Tag Archives: China Mieville

Whale song

Maybe you got flogged through Moby-Dick in high school and the experience left you scarred. Maybe you’ve seen one of the many film versions, which range from okay (John Huston’s version, undermined by the bizarre miscasting of Gregory Peck as Ahab), to hilarious (the John Barrymore version, in which the Cap comes to terms with his obsession and goes on to lead a happy life), to simply mediocre (all the rest). So how about having a parade of actors and writers read you the whole thing, chapter by chapter, on whatever device you care to use? How about listening to a chapter with China Mieville? Or maybe try a chapter with Benedict Cumberbatch, if only to get an idea of what he’ll sound like as Smaug whe the second Hobbit installment rolls out next Christmas? Believe me, you’ll be glad you gave it a try. Start here.

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Friday finds

This talk by David Simon, the man behind The Wire and Treme, really touches on a sore spot for me. He talks about how The New York Times refused to review his book Homicide because it was “a regional book” — i.e., not set in New York City. I’m surprised he was able to find a publisher at all. When my agent started marketing The Last Three Miles to publishers, we heard the R word over and over again. Here was a book about the transformation of America by the automobile, a book about the first superhighway project in America, starring a political boss with enough clout to intimidate Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but it happened in New Jersey so it was a “regional” story. If Jesus ever does come back, he better not make his appearance in Hackensack — nobody would cover it.

In part because I’m enjoying the hell out of China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station, I decided to link back to this very interesting Crooked Timber seminar on Mieville’s Iron Council. I can see what John Holbo is getting at when he says that Mieville wants to give fantasy its first novel with the gritty visual density of Blade Runner, though I might point out that the vividly described, multilayered squalor of Lankhmar made Fritz Leiber’s heroic fantasies stand out as far back as the Sixties and Seventies. Leiber’s obvious relish for city life went against the grain of Tolkien-derived pastoralist fantasies, and even the briefest adventure of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser made Lankhmar seem inhabited in a way Minas Tirith or Edoras never did.

Here’s a place I want to visit next time I’m out California way.

Times like these require a real take-charge kind of hero. In other words, times like these require — Godzilla.

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Friday finds

GW shark

Poems for Shark Week.

Is self-publishing a good route to landing a book contract? Check the numbers for yourself.

With publishing contracts, as with so many other deals, the large print giveth and the small print taketh away.

The Crooked Timber seminar on George Scialabba, all in one place for some quality reading time.

Harry Potter and the cheesy narrative lapses.

Which Hugo nominees would make good movies?

When Bob Dylan met Michael Jackson.

When Bat Segundo met China Mieville.

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