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  1. #1

    Thoughts on China Mieville

    Thus far, I've only read one of his books, Perdido Street Station and it wasn't a bad novel at all. I read him because he's gotten a lot of buzz as a fantasist, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

    I have to admit that while the novel's world and concepts were intriguing, it was missing something for me. And after a while it occurred to me what it was...I didn't particularly care for any of the characters. They weren't terribly characterized I just...didn't care.

    In a way, he reminded me of Neil Gaiman, but with stronger conceptualization and far less likable characters.

    Are all his novels this way? What do folks think of his works in general?
    Last edited by Rob B; August 29th, 2012 at 11:22 AM.

  2. #2
    Registered User MattNY's Avatar
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    I have only read two of his novels..the aforementioned Perdido Street Station and The Scar. I view both of them as two of the better novels I have ever read in my life and look forward to sampling more of his work in the future.

    Personally, I find his characters to be extremely likable. In Perdido, the relationship between Isaac and Yagharek is something I can recall to mind with relative ease, despite reading the book a few years ago now. In my old age of 33, that is pretty impressive. In particular,
    Spoiler:
    the ending was extremely impactful to me due to the relationship they had built with one another throughout the entirety of the novel. When Isaac truly understood, at the end, the impact of Yag's crimes, it made the choice in front of him truly heartbreaking.


    Despite my enjoyment of the character in his books (The Scar fits the same mold for me as well), I do agree that it isn't necessarily the selling point to a Mieville novel. I feel like his world building ranks him at the top with few peers to challenge him. My reading is still limited though, both in the genre and for his works, so perhaps that will change. But from the two I have read, I feel he is one the best authors I have ever read, regardless of genre.
    Last edited by MattNY; August 21st, 2012 at 05:46 PM.

  3. #3
    I have read three, PSS, The Scar and Iron Council. PSS and The Scar were amazing and I had no problem emphathizing with the charcters. Iron Council was nowhere near as good. It was so busy trying to make a statement that it forgot it was a story. No strong characters to anchor a mostly aimless story.

    I plan on reading more someday, hopefully they will be better then Iron Council.

  4. #4
    Registered User Jeroen's Avatar
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    I've just finished Perdido Street Station and I thought it was one of the best books I have read in years. Although the main character remained a bit vague in my imagination, I really liked his relationships with Yakharek and Lin, and the world was so imaginative. There is so much to like in this world, the Khepri, the Wyrmen, the Weaver, etc. And the story overall had a great ending!

  5. #5
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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  6. #6
    Registered User gainespost's Avatar
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    I read "The Scar" first, because my brother gave it to me. 'Went back and read "Perdido Street Station," and it was sufficiently stand-alone. I love Mieville's dark, twisted creations. Very cool world, and pretty cool plots, too.

    I recently bought a copy of "Un-Lun-Dun." Without spoiling the story, did any of you who liked his other books like that one? I'll read it regardless of positive or negative reviews; I simply need help deciding how high on my to-read list I should place it :-)

    Thanks!

  7. #7
    Registered User gainespost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob B View Post

    Ah, sorry. Forums newbie here; I hadn't read those. But to be fair, those forum threads to which you refer are 1.5 and 4.5 years old, respectively. Give us newbies a break! :-p

  8. #8
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    But to be fair, those forum threads to which you refer are 1.5 and 4.5 years old, respectively. Give us newbies a break!
    What?

    Gaines: are you complaining that there's *too much* stuff here at SFFWorld, or that we've been here *too long* for newbies to handle? *gasp*

    That'll teach us for running for more than a decade!

    Actually, I did pop in to make a serious point, because as you say 'you're a (relative) newbie': unlike some places, we don't mind people resurrecting old threads. Often questions and ideas are answered there already, or they may give us something that we want to pick up to talk about again.

    Poor ol' Rob has the task of reminding people about such threads: or in some cases like yourself, perhaps just pointing them out. Not a criticism, it's meant to be helpful!

