China Mieville

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China Mieville

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Aug 25, 2016 5:23 pm UTC

I WANT TO SHAKE SOMEONE AND SCREAM IN ABJECT TERROR AT THESE BOOKS OH MY GOD SOMEONE TALK TO ME ABOUT THIS

Perido Street Station, for example, Weaver -

Spoiler:
A transdimentional spider monster that speaks into your brain in a stream of consciousness of dream poetry, is offered the sound of scissors closing as tribute (because chess pieces are now passé), and upon agreeing to work with the protagonists, harvests the right ear of all present and arranges them in the shape scissors before taking a few on a jaunt through the underspaceplace where THEY SEE THE FUCKING WEAVE OF THE COSMOS


Mieville is a crazy person. These books are amazing. I've read Embassytown and am almost done with PSS.
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Re: China Mieville

Postby Zohar » Thu Aug 25, 2016 5:26 pm UTC

I don't like him. I read Perdido Street Station a long time ago and just found it uninteresting, much to the disappointment of the friend who recommended it to me. I then read King Rat and didn't find it very engaging, either.
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Re: China Mieville

Postby natraj » Thu Aug 25, 2016 5:57 pm UTC

china mieville writes the kinds of books i really WANT to love. there are ideas he has in them about worldbuilding in bas lag & embassytown, about LANGUAGE with the host & ambassadors, that are fascinating and delightful to me. but in execution he is just so very much an eye rolly whiteboy in love with the Total Edginess of himself that as much as i want to love him i end up hating him just as much so i am so very much ehhhhhhhhhhh on the subject of china mieville it is hard for me to decide. i do read his stuff tho and then spend an awful lot of time cackling over it with my partner.

like really china mieville how many times do you need to use the word palimpsest on the same page? china mieville your book has spent more time describing squalor and filth and decomposition and rot than having an actual plot. china mieville we get it you are actually jerking off in a decaying corpse while writing this but the rest of us are not so in love with being an edgelord we just want to read about exciting pirate city adventures.

king rat is definitely The Worst of all the books but the rest of them have the same faults, just slightly more polished.
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Re: China Mieville

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Aug 25, 2016 7:59 pm UTC

natraj wrote:in love with the Total Edginess of himself
This I totally see and agree with.

natraj wrote:eye rolly whiteboy
This I don't really understand. I'm not even sure race beyond actual factual races (i.e., arrekai or vodynoi or khepri, not like asian or african or whatnot) has been part of his stories?

I enjoy because conceptually, they're great, and the writing, though completely and overly focused on squalor, is worlds better than a lot of the other writing I've come across lately, even for books I felt had good plot. For example, I recently read the first book in the Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone, which felt like it was written by a teenager who had good ideas.At least Mieville writes like a professional author who ALSO has good ideas.

EDIT: Now hooked on the Craft Sequence, scratch previous comment.
Last edited by Izawwlgood on Thu Jan 19, 2017 5:45 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: China Mieville

Postby natraj » Thu Aug 25, 2016 8:48 pm UTC

a) it is 110% possible to include social issues of race, class, etc, in fantasy/science-fiction worlds without, in fact, including any real-world races in them. in fact, in is very close to un-possible for real life human beings, steeped as we are in the actual-factual world, to avoid doing so. fantasy and sci-fi has always been a way for people to explore real world issues through different lenses, not a way to completely divorce from them.

b) you're focusing on the race thing when whiteboy was one word, deliberately, the 'boy' part of that inseparable; his treatment of female chars and especially gender variance makes me want to puke about as much as his constant focus on everything rotting forever; the language he uses to talk about gender is often so transphobic and gross and also constantly abusing your female characters is not gritty and realistic or edgy it's just a tired misogynistic favorite whiteboy fantasy writer thing to do.

c) king rat's central plotline was the protagonist (not his black bff tho) literally saving the world thru the power of dubstep i don't know if i need to elaborate on this.

but i agree that they are conceptually great and when he isn't dwelling in filth i enjoy his wordcraft so i keep reading them even if every chapter or so i throw the book at the wall and trade off venting with my partner about how terrible and ridiculous he is. they are just so very uneven like the great parts are great but the awful parts are awful and there are so many awful parts.
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Re: China Mieville

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Aug 25, 2016 9:13 pm UTC

A ) Yeah, I get that, but I honestly don't understand what your criticism is here. AFAIK from the two books I've read, he doesn't mention human races at all, and doesn't appear to be using alien/non-human races as some kind of metaphor for human races beyond 'these peoples are different'. Is your issue that he's NOT including human racial issues as part of his books?

B ) I also don't really understand what your criticism is here, but it's more than possible I'm just not seeing any transphobia that's present? Other than Lin being taken and tortured, I don't think he's 'constantly abusing female characters', but again, I may just be missing something, and... Well, I haven't noticed that as a pattern across 'whiteboy fantasy writers', but like I said, it's more than possible I'm just not seeing it.

