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mike js

An evening with China Mieville

I saw China Mieville yesterday, at an event organised by the local bookshop, to mark the publication of his new novel, Railsea. He gave a short reading from his book and then answered questions.

He was engaging, very interesting, and funny. There were a few youngsters there; his new book is said to be of interest to younger readers. But China said he thought it was for all ages, and that it really only meant the topic led him to think of his younger self when writing.

The story is a fantasy, and sounds suitably weird and a little bit daft (by design). It owes something to Herman Melville - no-one brought up the similarity in authors names. Someone did ask if the title owed something to Ursula Le Guin, and China said yes. He mentioned many authors who have influenced him; quite a few I know nothing about. He came across as very thoughtful and passionate about writing. And politics.

He was asked about his favourite of his own books. He said that he was fond of Iron Council, though he knows it is flawed and not a favourite among readers. He thinks his most complete book, in terms of being close to the ideal he imagined, is The City and the City.

The only book of his I have read is The City and the City, which I think is brilliant. Incidentally, he described this as a crime novel, respectful of the genre, but  with elements of the fantastic because that is his form.

I find myself with a copy of Railsea. I am not sure the weird idea and the fantasy entirely appeals to me, but his reading of it was rather good! And it is one of his shorter works, which appeals to the lazy reader that I am. Embarassed The book has some illustrations, by China himself.

All in all, a very interesting bloke, and clearly someone very bright and full of energy and ideas. Who knows what he will come up with next.
Ann

I've read something by China Mieville, mike, but I can't remember it - I just remember the author's name and that I enjoyed it. I must look back at my library record and see if I can identify it. I read a lot of fantasy from the library.
Green Jay

Re: An evening with China Mieville

mike js wrote:
The only book of his I have read is The City and the City, which I think is brilliant. Incidentally, he described this as a crime novel, respectful of the genre, but  with elements of the fantastic because that is his form.



Me too. Can still remember a lot about it, which is quite something for me!

This sounds like a good event. I hadn't heard about his new book.
MikeAlx

It's pitched as a Young Adult novel, and is set on a world where railway lines criss-cross the globe and people live on trains, whilst beneath the viaducts huge beasties lurk. Sounds like great fun to me.

I was really impressed with The City & The City, and mean to get round to his Bas-Lag novels at some point. He has an amazing imagination combined with a sharp intelligence. I've heard a few interviews with him and he always comes across very well.
mike js

Thanks for the summary of Railsea, Mike; I rather forgot to give one in the original post. Ann, I'm glad you enjoyed his writing, whichever book it was!

Green Jay, I did enjoy the event, though I was too reserved to ask a question myself.
Mikeharvey

China Mieville’s novel RAILSEA (2012) is a remarkable feat of imagination.  He has created a fantastic parallel world almost entirely covered by a tangled network of rails on which travels a great variety of trains occupied by hunters, salvagers, pirates and others.  In the land beneath the rails live monstrous creatures like giant moles and burrowing owls. In the Upsky fly great winged creatures.  Our young hero, Sham Yes ap Soorap, is a trainee medic on board the moletrain, Medes.  This vehicle is under the captainship of Naphi who is searching relentlessly for a giant white mole, Mocker-Jack, which she calls her philosophy.  The adventures of Sham in this wonderfully imagined world as he journeys to the limits of the Railsea, and the story splits into three separate quests, is terrifically entertaining.  Mielville’s invention never flags and I turned the pages eager to know what fresh delights he had to offer.  It’s a beautifully written novel. CM is a great stylist. His prose is very modern and innovative, full of humour, well-drawn idiosyncratic characters, and curious linguistic curlicues, it’s a great pleasure to read.  Each section of the book is preceded by delightful drawings of the weird denizens that inhabit Railsea. Under the narrative surface I suspect the book is an elaborate metaphysical metaphor. The hardly concealed parallels with ‘Moby Dick’ and the book’s final chapters, which reminded me of Philip Pullman’s ‘Northern Lights’, suggest this.  Can any other reader elucidate?
Green Jay

Mike, that has encouraged me to read Railsea. I looked up his books prior to The City & The City but they didn't look quite my cup of tea. I loved the Phillip Pullman trilogy anyway. Anyd your saying it is beautifuly written is a real help as i stumble on less well written stuff and get caught up in the poor style and for me it gets in the way of the rest of it.

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