of a talent and unusual writer, and I'm happy I have a copy of The Scar to go to next.

..."


The almost string-theory energy source, the personal-scale cultural relativism contrasting bigger groups that are set against each other, and whatever the heck ties into the Deus Ex Machina in the end. Most of the action in the final third of the novel is driven less by character or even the worms, and more by a general Marxist disdain for entrenched government.


message 33: by Random (new)

Random (rand0m1s) Kdawg91 wrote: "the worlds he builds and the over all idea is the bigger picture"


But what's the overall idea? I have to disagree that world building is big concept or big picture. World building is nothing more than decoration unless the author actually manages to do something with it.


message 34: by Random (new)

Random (rand0m1s) Ian wrote: "I agree I've read the City and the City and Perdido St and while they are ok and have some interesting concepts I would rate them a resounding 'Meh'. Don't understand why the critical acclaim to be..."

I was speaking to a friend last night and she came up with a great example of my feeling.

So, you go out one night and meet this guy. He's cute, he's a smooth talker. He tells you how amazing he is, how everyone loves him. So you take him home. He finishes before you even get the condom all the way on, then rolls over and goes to sleep.

You are then left with the desire to beat him with a baseball bat and feel the night would have been much more satisfying if you'd gone home alone with a fresh pack of batteries.

Over the course of the next month you hear women rave about this guy and how wonderful he is. You wonder what kind of drugs they are on and feel sad because they won't share. (The drugs, not the guy) :D


message 35: by Kdawg91 (new)

Kdawg91 | 377 comments you got a point, maybe I'm just enamored with authors who are way better at world building than myself, that I am overlooking the flaws in his writing.


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