Matthew Cheney, over at Mumpsimus, considers China Mieville apropos Adam Lipkin's review of Mieville's new novel, Iron Council.

It's an interesting essay, certainly more interesting than Lipkin's vitriolic review (which is far more vitriolic regarding Mieville's fans than towards the man himself). While I can certainly understand the frustration both writers express with CM's novels, I find that the very density of his books, and what may seem like opaqueness, is a part of their strengh. While every writer needs a good editor, I don't think Mieville needs to be reigned in.

I don't feel CM is the savious of Fantasy literature, as I believe it was well on the way to salvation before Perdido Street Station was published. I do believe he is the single most important voice in Fantasy right now, and a writer whose originality, imagination and plotting are, occasionally staggering. Mieville is a "big thinker", in a mode seen far more often in SF than in Fantasy. I've been saying for several years now that the scales of quality and originality in speculative fiction have been tipping towards Fantasy. I believe PSS tipped those scales, bringing a certain finality to a shift created by books by Martin, Kay, Swanwick, Gentle, Powers, and Gaiman among others.

CM's books are flawed, no doubt. Getting through the prologue of Perdido Street Station is hard work, and the first 150 pages or so of The Scar are certainly slow going. But by the time one is finished reading these books, the flaws are, if not erased, certainly diminished by the grandeur and scope of the story one has just read.

I've given lectures in conventions here in Israel for the past few years, about genre history, trends, sub-genres and so forth. And Perdido Street Station has come up repeatedly as an important road marker in genre literature. This is why readers forgive Mieville's flaws (while hoping he grows out of them. Iron Council, one should recall, is only his fourth novel). His books are simply too good, too overwhelming, to let these flaws stand in the way of our appreciation of them.

11 תגובות על ״Mieville״

  1. Seriously, the Ocher Israel comments are no longer amusing, and I find them detrimental to any discussion of Mieville's merits as a writer.

    He doesn't want his books published here in Israel. Deal With It. This is not a political thread, it is a literary thread. If I ever decide to open a political discussion of Mieville, these comments will have a place. As it is, further comments of this nature will be deleted.

  2. 1 – Can you set the charset of the blog to UTF-8, so Hebrew slanders as well as that accent over Mieville can be visible? This worked in Movable Type…

    2 – I basically agree with the sentiment: Mieville is a flawed but important writer. He's also the first writer I see who is building Fantasy out of the culture of my generation. I'm curious if anyone's really looked at his work, beyond "this is not Tolkien", and analyzed the neo-Pulp elements? This is a guy who grew up on Marvel UK B&W comics, on Warhammer, on Seventies trashy SF and Cyberpunk, and I can recognize his dreams.

  3. Hmmm. I've changed to unicode, let's see if it makes a difference:

    Also, if it's no problem, I generally prefer comments to be signed. Hard to have a dialogue with a bunch of interchangable anonymi.

  4. I've deleted comments by Lavie, Raz, and Boojie, for violating my rather clear request to not delve into CM's politics here.

    I'm not going to argue the merits of the points they've made. I've done this elsewhere, and I think stating my position after deleting other people's positions would be unfair. I will say that at least Raz and Lavie made reference to my request, whereas Boojie just bulled through, completely disregarding it.

    On another matter, I don't mind people not being registered at Blogger. Just sign your name at the end of your comment, and if someoe impersonates you, let me know, and I'll delete their comment.

  5. Ok, I'll re-post here the part of my message that had nothing to do with politics. I did pick up "Perdido Street Station", I did try to read it, and threw my hands in defeat after 100 pages or so. As Didi posted above, getting through the man's writing can be a real pain. Yes, I'll give him the credit of drawing a convincing picture of a fantasy world, and for making this world go against everything Tolkein and the who-knows-how-many-writers-following-his-footsteps hold dear. I only wish there was some other reason – story or character-wise – to make want to keep reading. I couldn't find it in the first 100 pages.
    However, as these pages are merely 1/8 of the entire book, I certainly am going to give it another try. The buzz around it is just too strong for me to ignore. I just have to find some time to squeeze it in my never-ending reading list.

    Speaking of which, Didi, do you have the time to read anything nowdays? I'm asking because I have finally managed to get my hands on my (well, new) four-volume Nausicaa collection, and while I'm not in the business of pushing books to people's hands, this one's an exception…


  6. Boojie says:
    Oh, I'm so sorry for "just bulling through". Did I hurt you? And the fact that Lavie chose to call me names and disregard my opinions stating that I'm just "an extremist" and god knows what else was okay by you? I should have APOLOGIZED TO YOU for responding to what he said about ME?
    Well, I do apologize for desecrating your sacred blog. I have to be thankful for at least one thing: at least this time I got a response from you for what I posted here. That's refreshing. I guess now I know the way to get that.

  7. I am not going to get into contests of who called who names. If you feel insulted by what Lavie wrote, please take it up with him. You have his email address. I will say this, when you use an offensive term to describe a person's friend, don't be shocked when that person replies using strong language. And no, this is NOT an invitation to discuss the merits of the terms used.

    I very specifically asked not to discuss CM's politics. I asked this following one of your comments. You disregarded that request completely. That's rude.

    Much like forums, of which you've moderated several, comments threads need to have some semblence of order. While I certainly don't mind hearing dissenting opinions, they should be on topic. And the topic was CM's strengths and weaknesses AS A WRITER.

    If I ever have a large enough community of readers and commenters, I'll probably have occasional open threads, where any topic goes. This is not yet the case.

    Finally, I'll respond to whatever comments I bloody well choose to. I value your participation in my comments threads, but comments designed to troll for my replies by pissing me off are not welcome.

  8. I only came across the responses this morning – didn't really think anyone would reply to my post and certainly not take it as my intending a personal insult/offence to anyone. And I'd like to apologise to Didi for posting it here inappropriately, which I didn't realise at the time was the case.

    I wasn't talking about anyone specific or making personal comments, and I'm sorry it was misunderstood that way.


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