What’s the Big Deal About China Mieville? In my Opinion, Nothing!

For some years now, a certain author by the name of China Mieville has been revered as the best thing to come into the world of science fiction and fantasy since the likes of Isaac Asimov or Robert Jordan, seeing him as the pinnacle of what is cutting edge and brilliantly written, to the point where he can do nothing wrong, and every book he publishes is an instant success and wins plenty of awards.

I’ve tried Mieville twice, with The City and the City which I started and soon became bored with after giving it a good fifty pages; and with The Kraken, which I struggled all the way through and was disappointed by the end.  Mieville just comes off as too full of himself, with his prose that often feels purple and overdone to the point of annoyance.  My wife has read and tried Perdido Street Station and Un Lun Dun, and we seem to agree with the same feelings about this author.  He also seems to be ripping of Neil Gaiman a little too much, who does what he does with skill and a resulting enjoyment, while the result with Mieville is something pushed too far.

I was delighted to recently discover that there are some other people who feel similar with regards to China Mieville: the guys at Penny Arcade.  They recently did a comic about it, as well as an insightful and well-written post about it.

And after reading the summary for Railsea, I know I’ll be passing on it.  Really, talking moles?


4 thoughts on “What’s the Big Deal About China Mieville? In my Opinion, Nothing!

  1. We have different tastes, I guess, but I applaud negative reviews of writers I enjoy: you force me to re-think some of my own biases.

  2. I discovered Miéville by the end of last year, while I was looking for a new author in the fantasy-genre after reading George R.R. Martin’s 5 published books in A Song of Ice and Fire and finding them disappointing to no end (but that is another story, I could write a book about why they’re rubbish). Since then I’ve read King Rat, Perdido Street Station, The Scar, The City & The City, Kraken and Embassytown. Currently reading Iron Council.

    And what is the big deal with Miéville?

    What the big deal about China Miéville is, is the following: his prose that creates an atmosphere almost on its own, his incredibly well-realised settings (and cities in particular) that almost becomes a central character of the story, and his abilities to vary himself and find different voices between books. None of his book reads like another, even though they share some elements of prose and common themes.

    I finished The City & The City earlier this week and it is one of these books which you realise that you loved when you’ve finished it. It took me 100 pages before I felt that I was stuck. Now I’m going back and re-reading passages, finding how brilliant it really was. The allegorical possibility of the setting is so tempting, but he never encourages that kind of reading, and I respect him so much for that.

    Kraken is the least great of the books I’ve read. I still enjoyed it, but I feel it is the one to read when you’ve read every other of his books (if you know what I mean). King Rat was okay as a whole (with some fantastic moments) and a promising debut, while the others have been excellent overall. I will not give reviews of the fantastic Perdido Street Station, The Scar and Embassytown here though – that would take me at least thrice the space I’ve already used.

    I found Miéville to be exactly the author I was looking for, but I could also see why people wouldn’t like his work. Your criticism is shallow and since you haven’t read more than you have, and not either Perdido Street Station, The Scar or Embassytown, or even The City & The City in its whole, I find you haven’t really got much to judge him on.

    Expressing opinions is always okay, and not joining the praise of an author too. I would however recommend you too give one of these books I’ve mentioned above a real chance. Sure, the world is full of great books to read – but it is also full of great books that you can’t afford to drop after 50 pages. Who knows; it might pay off?

  3. I can dig it. Though I loved “City & The City” and “Railsea” for their fully-developed and often bizarre worlds (both got four-stars from me on Good Reads), “Perdido” made me laugh. It was over-wrought. Too bad. His writing got in the way of me appreciating what should have been a great story of a city besieged by a creepy monster.

    So I’m sort of split on Mieville. He’s doing something different. And not doing (yet another) epic rehash of northern European mythos. And know the future of the genre has to lay down that road.

    But the purple prose,,, Not so much.

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