September 6, 2009
The precise definition of “New Weird” (a recent avant-garde literary movement seeking to update a moribund Fantasy/SF genre) remains elusive, but the works of British author CHINA MIÉVILLE (born 1972) simultaneously fit and subvert the label. His New Crobuzon novels, especially Perdido Street Station (2000) and The Scar (2002) are very much aware of the world as a contemporary, urban, fluid space. And yet the smell of the sea, the hyperarticulate prose, and the menace of the fantastical monsters that play in Miéville’s vision aren’t so much avant-garde as revivalist: his writing takes us back to earlier times, whether childhood or historical. These are the novels he’ll be remembered by, but I’m equally excited by his foray into genre-bending detective fiction with this spring’s The City & The City, a cooler-headed, stripped-down, mirror-twinned look at cities seen and unseen, secrets kept and unkept, and lives lived and snuffed out.
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