Book Bin Science Fiction Book Club discussion

Mieville's accessibility

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message 1: by Kat (last edited Jun 12, 2012 06:15PM) (new)

Kat | 12 comments Mod
Even among die hard Mieville fans, everyone I've talked to has some books of his that they think are brilliant and some that didn't quite live up. I think what tops the favorites is City and the City and what tops the /shrugs is Perdido Street Station. So I generally think of City/City as being is most "accessible" book, and Perdido the least. However, every once in awhile, someone will declare Perdido as the end all-be all, ultimate starting place of Mieville novels. Did they see something others didn't? Did they just not get the memo? Is it just a matter of taste? And then there's Embassytown (my personal favorite. Though to be fully forthcoming, I haven't read either City/City nor Perdido yet.) I feel like Railsea (what I've read so far) can be grouped closely with Embassytown stylistically. So where are they on the accessibility matrix?

message 2: by Obadiah (new)

Obadiah | 13 comments When I went to his book signing for Embassytown Mieville recommended City/City for non SF and Fantasy folks and Kraken for those who already were fans of the genre. Clearly he felt those were his two most accessible books. I feel that Embassytown is his masterpiece thus far and while Railsea is brilliant stylistically as a young adult book it naturally is less ambitious conceptually. I think you can triangulate your taste for Mieville's different approaches by reading Railsea and City/City first. If you prefer Railsea move on to Kraken. If you prefer City/City try Embassytown next. If like me you liked both just read everything of his.

message 3: by R.J.K. (new)

R.J.K. Lee (rjklee) | 7 comments I've only read three of his works thus far, and I have to say all three are my favorites. Regarding the issue of accessibility, The City and the City definitely seems the most accessible, Embassytown the least, and Perdido Street Station somewhere in between.

I thought Embassytown the hardest to dive right into with all its strange relations with aliens and conflicts between cultures and languages, as well as trying to figure out what Avice Cho was doing and where she was, and sorting through her past and present threads. I suppose Perdido Street Station had a somewhat similar problem in that New Crobuzon is such a strange place with so many strange characters, but the plot seemed to push things more relentlessly straight forward, and the diverse characters were more clearly described, more readily understandable. Part of this difference is probably due to Embassytown being first person, so that just as Cho was trying to sort through what was happening so was I, while Perdido Street is (mostly) third person, which allowed me to more readily grasp what exactly was happening.

message 4: by Rajiv (new)

Rajiv | 7 comments I've been aching for a good new read for a while now (re-reading Dan Simmons's Hyperion series over and over again is getting a bit tiring).

I'll get off my lazy ass, drag myself to powells (a whole 10 blocks) and pick up Embassytown for my weekend reading.. All of Kat & Obi's recommendations have been winners for me thus far - love you folks.

message 5: by R.J.K. (new)

R.J.K. Lee (rjklee) | 7 comments I just listened to To the Best of Our Knowledge: The Language of Science Fiction (Sep 29, 2011, published by Wisconsin Public Radio), and I wanted to recommend it to everyone that has already read Embassytown, because it includes an interview with China Mieville, discussing Embassytown and the dual language the aliens use therein. After listening to that, I really want to listen to the audiobook version of Embassytown, since I was able to hear an excerpt in which I could hear the dual language spoken and it was quite well done. That would have enhanced my reading experience the first time around.

Also, in the interview China Mieville does mention that he deliberately kept the descriptions of the aliens vague, because the book is first person from Avice Cho Benner's perspective, and as he says the aliens are "sort've not described conclusively in the book because it's a first person narrative written from the perspective of a person from that world who doesn't feel the need to explain or just to describe everything because you know it's just where she lives [...] because the focus of the book is not on the physical specificity of the aliens [...]" So it sounds like it is deliberately perhaps the hardest for readers to readily access, but with good reason.

message 6: by R.J.K. (new)

R.J.K. Lee (rjklee) | 7 comments The link to that radio program and interview:

message 7: by Rajiv (new)

Rajiv | 7 comments Just finished Perdido Street Station. Loved it. I'm usually a fast reader, but this took me a week to read (reminded me of Umberto Eco in terms of his writing) - so had to read slow, digest the concepts he introduced (it's my first China Mieville book), before making headway on the storyline.

I picked this up at random to sample China Mieville's writing. I think I'll read a few more of his books

message 8: by Rajiv (new)

Rajiv | 7 comments Picked up Iron Council from Powells. Got my popcorn ready and looking forward to getting immersed in Mieville's story telling tonight.

message 9: by Rajiv (new)

Rajiv | 7 comments Iron Council is pretty low on the accessibility scale

I'd say somewhere between "don't start with this" to "definitely don't start with this".

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