PDA

View Full Version : China Mieville


NoKidding
06-12-2007, 05:43 PM
Anyone else think this guy is amazing?

Probably my favorite author right now, even though he's a huge asshole for not letting his books be translated to Hebrew. He claims it's because of our treatment of the palestinians, but really, he's just an asshole.

Still an awesome writer though.

shivam
06-12-2007, 05:44 PM
you know, i really want to like him, cause his worlds are so interesting, but i just havent been able to get into his writing at all.

Makkara
06-12-2007, 11:55 PM
I was going to say something, but then I remembered this isn't the Pit.

I'd never heard of this guy before, but after skimming over the Wikipedia article about Bas-Lag, I'm intrigued. Perdido Street Station is going in my list.

Loki
06-13-2007, 12:49 AM
I want to read his books but there are no audio versions yet.

I don't have time to READ read books. I'm driving too much.

Red Hedgehog
06-13-2007, 09:13 AM
Perdido Street Station was pretty awesome. As mentioned, mostly in the world-building, so not greatest novel ever but a really good read.

Crazy Larry
06-13-2007, 12:28 PM
I'm pretty much in complete agreement with Shivam here. I tried to read Perdido Street Station and I got about half way before I just got bogged down in monotony.

NoKidding
06-13-2007, 01:49 PM
Try reading The Scar. It displays the same awesome world-building and language prowess, but has a much more prominent plot.

And Makkuro, what were you going to say? Go on, I can take it.

Makkara
06-13-2007, 02:23 PM
Yeah, but this isn't the place for a political discussion. This one in particular (and I've had it many times) tends to turn hostile pretty quickly.

NoKidding
06-13-2007, 03:01 PM
Fine... Just for the record though, whatever it was, I would have probably had a good reply for it. Not hostile though. I don't really see the point in being hostile online.

upupdowndown
06-16-2007, 09:51 AM
I love China and I want to have his babies. Perdido Street Station isn't quite as good at establishing character as The Scar or Iron Council are, but I still found PSS's characters more interesting and credible than 90% of fantasy/SF characters out there.

Also, I love his approach to politics in his work. His politics definitely informs his work, but doesn't slavishly dictate it. It's not propaganda.

Jonathan
06-26-2007, 03:26 PM
I probably didn't give as much attention to "Looking for Jake and Other Stories" as would be fair, but I found his short story writing to establish too little character in proportion to style and mood. I felt a bit lost by his worlds (spatially) and couldn't develop enough concern for his characters/environments to continue to check out his lengthier works.

Loki
06-27-2007, 12:27 AM
So I'm reading Perdido Streat Station and I'm really not seeing how the plot/characters arn't devolped. I've heard that the book turns into a thriller, but at this point (just past 200 pages) both Isaac and Lyn have been given interesting, beleaveable backstories and enough variation and devlopment to play off of several notes. So, does the worldbuilding simply overshadow the plot and characters or does the whole story aspect really fall flat?

And even if it does, I don't think I'd care all that much. The worldbuilding is something else. I just read the part where Isaac descrives the effects of Torque on Suroch. Gosh! Those few pages of discription could carry a whole 'nother novel. I'm still reeling from it.

Falselogic
12-14-2011, 10:58 AM
The wife and I read King Rat at the end of last year and the beginning of this year. It was awful. Dark for dark sake isn't my thing. D was actually distressed by the book. Also his characterization isn't that great in the book everyone is paper thin as a person.

Egarwaen
12-14-2011, 11:06 AM
He talks a much better game than he writes. I read Perdido Street Station, and it's entirely wanky world-building for the sake of it. I mean, he does a good job at it, but the characters and plot fell really flat, and that's sort of what I come to a novel for.

Yeah, I'm with Nich on this one, except I read both Perdido Street Station and The Scar.

I actually find them to be a weird combination of wanky world-building and not wanting to tell the audience anything about the world he's built. The books are loaded with teasers about how awesome and detailed everything is, but he does nothing more than tease.

In short, great high concept, terrible craftsmanship and execution.

EDIT: Loki, it's more that the characterization doesn't matter. He provides the illusion of depth without actually producing any.

