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China Mieville

Warren Ellis is like a Writer’s Henry Rollins…

…only probably with more swearing and more caffeine.

The comics, tv, novel, and essay writer Warren Ellis makes a regular appearance in these blog pages, I guess. Along with China Mieville, Robert Macfarlane, Laurie Penny, Rebecca Solnit, Catherynne M. Valente and others, he’s one of a sort of constant circle of ‘omigod, how did they do that’ writers that I think with. It’s good to find other people playing in the same sandpit as you are – and it’s good, I think, to have living people you can admire. Shows that it can be done, scrobbling this creative life together out of wordscraps and notebooks and long-distance, glitchy Skype calls.

In particular, I’m thinking about his recent experiments with status updates – a daily ‘I AINT’NT DEAD YET!’ which could be pictures or updates or what have you. Short, tiny snapshots of a daily instance. If I were to get my act together to do something similar, these are the reasons wherefore:

  • It’s minimal. Almost like a fake ghost-life. Not the full build out of a virtual life that you have in say, Facebook, but a shadow of the real that recognizes that it is a shadow, if that makes any sense to anyone but me.
  • It’s like a tiny message in the bottle, every day.
  • It’ll keep my singular, regular, and darling Googlecrawlerbot happy.
  • I’d get to be arty. I always used to like the more personal status-y things you got in social media – far more so than the actual writing of the damn diary entries. Y’know the sort of thing: song-of-the-day, current-mood, currently-reading, status, etcetera. Ghosty throwaway stuff maybe, but makes the net seem a little less lonely.
  • Brain attention capacity at 10% only.

So, while I think about it for a bit – here’s a snapshot of the sort of things I could say:

Miéville Reader Thoughts

To continue where we left off [a post a day? I apologise to my singular Googlebot for all the extra work] we can talk about some of the threads that run through China’s work.

A Critique of Modernity

Especially true for TC&C, Last Days of New Paris, and the Bas-Lag series. Modernity can be simplified as everything that happened from the Enlightenment onwards; the Industrial Revolution, mass production and consumption, the ascent of materialist science and secular society. It’s usually valorized as a ‘victory of Reason’ over our supposed superstitious and feudal past. It has many critics however, and to this list I would add a large chunk of China Miéville’s books.

Read More →

…And Talking of the Beeb…

Being one of those rare birds that doesn’t even own a tv, and has a foraging relationship to broadcast media at best – I have just noticed that China Mieville’s The City and the City was adapted for BBC2. And it’s over, goddamit. I guess I’ll have to wait for it to reach a wider distribution somehow *sigh.

I was pleased that David Morrissey has the lead role as Detective Tyador Borlu in the fictional European city of Beszel, especially after his brooding portrayals as the Duke of Norfolk in The Other Boleyn Girl or Walking Dead’s the Governor, and that he apparently wondered “how the hell are they going to film this!?” when interviewed about TC&C. I’m no filmmaker, but I love the idea of every project pushing the boundaries in some way or another.

Things I love about TC&C – it’s rooted in crime-noir, but is still (for me) undeniably a mythic book. Myth in the St. Ursula Le Guin sense; that it speaks of real things in a hyper-real way. The book conjures up a fictional European city-state with all the associated crazy-arse histories, the implicit and overt prejudices and that sense of urban claustrophobia. It’s been cited next to Kafka and Camus (more Camusian, in my view) in that oeuvre of European Existentialist/Modernist fiction.

If TC&C tickles your Mieville, then I suggest reading The Last Days of New Paris next. Totally different, but it kinda follows that critical study of the European imagination.

*I tell you, I am only half-joking when I talk about writing a China Mieville Reader. Now, if only Verso or Zero Books would commission it… 😀




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