C ) Haven't read it, but that sounds pretty stupid.
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Re: China Mieville

Postby Kewangji » Sun Aug 28, 2016 12:01 pm UTC

I hate-read Perdido Street Station. Hate for many of the same reasons as natraj is listing. I remember wanting to stick a pen through every page that had the word 'desultory' in it. But also, it's just not a story. It's just a collection of things. The ending isn't
Spoiler:
an ending, it's just a big whine about how hard it is to interact with rape victims? Along with some joke about RPG tropes?
I want to like Embassytown but I think I have better things to do with my time. I fear I'm going to meet him one day and be forced to be polite to him or something.

EDIT: also, having all the interesting female characters be raped and abused is definitely a whiteboy fantasy thing. Pretty sure there's a shock-full TVTropes page about it.
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Re: China Mieville

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Aug 28, 2016 7:00 pm UTC

I suppose trigger warning necessary now.

Kewangji wrote:The ending isn't
I... Man, I have to say, I feel like this is a deliberate misinterpretation of what is actually present in the novel, but if that's your take away, I can't really argue with your view.

I thought it was more an underline that everyone in the story loses. Pointing to Lin as 'difficult rape victim' seems to be a pretty striking misrepresentation of what happened to her, with 'rape' actually not even being a confirmed part of her abuse. I would say 'multiday torture and disfigurement with subsequent partial mind consumption' is a bit more accurate, and Isaac and Derkhans desire to continue caring for her tells the audience that it's NOT some kind of commentary about how difficult it is to 'interact with rape victims'?

Unless you're talking about Yag's story arc, wherein the protagonists decide that they cannot forgive his past crimes of rape, as communicated quite clearly by his extremely competent and powerful rape victim? With the ultimate acceptance of his punishment being an extraordinarily brutal punishment he accepts?

Kewangji wrote:EDIT: also, having all the interesting female characters be raped and abused is definitely a whiteboy fantasy thing. Pretty sure there's a shock-full TVTropes page about it.
right, I know that, but that's not really a feature of either Embassytown or PSS? Between the two novels, the only character I can name that was raped was Yag's victim.

Kewangji wrote:I remember wanting to stick a pen through every page that had the word 'desultory' in it
There were a few places in the book where I remember thinking 'Ok this is where he found a word he likes in the thesaurus', but frankly, that's something that bugs me in every book I read. The Demon Cycle Saga at one point in the second or third book used the word 'succor' a dozen times in a couple of chapters. I think what it comes down to is every author ultimately has a style, and it works or it doesn't, and like all art forms, you have to decide if the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Mieville is guilty of some obnoxious writing quirks, like obsessively fixating on filth and decay, but I'm genuinely not seeing yours or natrajs complaints about race and rape in what I've read so far.
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Re: China Mieville

Postby Kewangji » Mon Aug 29, 2016 8:59 am UTC

Yes, I'm talking about Yag's arc. Sorry to have been ambiguous! There were no other rapes, apart from all the mindrape, as I believe it's usually called, in the book as far as I noticed. It was a long while since I read it, so I cannot really claim to be able to back the points up with textual evidence. But that was my takeaway when I read it. I don't really have any takes on the race thing; wasn't very well-versed in ideas about race when I read it.

Izawwlgood wrote:
right, I know that, but that's not really a feature of either Embassytown or PSS? Between the two novels, the only character I can name that was raped was Yag's victim.
Ah, sorry. I thought this:

Well, I haven't noticed that as a pattern across 'whiteboy fantasy writers', but like I said, it's more than possible I'm just not seeing it.


meant that you questioned the trope's prevalence among white male writers at all. My bad.

My biggest gripe with the book is still that it wasn't a story. Hardly even a yarn. Also, as such, it was too long. You're totally right that style is subjective and all that -- and if it works for you, that's great. I really don't mean to rain on your parade, but I realize I have done that. So, I'll talk about what I liked with the book also now.

The psychedlikaleidoscope of another person's whole life in drug form was cool. Seriously. I really do like reading different people's understandings and ponderings of what literally seeing through another's eyes would be like. Miéville has two important variations on the common way to do it. 1) it's all-at-once, the download is pretty much immediate and experienced as immediate. (I think the trip lasts a few hours, right? But it's all there at once. It's a now that lasts for hours.) 2) It costs the sharer. I feel like the sharing is usually not as a zero-sum game, but here only one person can have this life in their head. The act of, well, empathy gets turned on its head, which is quite powerful. Quite bleak, in keeping with the book. The ideas about how understanding another person better might hurt them and hurt you is perhaps one thread that does run through the book and hold it together a bit.
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Re: China Mieville

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Aug 29, 2016 2:16 pm UTC

Kewangji wrote:Yes, I'm talking about Yag's arc.
Ah, so, that's why I don't/didn't understand the criticism of 'its a commentary on how rape victims are hard to deal with'? That is genuinely not a theme I'm seeing in Yag's storyarc - Yag is the rapist, not the raped, in case you forgot? If anything, I think it was bordering dangerously on justice porn, this notion of eye for an eye defilement and destruction of the rapists body in a manner that bordered an almost obnoxious circle of contrition. Yes, we get it, Yag is and feels guilty, and cannot escape his punishment which he deserves and accepts and agrees with, and that is why he's a fitting addition to New Crobuzon... It felt a little too inhuman, too wrapped up in it's own pomp.