    Mark
    Mark

  9. #9
    Registered User gainespost's Avatar
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    No, no; not complaining at all. I love that there's so much to read here. And thank you very much for pointing out the previous related threads, Rob B! I was just reacting, jokingly, to the "deja vu" phrase and stating (perhaps out of envy?) that some of us haven't been here long enough to remember, or haven't gotten around to reading all the years' worth of past threads.

    Thanks heaps for the info :-)

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by gainespost View Post
    No, no; not complaining at all. I love that there's so much to read here. And thank you very much for pointing out the previous related threads, Rob B! I was just reacting, jokingly, to the "deja vu" phrase and stating (perhaps out of envy?) that some of us haven't been here long enough to remember, or haven't gotten around to reading all the years' worth of past threads.

    Thanks heaps for the info :-)
    Don't worry about those old timers yelling at you to get off their grass. Some of us like to see new threads even if they are a rehash of something discussed three years ago. They generate new discussion and often include new people into a discussion. What poster wants to open a thread that might be 10 pages long, anything you post in there will get lost.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Rob B View Post
    Mmm, my query is not really the same as either of those threads, as I was more interested in knowing whether or not his other works were as...removed...as I felt Perdido Street Station was, not asking about reading order nor looking to pose any questions to the author for a long-past interview.

    That said, it seems perhaps that I'm in the minority when it comes to having a disconnect with his characters (at least in the book I have read). I didn't feel close to the main characters of Perdito Street Station at all, and wasn't particularly heartbroken at the end, though I can understand why he/the story wanted me to be.

    Perhaps it's just a matter of an author and a reader not fully synching.
    Last edited by Rob B; August 29th, 2012 at 11:23 AM.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Pendragon View Post
    I have to admit that while the novel's world and concepts were intriguing, it was missing something for me.
    I can't really answer your question since I've only read PSS. I loved the world-...er... city-building and his language. His descriptions of New Crobuzon have a very visceral feel to them. But I hated the ending. Given that, and my understanding that he pushes his political views in some of his other novels, I decided I was done (at least for now) with Mr. Mieville.

  13. #13
    Vanaeph Westsiyeed's Avatar
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    To answer the original question, I think that if you thought "PSS" was missing something and will be hoping for more from other novels, you may be disappointed. PSS and The Scar are pretty much unanimously voted his best novels. That said, The City & The City (in my opinion) is quite different to all his other novels in that his writing style is much more mainstream with few "Mieville-isms", eg the baroque style so prevalent in the Bas-Lag novels, creating new words and new ways to construct sentences, etc.

    In general though I think his strengths are language, world building (and his imagination) and originality.

    I've read all his books and decided it would be better to show my ratings in a graph! ->



    I was very disappointed in Iron Council (and it wasn't anything political, just that it was a bloated mess with little direction) and Kraken for similar reasons though liked it more. It was nice to read Railsea and have him back in form!

  14. #14
    Registered User OberynMartell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Pendragon View Post
    I have to admit that while the novel's world and concepts were intriguing, it was missing something for me. And after a while it occurred to me what it was...I didn't particularly care for any of the characters. They weren't terribly characterized I just...didn't care.
    I wouldn't say his characterisation is poor, but it is uneven.

    Protagonists are lovingly well-drawn, with well-developed personalities, conflicts, interests and obsessions, and detailed, interesting back-stories.

    But antagonists, even major recurring ones like Mayor Bentham Rudgutter, are cardboard villains with no special motivations, no blind/soft spots, no redeeming feature, no twisted idealism, nor even misguided family loyalty. They're just soulless cutouts, even (or especially) when we see them from their own POV.

    In that, China Meiville is very like Steven Erikson, only more so.

    His strength is very much his world-building - his dazzling creativity, his breadth of knowledge, his shrewed sociological insight, and his virtuoso synthesis of baffling wonders and horrors across many scales into a single plausible semi-coherent city-state of New Crobuzon, and its world of Bas Lag.

    I love his work, but it certainly has weak points...

  15. #15
    Thanks for all the responses guys, this definitely was a big help. Despite his critical acclaim, I think I will hold off on pursuing any more Mieville for the time being.

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