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Green Gogol

Mieville made me feel empty

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OP is not alone.  I appreciated Perdido for its prose and a couple of its concepts but when I finished it, there was no momentum propelling me to read the next book.  My favorite of his, strangely enough, is King Rat, but it also helps that I was very much into the music scene that it's partially set in. 

I got to meet and hang out with CM when he was on the book tour for The Scar.  In conversation he expressed a disdain for Tolkien and was trying to create a world that was completely the opposite.  He was also greatly influenced by M. John Harrison who isn't known for his upbeat tone.  (If you've read the Viriconium series, it starts off as a sort of pessimistic Space Opera/Space Fantasy series and soon devolves into a surreal and depressing fog).  When he signed my copy of PSS he signed it "Read M. John Harrison...read him now." 

I started a couple of his other books and didn't finish them.   He's currently on my "try again someday" list.  I have a good pile of his books in my library.  I guess it means something that I haven't sold them.  It's funny that when I hung out with him 16-17 years ago he said that even after his first couple books RPG companies and TV producers had made overtures.  I always thought there'd be a Bas-Lag RPG.  I was surprised when I saw his name on a Pathfinder sourcebook from Paizo. 

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there's probably a bit of brecht in mieville--the object is to disengage the default emotional reactions and instead engage the intellect.

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Posted (edited)

I love how most of the Mieville I've read has some part in the narrative where a slumbering, hinted at supernatural or alien force awakens and becomes a major source of conflict:

 

like the Scar in The Scar, the Cacotopic Stain and Tesh in IC, and the god/drug Ez in Embassytown

 

Love the way it amps up the tension and pivots the whole narrative in a new direction.  Works for me because the characters always seem to have their world and its properties so well studied and mastered, (although there are plenty of clues that this isn't the case) and when the normal order starts breaking down it just really works for me.

Edited by larrytheimp

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 slumbering, hinted at supernatural or alien force awakens and becomes a major source of conflict

this is also a fair description of some events in 

Spoiler

the city and the city, kraken, railsea, last days of new paris, and plenty of the short fictions. 

his master text for this sort of thing is probably this census-taker, the subtlety of which, however, is asymptotic to opacity, sadly.

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I cannot get into The Last Days of New Paris. I've tried to start it several times over the last year and haven't made it past page 2. Someone please tell me I just need to push through... like to page 10. I don't like all his books equally, but never had any problem getting started before.

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my comments here, ep. last days came across to me as one of the stronger mieville texts overall.  its ideas on surrealism might hint at his general approach to fiction writing.

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5 hours ago, sologdin said:

 slumbering, hinted at supernatural or alien force awakens and becomes a major source of conflict

this is also a fair description of some events in 

  Hide contents

the city and the city, kraken, railsea, last days of new paris, and plenty of the short fictions. 

his master text for this sort of thing is probably this census-taker, the subtlety of which, however, is asymptotic to opacity, sadly.

Ha, cool those are the Mieville books I haven't read yet.  Well, I've read most of Looking for Jake and 3 Moments but probabaly going for City and the City or Kraken next, since I have copies of them.  

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1 hour ago, sologdin said:

my comments here, ep. last days came across to me as one of the stronger mieville texts overall.  its ideas on surrealism might hint at his general approach to fiction writing.

Oi, Solo. If you think so, I'll push through although I suspect your review may be just as good. I think maybe too that I resent what I see as a sort of forced reinterpretation-politicization of art. Such things feel gratingly unsubtle at best.

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I enjoyed Perdido Street Station.  Unfortunately, what happened with Lin kinda tore me up.

Bittersweet endings are fine with me, but such a cold finality wasn't my cup of tea, shall we say.  Fantastic imagination, though. 

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Posted (edited)
On 1/26/2019 at 5:40 PM, Green Gogol said:

For years now I’ve had Perdido Street Station on my shelf. I started reading the book and stopped multiple times.

Then I decided to push through. It took me a while, I put the book down for months at a time, but I finally reached the end. And I felt empty. Not satisfied, not happy, not disappointed or angry. Just empty. The story just kind of ended on a whimper, but I was glad it was finally over.

Some parts were really interesting, some others were just plain boring, some chapters were page turners while others were a slog to get through. At first I was delighted by his style. But by the end, I was fed up with the endless descriptions. The book is 75% description and 25% plot. Now I love a good atmosphere in a book, but there is such a thing as too much atmosphere and not enough plot.

It’s as if I was preparing a spaghetti sauce, and i kept adding more oregano, more basilic, more laurel, and adding some more, and more, and a bit again, and again, until it was a mess of dried leaves with a little bit of tomato sauce hidden somewhere in there. 

And now I sit with The Scar in my hands, wondering if I should read it now, or in a few years, or just forget about Mieville altogether.

Congratulations on your perseverance.  I never made it.  There are two acclaimed sci-fi/fantasy writers I've never been able to appreciate despite repeated attempts:  Erikson and Mieville.  I never believe in their worlds so find myself in a kind of meta-suspension while reading, a floating astronaut unable to escape the vacuum for a welcoming planet.  I too have kindled The Scar sample but am hesitant to subject myself to the torture of fruitless escape attempts again.  If you do read the Scar I would likely benefit from the review of someone who came close to loathing Perdido Street Station as much as I did, so please let us know your thoughts!

Edited by Lady Barbrey

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On 7/17/2019 at 3:25 PM, sologdin said:

my comments here, ep. last days came across to me as one of the stronger mieville texts overall.  its ideas on surrealism might hint at his general approach to fiction writing.

Whoa, the disponibilite/receiver stuff you mentioned being Bakkeresque sounds cool, noticed a similar parallel to utteral/inutteral strings in Bakker and Embassytown's dual-steing language only being able to speak Truth.  

Will def check out New Paris

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Melville made me feel empty too. All that stuff about boats and whales. Boring, am I right?

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I really enjoyed The City and The City. He's a really talented writer. However, I've yet to get into any of his other work because I'm not really into "fantastic" sci-fi or fantasy.

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