Kewangji wrote:apart from all the mindrape
I'd say the Slake Moths were more along the lines of 'mind consumption' than 'mind rape', in the same way that I think, say, the Remade aren't being raped.

Kewangji wrote:meant that you questioned the trope's prevalence among white male writers at all. My bad.
Ah, nono. I didn't see it as being prevalent in Mieville's writing.

Kewangji wrote:My biggest gripe with the book is still that it wasn't a story. Hardly even a yarn. Also, as such, it was too long. You're totally right that style is subjective and all that -- and if it works for you, that's great.
For sure - while the book was definitely long, I liked the pacing and the narrative. I love the way scattered unrelated stories fit together, and how each little vignette was a look into the weird city of New Crobuzon, and how everyone was affected by the accidents of one another. I can totally understand how it doesn't work for some - similarly, in Children of Hurinn, when the same sword was renamed four times in a single paragraph, I can understand how some people would find that epic, where I found it obnoxious.

Kewangji wrote:The psychedlikaleidoscope of another person's whole life in drug form was cool.
One thing I credit Mieville with is changing his writing style to convey different things. The dreamshit episode was a frenzy, the Weaver evokes the sense of a childish babble, etc.

Kewangji wrote:The act of, well, empathy gets turned on its head, which is quite powerful
Similarly, I thought the description of the farseer to be pretty cool (the lady who helps Derkhan contact the editor of the magazine).
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Re: China Mieville

Postby Echo244 » Tue Aug 30, 2016 2:30 pm UTC

Hmmmm.

Haven't read Perdido Street Station recently enough to closely comment. The Scar and Iron Council were... I dunno. Some of the ideas were grand, but what drags me down about Mieville's writing is not the stench and decay but the hopelessness. Big and Productive wins, every time, being part of it doesn't mean you get a say, you just get used up in the service of others, and not being part of it means you get crushed sooner or later.

Oh, and I did not get on with Doull in The Scar.

Embassytown I do like, and have reread once or twice. Science fiction partly as "What If" and partly as "What we used to do but don't want to be confronted with".

What else? I've read The City & The City, and while it's mostly an adequate detective novel with a twist, I love the idea and how it seeps into my consciousness IRL - as I walk down a street and see what I see, there are all sorts of things I am not-seeing, and people who are not-seeing what I see... works very well in some areas with evident social inequality.
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Re: China Mieville

Postby Kewangji » Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:03 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Kewangji wrote:Yes, I'm talking about Yag's arc.
Ah, so, that's why I don't/didn't understand the criticism of 'its a commentary on how rape victims are hard to deal with'? That is genuinely not a theme I'm seeing in Yag's storyarc - Yag is the rapist, not the raped, in case you forgot? If anything, I think it was bordering dangerously on justice porn, this notion of eye for an eye defilement and destruction of the rapists body in a manner that bordered an almost obnoxious circle of contrition. Yes, we get it, Yag is and feels guilty, and cannot escape his punishment which he deserves and accepts and agrees with, and that is why he's a fitting addition to New Crobuzon... It felt a little too inhuman, too wrapped up in it's own pomp.
Yes, I know that about Yag. It's the moment near the end where the protagonist understands that the crime was rape that, particularly, didn't sit right with me. Felt like a bullshit thing to end on, and like, well -- another facet of the idea that ... unchecked empathy is bad. But in a false way? I don't know, it was a long time ago.

Izawwlgood wrote:I'd say the Slake Moths were more along the lines of 'mind consumption' than 'mind rape', in the same way that I think, say, the Remade aren't being raped.
Fair way to interpret it. Are the Remade part of the book also or is it some other scifi/new weird thing I'm supposed to know about?

Izawwlgood wrote:
Kewangji wrote:The psychedlikaleidoscope of another person's whole life in drug form was cool.
One thing I credit Mieville with is changing his writing style to convey different things. The dreamshit episode was a frenzy, the Weaver evokes the sense of a childish babble, etc.
An infidel heteroglossia, yeah. Many-voicedness is nice; I don't remember being particularly impressed by Miéville's, but I'm sure your assessment here is right. Currently I'm relishing the language in Cloud Atlas, where the author switches between different styles in a similar but distinct fashion. Most authors do this, I think, but to less extreme degrees?
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Re: China Mieville

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Aug 31, 2016 2:56 pm UTC

Kewangji wrote:Fair way to interpret it. Are the Remade part of the book also or is it some other scifi/new weird thing I'm supposed to know about?
There are a fair bit of hints describing what's going with them, including a meeting with the college professor who is a 'bio-thaumaturge' and later does some Remade-lite magic on Isaac. I dunno, I think it was pretty easy to connect the dots that they're just humans who have been shaped by magic and/or technology, and have sort of created their own society as a function of being somewhat Outcasts.

Kewangji wrote:Most authors do this, I think, but to less extreme degrees?
Yeah, for sure, some certainly do, but there are a lot of authors who cannot, in the slightest, and it shows glaringly through their writing.
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