The End Of Mieville: HERE BE SPOILERS!!!

Discussion in 'China Mieville' started by Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, Oct 28, 2004.

  1.  
    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy Knivesout no more

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    On another thread here, Caladan Brood mentioned that China Mieville seems to have a bit of a problem with ending his stories. I though it might be worth discussing this aspect of Mieville's books in a little more detail.

    Purely from memory, here are the endings of his four novels thus far and my comments (hence the SPOILER WARNING):

    King Rat: In the end, Saul comes to terms with his part-rodent nature, defeats the Pied Piper and also gives the evil old King Rat his come-uppance, gaining kingship over the rats and then telling the rats that they are now free to goven themselves. Nothing seems unresolved here, and the ending is even rather whimsical ("let's put the 'rat' back in 'fraternity").

    Perdido Street Station: Isaac and cohorts do eventually defeat those scary flying dream-eaters. But at great cost - Isaac is now a wanted man in New Crobuzon and must flee, his lover Lin is permanently crippled, mentally and (not as shocking as some people make out, since having one's wings removed brutally as punishment suggests a terrible crime) Yagharek, who was in so many ways the pivot for the plot, and an increasingly engaging character, is revealed as a man guilty of a terrible crime whether by human or Garuda standards. Again, I don't feel much is left hanging - the evil is vanquished, but there's more than one source of evil in the world, and great valour does not always lead to great rewards. Not a happy ending, but it is an ending.

    The Scar: Possibly the weakest ending. Much of the book centered around the Lovers' Quixotic quest for The Scar, but the book ends in this ambition being thwarted at the last minute, which is probably a good thing but feels like a bit of a let-down. On the hand, there are vivid characters here, and I suspect that the development of Tanner Sack's character does offer a certain sense of completion if not resolution to the overall story. Then again, the book begins with Bellis leaving New Crobuzon for the unknown, and ends with her finally getting to go back, so there is at least a definite end to it for her. Still, feels like a rather open ending, even weak.

    Iron Council: The whole point of the ending, I think, is the lack of immediate resolution. Realising that the revolt in New Crobuzon is doomed, has already failed and cannot be salvaged at this point, Lowe prevents the Perpetual Train from returning to what can only be a final crushing defeat for the people's cause. Instead, he uses his arcane powers to forever suspend the train and the Iron Council in time, serving as an eternal beacon to the common people of New Crobuzon. I think this may not be the climatic ending one may have expected, but is a definite and acceptable ending, telling us that sometimes, the idea of revolution is more important than the revolution itself.

    So that's my take on the ways in which Mieville's novels end. There's a certain lack of a traditional tying-all-threads and righting-all-wrongs ending, but I do feel that in each case a vital plot driver and thematic element has been brought to a resolution that makes a statement other than 'good has triumphed' or 'evil never dies' or 'true love prevails' etc, etc.

    What do you think? Am I being far too kind, and is this something he still needs to work on, as a relatively young writer, or is it worth speculating that some of the in-the-air feeling about his endings is on purpose, and purposeful?
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    Rane Longfox

    Rane Longfox Red Rane

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    Not looking at the Iron Council part;)

    As I think I've said before (probably in that other thread;)), I hate the ending of Perdido Street Station. Hate it. After a brilliant book, the ending is a complete let down, not to mention out of character for several of the participants. I liked Yagharek too, twas unfair:( I got the impression he had just tried to finish off the book really quicky, and put a twist in just for the sake of it without really thinking it through. Didn't work. At all. Nada. Nope. etc etc...

    The Scar's ending I thought was much better, though still not up to par with the rest of the book. It resolved several things nicely though, and I actually really liked the anticlimax of the whole thing:) A bizarre twist, yes, but much much better than the one at the end of PSS. And of course still leaving some mysteries, like that cactus bloke... or was he?;)
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    rune

    rune rune

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    I personally think Mieville ends his books in such a way as to leave them open for further development. Well that's the way I've been viewing them. Perhaps he is going to return to the characters in the future :)
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    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy Knivesout no more

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    I'm afraid I'll have to disagree with you on PSS, Cal.


    I liked Yag too - a lot, in fact. The passages that precede each section, for example, are told from his perspective, and establish a certain affinity with him as our guide and perhaps representative in New Crobuzon.

    However, he is a winged being who has had his wings amputated by his people as a punishment for a crime. This is somewhat equal to you or me having our legs amputated as punishment. Surely one must have known all along that Yag's crime must have been more than some petty transgression? How on earth is it out of character for someone who bears the mark of a great crime to turn out to be a criminal!

    He does seem to redeem himself by growing out of his self-absorption and helping Isaac overcome the terror that falls over the city. But in no way is he entitled to regain flight, and unilaterally reverse the verdict of his people, thereby belittling his very real crime. BTW, Yag seems to reappear in Iron Council - see if you can spot this one.

    As I've said, I liked this ending because I sense or know that this is how many real-life endeavours end - a mixed victory that hardly seems different from defeat in many specifics. It certainly is a downer ending rather an a satisfying climax. And yes, the last 50 pages or so do seem like a sudden realisation that the book has to be ended, so get on with it!