Red Hedgehog
12-14-2011, 12:57 PM
I've since read The City and The City and it's much better than Perdido Street Station. He actually crafts a solid murder mystery to go along with the interesting world of two cities located in the same location but in different "phases" of existence. The characterizations still aren't much as the main character is a pretty stock hard-boiled police detective and there pretty much aren't other characters in the book. But overall a good read with a compelling story weaving through a well put-together world.

Olli T
12-14-2011, 02:04 PM
I read King Rat last summer. I mostly enjoyed reading it, but afterwards it seemed very formulaic and so genre. Very much like Neverwhere*, now that I think about it, and Gaiman wasn't very good when he wrote Neverwhere; American Gods shares some elements too and it's way better than either King Rat or Neverwhere. Still, King Rat's his first novel, so I might give his later fare a chance sometime.

* not to the point of being a ripoff, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear it was a strong inspiration. Could be a coincidence, too, these things do float around in the cultural subconsciousness.

Nodal
12-14-2011, 02:06 PM
All I know is that Kraken was absolutely fantastic.

Matchstick
12-14-2011, 07:56 PM
So many people in this thread that are so wrong, it's painful. :p I'm amazed that when I disagree with shivam pretty much constantly on writing that he still dug the book I sent him.

I love China's writing and Perdido Street Station completely knocked me out. I think there's a ton of details and characterization that goes on in it and the other Bas-Lag books, so I don't really get the complaints. I've read Perdido Street Station, The Scar, Iron Council, Un Lun Dun, and The City and the City and enjoyed them all to various degrees. I have Kraken and Embassytown on the To Be Read shelf. Mrs. Match is also a huge fan.

Falselogic
12-14-2011, 08:57 PM
So many people in this thread that are so wrong, it's painful. :p I'm amazed that when I disagree with shivam pretty much constantly on writing that he still dug the book I sent him.

I love China's writing and Perdido Street Station completely knocked me out. I think there's a ton of details and characterization that goes on in it and the other Bas-Lag books, so I don't really get the complaints. I've read Perdido Street Station, The Scar, Iron Council, Un Lun Dun, and The City and the City and enjoyed them all to various degrees. I have Kraken and Embassytown on the To Be Read shelf. Mrs. Match is also a huge fan.

Read King Rat then you'll understand

Maggie
12-14-2011, 09:14 PM
I picked up Kraken from Audible and I couldn't get through it. It was just seemingly made to annoy me. Maybe it was the narrator, but the writing wasn't good either. I finally gave up when they introduced the cutesy, oh-so-quirky, aren't-I-lovable inspector who was just grating and unrealistic in the way he spoke. Really should have checked something of his out from the library first or whatever and been sure I would like it, so that's my fault, but I was still irritated that I spent money on it.

KCar
12-14-2011, 09:22 PM
Haven't read much of his stuff, but I loved The City and The City. I think maybe some of the mixed reception here comes from the fact that he's approaching his writing in a very different way from many sci fi writers; in particular, The City was a way of thinking through Gramscian semiotics, rather than anything particularly scientific. I figure he's trying to write the "novel of ideas," and the trappings (characters, world building, etc) of SF are largely incidental for him.

My best guess, anyway.

shivam
12-14-2011, 10:09 PM
So many people in this thread that are so wrong, it's painful. :p I'm amazed that when I disagree with shivam pretty much constantly on writing that he still dug the book I sent him.

I love China's writing and Perdido Street Station completely knocked me out. I think there's a ton of details and characterization that goes on in it and the other Bas-Lag books, so I don't really get the complaints. I've read Perdido Street Station, The Scar, Iron Council, Un Lun Dun, and The City and the City and enjoyed them all to various degrees. I have Kraken and Embassytown on the To Be Read shelf. Mrs. Match is also a huge fan.

I gave mielville another chance and read The City and The City, and it's one of my favorite books of this year. If more of his books were like that, i'd be a die hard. sadly, they're more like perdido street, which stopped me dead in like two chapters.

the book you gave me, though, is fucking fantastic, and i want more stuff like it.

Matchstick
12-14-2011, 10:43 PM
Sorry.

