China Mieville talks about his new hard-boiled/fantastic novel

Rick Kleffel sez, "I've recently posted an interview with China Miéville about his new book, The City & The City -- certainly one of the most unusual books you could read this year. He talks about the challenges of working in two genres -- the fantastic and the hard-boiled mystery genre -- in one novel."

A 2009 Interview with China Miéville

MP3 Link

(Thanks, Rick!)


  1. He talks about the challenges of working in two genres — the fantastic and the hard-boiled mystery genre — in one novel.

    Like Jim Butcher has been doing for the last 11 volumes of the Dresden Files, and Glen Cook for 12 volumes of Garrett P.I.?

    I look forward to finding out whether he’s found some new challenges or has found some new way to deal with the same old ones.

  2. Have a copy right here and I start reading it tonight.

    Loved Perdido Street Station, less so the Iron Council, but The Tain and the Scar are both bloody good.

  3. Let’s not forget George Alec Effinger and his ass kicking muslim future crime dramas, the Marid Audran series.

  4. Just finished reading this two days ago… my first Miéville read. Brilliant and indescribable.

  5. For those who have read this and Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Murakami – would I enjoy this based on me liking the Murakami book?

    It sounds interesting, especially the melding of the two genres.

  6. @5

    Absolutely. Murakami’s a very useful point of comparison for this novel. It’s not fantasy in the Jim Butcher sense.

  7. #6: And, of course, Green’s earlier Hawk and Fisher books, which were sort of trial runs for the Darkside (which I don’t like nearly as much, but that’s personal taste rather than anything else.)

  8. @1: Totally different. It’s more like a Borges or Umberto Eco piece than pulp urban fantasy.

    The central conceit of the novel — I’m not giving anything away here — is that it takes place in two cities sharing the same physical location, so that the two cities are intertwined like a nest of snakes. To avoid trampling on each other’s sovereignty, the inhabitants of the two cities have perfected the art of “unseeing” the other, so that anything obviously belonging to the other city (through colors, architecture, and so on) is completely, and fearfully, ignored: this mutual refusal creates a kind of perceptive alternate reality. There’s actually no “fantasy” at all.

  9. Personally disappointed with it, having loved (mostly) his previous works and also being a fan of one of Mieville’s main inspirations, HP Lovecraft.

    Agree with #9 above, the setting did remind me of Borges’ “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.” Nothing wrong there. Borges is a rich vein to mine, as many have, and “Tlon,…” is a particular favourite.

    Spotted one of the main outcomes early on, quite disappointing. If the fantastic element was taken out, it would a very pedestrian thriller with nothing new in the plot. The addition of “The City” to “The City” seemed mainly a reason to play with some language eg. “gros-topically”.

    His best “weird” fiction (rather than “fantastic”) piece to date has been the “Looking For Jake” title piece in the short story collection of the same name where he (Mielville) demonstrated, unlike many others, that he understood what Lovecraft’s weird fiction was really about; an indifferent universe.

  10. Fantastic book. Complex, original mystery, difficult to pull off but successfully done. Metaphors that work without beating you over the head. Waiting for a sequel.

  11. Mieville has a general problem: he loves language far too much, to the point where he falls in love with certain words and will repeat them over and over and over and … (try counting the word brine in Scar and contrast with water or saltwater).
    He also suffers from the delusion that altering words will lend to the atmosphere in a book rather than break up the reading. Using words like ‘alchymical’ really doesn’t add anything, it just makes the author look arrogant: ‘Look! I know smart words!”

    Apart from that, I love both Scar and Perdido Street Station.

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