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On China Mieville

A few years back if you had asked me who my favorite writer is I would have to think and then I would throw up a few names here and there but if you asked me now I would say China Mieville without the slightest hesitation. 
What I like about Mieville is the way his characters acquire skills, the way they explain their skills and the way they explore what they are passionate about. Mieville seems to understand that once you acquire a skill you tend to use in ways that would not have been thought of. Isaac in Perdido Street Station, Judah in Iron Council, Uther Doul in The Scar, Collinswood and to a certain extent Vardy in Kraken all have certain skills which they acquire with a mixture of intuition, study and of course being in the right place in the right time and of course they also happen to use the skills they acquire in many different contexts. I like the way the sideplots morph into something else and add unexpected turns and twists to an already intriguing tale.
The worlds he creates are fantastic. The beings that inhabit them even more so. The city of New Crobuzon and the land of Bas Lag is the best that I have read. There are to quote someone barely imagined vistas at every turn.
The monsters and the races he creates are drawn from various myths and legends but Mieville twists them to make them even more than what they are. Take Golems for instance. They are typically animate beings made out of inanimate objects. What Mieville does is ask the question that what if they could be more diverse. What if matter is a forced limitation. He makes Golems out of the day, night and even time. There are water beings called the Vodyanoi, Cactacae who are essentially extremely talking walking plants but he imbues them with strength and he almost always finds a way in which the abilities of races are utilized to their full in warfare. Its almost like a game where each race has their own strengths and weaknesses and special weapons exist to counter each race.
The monsters he creates are equally fantastic. There are handlingers which are as you might guess hands but they are parasitic and once they find a host they latch onto them imbuing them increased strength, fire breathing and so on. The scariest ones by far are the Slake Moths, beings which feed on the dreams of sentient beings and leave them in vegetative state soon after. The Avanc is a beast in the scar who is utilized to power an island of ships.
Mieville's endings are often criticized but I find them to be great. I guess his endings don't have a flash and a bang or the typical happy endings one is used to from fantasy books but when the novel is taken as a whole (and especially on rereading) they make sense. In Perdido Street Station the gangster villain Mr Motley has his plans fouled but he is still there at the end. There is no redemptive justice against him which sort of makes sense for a crime lord. The ending of Kraken is a stroke of genius. The idea that time might be a victim and that if no one ever thought of evolution, then no one would question religion  so that it would remain as is is brilliant. Iron Council probably has the most poetic ending that I have ever read. The train is standing with the iron council ready to do battle with the militants, bullets have just been shot. This scene is frozen in time and becomes a monument in the city of New Crobuzon.
Just a magnificent, brilliant (running out of adjectives) writer.  Thankfully he is still young. Gene Wolfe is 80 and he is still writing so I expect many more works of Gobsmacking brilliance from Mr Mieville.


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