Best China Mieville book?

Brian G Turner

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I realised that I still haven't read anything by China Mieville, and this is something I should rectify.

Any suggestions as to the best book to introduce me to his writing?
 
I've only read two of his novels, but here's what I thought, if it's of any help.

Kraken: part detective story, part gangster thriller, part black comedy, part exploration of cults and belief. I had difficulty getting into it as although the writing was good, the plot, which mixes eschatology, demonic East End villains, the theft of a preserved giant squid from the National History Museum and the worship of said squid (it's a god), was too surreal for me, and the characters too weird, and after a couple of dozen pages I was hoping everyone would soon keel over and die from a surfeit of deep-fried calamari. It continued weird to the very last page with memory-angels made of bones and bottles, folding people, talking tattoos, sentient ink, squid worship, an embassy of – and filled with – the sea, literal knuckleheads, a trade union for familiars, and phasers never set to stun. Wildly, exuberantly, creative, but not a work I could say I enjoyed.

The City and the City: this was very different from the squiddy wordiness of Kraken, and I liked the matter-of-factness and decency of the first person narrator – a police inspector in a fractured vaguely East European city investigating a murder. The constant teasers in the opening chapters regarding the other city which physically occupies much the same space became a bit irritating, and I was annoyed Mieville never bothered to explain how the situation developed, nor how something called the Breach was funded, nor what all the Precursor stuff was about (the city and people who originally occupied the entirety of the now-divided land), plus Mieville's politics made it obvious who some of the baddies were going to be, but overall I enjoyed it.


I've also read a collection of his short stories, but I can't now recall anything of the book beyond a deep dislike of everything in it.
 
I've read everything by him apart from King Rat and Railsea. PSS is probably the best place to start. It's the first of his Bas Lag books and a story in its own right, so you don't have to go on and read any of the others. I think it gives the best introduction to his writing.

It does involve quite a time commitment though! If you wanted something lighter, try Un Lun Dun. It's not as typical, of his style, but is very good. Kraken I held off reading for a long time because I didn't think it sounded so good, but was actually brilliant. Kinda reminded me Neverwhere. That said I love books set in London. Embassytown is probably his traditional sci-fi, but there's a lot about linguistics in there, so it'll leave you cold if that's not an interest. I thought it absolutely fascinating.
 
Perdido Street Station seems as good a place to start as anywhere; it's the first of the Bas Lag books and while they are all standalones, I think the world unfolds best if the novels are read in order.

I also really liked The City and the City; I found the world-building more intriguing than annoying.
 
I started with King Rat and read his books in publication order and it didn't do me any harm. PSS is brilliant but it's a Slog and very depressing.

You could also start with his short story collection Looking for Jake to see if you like his style before commuting to a huge novel like PSS

PS. Don't be put off the YA books because they're YA as they're both brilliant.
 
I loved Un Lun Dun...I thought the story was uniquely told, and the book was beautifully written. It's sort of YA though, and I guess that's not typical for him (I have started PSS several times...but evidently neither was quite the right time for the book and I to sync up:)).
 
I loved The City and The City. It seemed much more mature as a novel than PSS (which I did also enjoy). The only other book by him that I've read is King Rat, which I found okay but not stunning (actually knowing something about some of the subject matter (d'n'b culture) showed that his research was perhaps a little thin).
 
I also have Perdido Street Station,and have tried to read it.
I may try again,but I found it hard to get into.
I gave it my usual 20 page chance to engage me,it didn't.
 
Perdido Street Station was the first I read, many moons ago. It's great place to start, I reckon. It's weird and dark and scary and has a surreal gothic quality about it. I went into it knowing nothing about it and loved it. I'm currently reading The City and the City and it is also quite brilliant and very different from PSS.
 
I am reading my way through Philip K Dick's not inconsiderable repertoire at the moment.
I may try China Mieville again after I finish.
 
Where to start depends of course on what you enjoy to read. Fantasy? Then perhaps the Bas Lagtrilogy is a good place to start. Noire or crime? Then City and the city. Weird scifi? Well, then Embassytown. I think he is a brilliant author in that way, because the books are probably read so differently depending on the readers preferences.
 
I had a couple of false starts on Perdido Street but it didn't pull me in. Then found myself alone with Iron Council. It sucked me in and became one of my all-time favourites. I went back to Perdido Street and thoroughly enjoyed it but I still thought I C was far better. I read Embassytown and tried to read Kraken but neither hit the spot.
 
I think I will have to try Iron Council.Sometimes it is possible to love one book by an author,yet intensely dislike another book he/she has written.
It has happened to me with Iain Banks.
 
I think I will have to try Iron Council.Sometimes it is possible to love one book by an author,yet intensely dislike another book he/she has written.
It has happened to me with Iain Banks.

It's probably my fave CM book. I'm in the minority though, although it is regarded well by the author.
 
I will have to hurry through my list,as Robin Hobb's new book comes out on Aug 13th.It's pre-ordered and I can hardly wait!
 
I think I will have to try Iron Council.Sometimes it is possible to love one book by an author,yet intensely dislike another book he/she has written.
It has happened to me with Iain Banks.
While all the New Crobuzon books are quite political, IC is by far the most overt. A lot of people I know didn't like it for that reason. Personally, it was one of the reasons I loved it. But then my politics broadly aligns with Mieville's.
 
I realised that I still haven't read anything by China Mieville, and this is something I should rectify.

Any suggestions as to the best book to introduce me to his writing?

I've only read "Perdido Street Station" and "The Scar" ... but they're both amazing. I highly recommend them. Read "Perdido" then read "Scar." He is a superlatively talented author. I am in awe of his talent.
 

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