You clipped out the emoticon to indicate that I'm teasing everybody. I'm long since over needing any kind of validation for my likes or dislikes. I am interested in way too many things that I know the majority of people don't dig that I can't let it faze me. Honestly, I'm generally interested to see what opposing viewpoints are, if they're at all supported.

upupdowndown
12-15-2011, 11:04 AM
I'll join Matchstick on this one, Mieville's one of my favorite authors. I haven't read King Rat (which was his first book and written while he was in his early 20s), but I've read all of his other novels. His Bas-Lag books all have their own flaws but they are doing things that most fantasy/weird fiction authors never dream of attempting, so I give him a pass.

As Shivam mentioned, The City & The City is just fantastic, like a thriller written by Kafka. Kraken's a weaker work of his, and a bit too much of a shaggy-dog story for my taste. It comes off as Mieville doing his best Gaiman impersonation.

Embassytown, his newest book, is a thrilling tribute to when postmodernism and linguistics entered SF in the 60s and 70s. Aolthough the prose is a bit clinical, the plot and ideas are so strong, and the fact that it's a big wet kiss to Delaney's work pretty much guaranteed that I'd love it.

Red Hedgehog
12-15-2011, 01:34 PM
As Shivam mentioned, The City & The City is just fantastic, like a thriller written by Kafka.

Hey, I also said The City and The City was fantastic. :)

Grignr
12-15-2011, 03:05 PM
As Shivam mentioned, The City & The City is just fantastic, like a thriller written by Kafka.

I liked Perdido just OK and wasn't a big fan of Un Lun Dun (though now I like to joke with my daughter about carnivorous giraffes) so I'm choosier about which of his books I pick up now. But Embassytown looks like one I'd like (and The City & The City is great, though you could also call it "entirely wanky world-building for the sake of it" but the wanky is mind-blowing).

Paul le Fou
12-15-2011, 04:17 PM
Un Lun Dun was the first book I read by him, and it was fantastic. If I'd been in the YA target audience when I read it, it easily would have reigned as my favorite book ever for some years (until I grew up).

Although I had to readjust. As I read I was all "Wait, oh, so, he does YA stuff. OK. Didn't expect that but that's cool."

Then I read Perdido Street Station and, as you can imagine, had another readjustment period to work through...

P.S.S. was really disappointing. There was one scene I really, really liked where the superdimensional spider saves them from the warehouse raid, but the rest of it was just kinda bland. Again: a lot of amazing world-building and cool ideas and fantastic environments, not a lot of good storytelling. The characters were flat, the conflicts felt flat, the stakes didn't feel real, events just kinda happened, then it was over.

But, there seems to be a lot of love for The City and the City, so I'd be glad to check it out.

taosterman
08-02-2012, 10:04 AM
THREAD REVIVAL

I'm reading Perdido Street Station and I'm in love with it so far. I wish more wanky world-building was this geekily obsessed with urban sprawl and public transit(!!). Really speaks to the city planning dork in me. And the plot's pretty neat too. So as of this moment I'm on the "yea" side of this particular author's work, all 150 pages of it I've read.

Loki
08-02-2012, 10:18 AM
I finished Railsea not to long ago and it really left me cold. Neat idea but, really unusual for Mieville, not fleshed out enough or given enough thought. The plot really didn't have anything going for it and all the secondary characters left me cold.

=\, I say, =\

taosterman
08-02-2012, 10:49 AM
Also this appears to be in the wrong subforum ...

Brer
08-07-2012, 12:13 PM
I'm a sucker for fancy world-building, so despite the frustration with the way he simultaneously promises much and delivers little in the way of detail (as Egarwaen noted) I really enjoy that part of the Bas-Lag books. However, that I could barely finish Kraken and couldn't sustain interest through The City & The City makes me question his ability to tell a story I care about with characters I care about. As for political discussion, there are books where political discussion is pretty much directly invited by the material or the narrative choices of the author. Since most of the Bas-Lag books draw very, very heavily from the narrative devices and romantic imagery of 19th and early 20th century Labor and/or Socialist political movements and even revolutions, you pretty much have to choose whether or not to react to it or to consciously ignore it so you can get on with the rest of the work. I generally do the latter, since I enjoy the other elements of his stories enough to get over those parts.

Anyway, as I said I haven't actually been impressed with his stand-alone works, Embassytown being the only one I enjoyed start to finish. Even then I think that was at least as much because of the hints of world-building and the concepts involved with the ambassadors and the alien species as for the main character (though I did find her more interesting than any of the ones since the lead in Perdido St. Station).