    Of course, it would be nice if Mieville's open endings allow him to re-visit certain characters and ideas later on. I know rune would like to know more about Uther Doul, and I'd certainly love to see more of Isaac. And even Bellis, or Tanner. He has said he never says no, so who knows...
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    rune

    rune rune

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    Of course, it would be nice if Mieville's open endings allow him to re-visit certain characters and ideas later on. I know rune would like to know more about Uther Doul, and I'd certainly love to see more of Isaac. And even Bellis, or Tanner. He has said he never says no, so who knows

    This would be great!
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    Rane Longfox

    Rane Longfox Red Rane

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    I much preferred the ending on Iron Council to PSS and The Scar, it was somehow more appropriate. Now I'm maybe more used to his style of ending books it wasn't quite as dissapointing, and this was one cliffhanger that felt rather appropriate:) Spoils the point of the whole book, maybe, but appropriate;)



    *******SPOILERS*******
    Point: How does the time golem still keep going after Joshua dies? Surely that would get rid of its energy source? And if not, surely its batteries will run out at some point?
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    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy

    Jayaprakash Satyamurthy Knivesout no more

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    Good question about the time-golem. I'll go re-read my copy of Iron Council and see if I can figure this one out.
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    Rane Longfox

    Rane Longfox Red Rane

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    Thanks. I didn't notice anything saying anything about it, but all his other golems drew power from him... Of course it's possible he hijacked some other power source. A nearby factory or similar?
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    Brys

    Brys New Member

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    I thought that the ending to Perdido Street Station (my favourite of his novels) was his weakest, while the Scar's endings and especially Iron Council's were decent. The Scar had a very dark, postmodern style ending that I think fits particularly well with Mieville's general style of anti-fantasy - very much what you would expect in an M John Harrison novel, or a Peake novel. Iron Council was even more this - typical of Mieville, focusing on how everything doesn't turn out right, that despite best intentions, things do go wrong.
    The revelations of Yagharek at the end of Perdido were brilliant, the deus ex machina of Jack Half-a-Prayer, less so.
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    Foxtale

    Foxtale Send in the foxes!

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    As much as I love her writing, I detest finishing the books because I always feel they will be a let down.
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    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

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    Errr...hate to be the one to break the news but China is a guy, unless he's not telling us something....:rolleyes:

    Not that gender has anything to do with brilliant writing of course and Mieville is one of my fav authors....:)
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    Foxtale

    Foxtale Send in the foxes!

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    <_< I always call him a girl. China just seems to be more of a feminine name no?
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    Brys

    Brys New Member

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    China Mieville's a guy. Apparently he's called China because his parents went through a book of cockney rhyming slang, and liked the look of China, which means "mate". As I said before, I think Mieville's endings are pretty good - they might seem anti-climactic, but I think that's the whole point. He's doing something new. If there were just big battles, deus ex machinas and happy endings to end his novels, they wouldn't be as good. The ending of Iron Council fills you with utter despair (which I prefer immensely to your average epic fantasy, all evil defeated, everyone lives happily ever after ending).
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    Milk

    Milk New Member

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    I liked his endings in all his books.

    I like anticlimactic endings but thats just me, I also like antiheroes, flawed heroes etc.or no heroes.
    Last edited: May 28, 2006
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    Argali

    Argali New Member

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    I just finished Perdido Street Station, and I have to say that the deus ex machina of Jack Half-a-Prayer absolutely ruined the book for me. Was he even mentioned at all before he materialized in that final firefight? His appearance was just one giant WTF for me. Can anyone help me out and explain him?
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    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    Actually, Jack is mentioned several times in the course of the book; he's a sort of folk hero that battles against the Parliament, undermining their authority, very much a New Crobuzon-style Dick Turpin. But, since he's so elusive, several of the characters believe he's nothing but a folk myth, until they encounter him there at the end. He's the figure that is seen standing in the distance whenever they are dealing with the constructs in the junkyard, so he's obviously been keeping an eye on this bunch a long time....
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    Foxtale

    Foxtale Send in the foxes!

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    As a quick mention, I think the time golem survives eternally because it stands outside of time and therefore draws its energy source from everywhen of Joshua's existence.
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    tori_bingham

    tori_bingham New Member

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    SPOILER







    Yag's crime should, however, be understood in the context of his people. The victim doesn't consider herself a victim, but rather someone who was wronged. There doesn't seem to be the same stigma attached to the act. That's not to say the act isn't wrong, but that it's wrong in a different way. Indeed, half the suffering of rape is psychological--and psychological suffering is largely contextual. If you've never believed rape diminishes you or makes you a victim, but that it is the same as, say, theft, you'd not have half the hang-ups about it. I often feel our society is unfair in labelling people victims, because, unwittingly, they're telling that person to feel ashamed, weak and dirty.
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    Thrax

    Thrax New Member

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    Now I've read the ending and see where people are coming from. My problem is not so much with revelation and with the outcome as how the logic is presented. It's presented as an unsolvable dilemma, but only because MiƩville discards of "mercy", "redemption" (narrowly understood in theological terms) and makes a punishment unimpeachable by being seen as a culture's pure expression of a judgement of guilt (culture narrowly seen with superstitious awe), and unconnected to factors of proportion, personal rights, side effects (banishment itself can be seen as a punishment), time... I think there is no problem at all, and simply by looking at the cruelty of the act, Isaac could have made a very moral decision to grant him what is in his powers and thereby to stand by his contract.

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