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China Mieville
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half the man he used to be
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i've been meaning to check this writer out, can anyone please recommend me a couple good ones to start with?
 
Posts: 411 | Registered: May 11, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I always recommend starting with Looking for Jake. It's short stories, a handful of poems, and a novella, and encompasses a lot of the weird woolly wonderful that makes Mieville tick. If you don't like this book, you don't like Mieville, pretty much.

Beyond that, Perdido Street Station sort of sets the scene for his main world, although the only constant in that world is change. And try Un Lund Dun if you're more into young adult stuff.


__________
AJGraeme
"Why are there ghosts in the kitchen punching each other in the balls?" - Aidan, "Being Human"
"Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried."
- G.K. Chesterton

My moderator voice is red.
 
Posts: 48708 | Location: Concord, NH, USA | Registered: July 20, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
half the man he used to be
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"looking for jake" and "perdido street station", thanks!!

*trundles off to library website*
 
Posts: 411 | Registered: May 11, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Goofy Beast
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Looking forward to your thoughts on Embassytown, Murphy. (You've read The City & the City, right?)


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We scraped along like rats, but now we will soar like eagles... eagles on pogo sticks!
 
Posts: 10887 | Location: Switzerland | Registered: September 05, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
is imperfectly illuminated
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Got about 1/4 of the way through then moved house and I haven't found the copy again yet, but I'm putting shelves up and will be able to empty the cardboard boxes from the attic, and I hope it'll be there. Then it'll be first on my list.

quote:
Originally posted by Dweller in Darkness:
... Perdido Street Station sort of sets the scene for his main world, although the only constant in that world is change.

and this, in a nutshell is why I like the worlds of Mieville. So much of fantasy is ossified, and the story is about re-establishing the status quo... subtext of 'people should know their place'.

SPOILER ALERT:
This is why I loved Iron Council... it's flawed, but it shows just how the awakening of an industrial age goes hand in hand with an increase in social movements.

In Kraken, there is a certain amount of re-assertion of the status quo, and fewer people die than usual, but because it's set in the 'real' world rather than his fantasy realm, it's got a different angle on things - instead of viewing a society developing through magic and industry, it's viewing the world of faith, so the vernacular is different.

Love the 'angel of memory' concept.

I gather embassytown is more a sci-fi concept than his previous stuff. I'll be intrigued.


---------------
*is currently impressed*
 
Posts: 8147 | Location: London, England | Registered: July 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Goofy Beast
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quote:
Originally posted by Murphy:
I gather embassytown is more a sci-fi concept than his previous stuff. I'll be intrigued.

It is, although the sci-fi is closely linked to linguistic/philosophical concepts (Sapir-Whorf etc.). It doesn't have the strong political slant of, say, Iron Council, but political commentary is there around the edges. And it's less baroque than the earlier novels, while still evoking a fictional world with great success.


__________
We scraped along like rats, but now we will soar like eagles... eagles on pogo sticks!
 
Posts: 10887 | Location: Switzerland | Registered: September 05, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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About 3 chapters into Embassytown. I admit, I'm a sf snob: if a book about alien languages were written by Banks, Stephenson, or Egan, I'd be absolutely up for it. But Mieville as an ideas writer, not so sure. There was a whiff of pomo wankery, comparisons with Derrida, which would've been insufferable. So, read the first chapter, looked at some Amazon reviews, okay.

Mieville's done the homework, there are standard measurements for duration like kilohours, megahours, though "sidereal shenanigans," ie years are also used. I already disagree with some stuff, like Hosts can't comprehend recordings, can only understand Language coming from minds, yet telepathy is specifically rejected. But it's all well-written, and a good, challenging read.

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Posts: 2627 | Location: Manila | Registered: October 15, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
is imperfectly illuminated
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quote:
Originally posted by Thirith & His Enormous Tibia:
It is, although the sci-fi is closely linked to linguistic/philosophical concepts (Sapir-Whorf etc.).

Run Sapir-Whorf by me... the phrase is familiar, I'm sure I encountered it in my degree, but academia is a long way back for me now. Is it something about language determining rather than merely reflecting mindset? (newspeak and marain and all that jazz?)

Just read the first chapter of Embassytown, and like most Mieville it takes me a little while to zone in on it... was the same with every other one of his I've read.


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*is currently impressed*
 
Posts: 8147 | Location: London, England | Registered: July 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Goofy Beast
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quote:
Originally posted by Murphy:
Run Sapir-Whorf by me... the phrase is familiar, I'm sure I encountered it in my degree, but academia is a long way back for me now. Is it something about language determining rather than merely reflecting mindset? (newspeak and marain and all that jazz?)

That's basically it, although in Embassytown Miéville takes it further than that, in interesting ways.


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We scraped along like rats, but now we will soar like eagles... eagles on pogo sticks!
 
Posts: 10887 | Location: Switzerland | Registered: September 05, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
is imperfectly illuminated
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It's all coming back, I'm pretty sure I wrote essays on that stuff way back when.

China was on Start the Week, a major BBC show today. He gets props for a sci-fi/fantasy writer!


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*is currently impressed*
 
Posts: 8147 | Location: London, England | Registered: July 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I read King Rat earlier this year, and just started Kraken yesterday. So far I like it. Yay for libraries!


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Posts: 5271 | Location: Sacramento, CA, US | Registered: August 17, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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China Mieville talking about science fiction. I'm reduced to sputtering outrage, feel another sf > fantasy rant coming on.

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Posts: 2627 | Location: Manila | Registered: October 15, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Bring it on. I agree in part with what Mieville said, so I'm curious to see what you disagree with.


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AJGraeme
"Why are there ghosts in the kitchen punching each other in the balls?" - Aidan, "Being Human"
"Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried."
- G.K. Chesterton

My moderator voice is red.
 
Posts: 48708 | Location: Concord, NH, USA | Registered: July 20, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I blog-vented, but ok, there's plenty of wrong in Mieville's talk. He says "cognition" a lot, and in odd ways, making me want to cry out "The word doesn't mean what you think it means!" But anyhow. The important phrase is "the cognition effect."

quote:
Sf uses apparently cognitively logical rigorous scientific register, it may well use this as an invaluable way of being sf, but the scientificness is not the source of the cognition effect... it's not accuracy that matters, but the appearance of command over the language of science... I would want to shift the emphasis. I don't think it's the language of science that makes it sf, nor the command of that language, it is the appearance of the command


No. Fail. The Sokal hoax is not science, or science fiction, or meta-anything. It was just a hoax.

After listening to all 7 parts of the talk twice, it's clear that Mieville doesn't know a damn thing about science, and precious little about science fiction. Further.

quote:
The cognition effect is a function of charismatic authority. It is the surrender of the reader to the authority of the text and the authority of the author function... the cognition effect is about surrendering the terrain of supposed conceptual logic and rigor to a cadre of expert author functions.


Never mind sf, most reading doesn't work that way, except for the uncritical, passive sort. How many times have you been reading, maybe not even all that critically, when something just jumps out as wrong? Does Mieville think that readers are open-mouthed gullible stooges? Rewinding a bit to wrap it up.

quote:
Science fiction becomes something done with language by someone to someone


Bravo, Sherlock. Mieville thinks sf, and apparently science itself, is a magic spell, an incantation invoked with sciencey jargon. Thus the talk of surrendering to charismatic authority and priestly author functions.

I read a tongue-in-cheek article once, facetiously suggesting that instead of the current model of open debate, publication, criticism, and peer review, science should switch to secret society mode. Initiation, robes, rituals, and when you've advanced to the appropriate level, you're given the Secret Truth of Evolution. Maybe then people would appreciate and cherish the sublime elegance of scientific theories that are freely available in grade-school textbooks and Wikipedia.

Anyway. Mieville is talking bollocks. Larry Niven wrote Ringworld, fans nailed the science errors, Niven updated stuff in reprints and subsequent titles. No priestly authority, when you're wrong, you're wrong, and especially in sf, you will be called out on it. Mieville also neglects to address how many sf authors are from hard science backgrounds, or were previously or currently practicing scientists.

TL DR: Sf and fantasy are fuzzy sets with a lot of overlap. Hard sf is the core of science fiction. Mieville doesn't understand sf at all. For a better overview of the field, see Heinlein's "Ray Guns and Rocket Ships."

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Posts: 2627 | Location: Manila | Registered: October 15, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by ZoneSeek:
TL DR: Sf and fantasy are fuzzy sets with a lot of overlap. Hard sf is the core of science fiction. Mieville doesn't understand sf at all. For a better overview of the field, see Heinlein's "Ray Guns and Rocket Ships."

Yeah, his reach definitely exceeded his grasp.

The thing that struck me in his talk, and maybe this was just me bringing my struggling to find his voice writeriness to it, is that the audience can be a passive component of the writing process, even in science fiction.


__________
AJGraeme
"Why are there ghosts in the kitchen punching each other in the balls?" - Aidan, "Being Human"
"Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried."
- G.K. Chesterton

My moderator voice is red.
 
Posts: 48708 | Location: Concord, NH, USA | Registered: July 20, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I am currently reading Railsea. Great stuff, although Mieville's talents do not lie in artfulness of prose.
 
Posts: 5530 | Location: Pittsburgh, PA | Registered: June 28, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Goofy Beast
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Not too keen on Kraken so far, which I'm about 2/3 into. As usually, Mieville is highly inventive, but the plot is drab and the characters one-dimensional - and for once it doesn't feel like Mieville's got anything much to say. The book feels like warmed-up Gaiman to me...


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We scraped along like rats, but now we will soar like eagles... eagles on pogo sticks!
 
Posts: 10887 | Location: Switzerland | Registered: September 05, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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