Art’s something you choose to make … it’s a bringing together of … of everything around you into something that makes you more human, more khepri, whatever. More of a person.
China Miéville (born 6 September 1972) is a Hugo, Arthur C. Clarke and Locus award-winning English fantastic fiction writer.
The reason that I like SF and fantasy and horror is that to me it's the pulp wing of surrealism.
There’s simultaneously something rigorous and something playful in genre. It’s about the positing of something impossible and then taking that impossibility and granting it its own terms and systematicity. It’s carnivalesque in its impossibility and overturning of reality, but it’s rationalist in that it pretends it is real.
- I am often asked is [my work] science fiction or fantasy and my answer is usually ‘Yes’.
- As far as I'm concerned, some of the best literature of the last hundred years has come out of the genre tradition and of course the best of it challenges expectations just as the best of literary fiction challenges those expectations. But it's not that genre fiction is any more a constraint than mimetic fiction. So I see myself very much as a genre writer. I love the fantastic genres. I see what I'm doing as a development of them but very much a part of them. I never feel that I'm leaving them behind. I try and be as experimental and avant-garde and stretching as I can be but I don't see that as turning my back on the genre at all. Genre has always been able to encompass that.
- The reason that I like SF and fantasy and horror is that to me it's the pulp wing of surrealism.
- The thing about good pulp is that you trust the reader and you know that the mind is a machine to process metaphors so of course all those connections will be there. But you've also granted the fantastic its own dynamic and allowed that awe. There's no contradiction. So I want to have monsters as a metaphor but I also want monsters because monsters are cool. There's no contradiction.
- But it's a prize that... if you're into science-fiction and fantasy you grow up reading books with "Hugo [Award-winner]" on the cover. And this is very, very moving, to be in that position oneself. It's an odd situation [too], because, as you say, it was a tie, which is very rare with the Hugo, which has happened, like three times over sixty years, or something. But I prefer to think of it as a quantum Hugo and that Paolo Bacigalupi and I oscilate between between Hugo particle and wave form, this year. So it's properly science-fictional.
- The other, more nebulous, but very strong influence of RPGs was the weird fetish for systematization, the way everything is reduced to “game stats.” If you take something like Cthulhu in Lovecraft, for example, it is completely incomprehensible and beyond all human categorization. But in the game Call of Cthulhu, you see Cthulhu’s “strength,” “dexterity,” and so on, carefully expressed numerically. There’s something superheroically banalifying about that approach to the fantastic. On one level it misses the point entirely, but I must admit it appeals to me in its application of some weirdly misplaced rigor onto the fantastic: it’s a kind of exaggeratedly precise approach to secondary world creation.
- There’s simultaneously something rigorous and something playful in genre. It’s about the positing of something impossible—whether not-yet-possible or never-possible—and then taking that impossibility and granting it its own terms and systematicity. It’s carnivalesque in its impossibility and overturning of reality, but it’s rationalist in that it pretends it is real. And it’s that second element which I think those who dip their toes in the SF pond so often forget. They think sf is “about” analogies, and metaphors, and so on. I refute that—I think that those are inevitable components, but it’s the surrendering to the impossible, the weird, that characterizes genre. Those flirting with SF don’t surrender to it; they distance themselves from it, and have a neon sub-text saying, “It’s okay, this isn’t really about spaceships or aliens, it’s about real life,” not understanding that it can be both, and would do the latter better if it was serious about the former.
- Interview with Joan Gordon
- Although we revolutionary socialists are always accused of being Utopian, nothing strikes me as more Utopian than the reformist belief that with a bit of tinkering and some good faith, we can systematically improve the world. You have to ask how many decades of broken promises and failed schemes it will take to disprove that hope. Marxism isn’t about saying you’ll get a perfect world: it’s about saying we can get a better world than this one, and it’s hard to imagine, no matter how many mistakes we make, that it could be much worse than the mass starvation, war, oppression, and exploitation we have now. In a world where 30,000 to 40,000 children die of malnutrition daily while grain ships are designed to dump food into the sea if the price dips too low, it’s worth the risk.
- interview with Joan Gordon
- Socialism and SF are the two most fundamental influences in my life.
- interview with Joan Gordon
- I refuse to play the wink-wink-nudge-nudge game with readers. I don’t like whimsy because it doesn’t treat the fantastic seriously, and treating the fantastic seriously is one of the best ways of celebrating dialectical human consciousness there is. The one-sided celebration of the ego-driven contextually constrained instrumentally rational (as opposed to rational in a broader sense) is bureaucratic: the one-sided celebration of the subconscious, desire/fantasy driven is at best utopian, at worst sociopathic. The best fantasies—which include sf and horror—are constructed with a careful dialectic between conscious and subconscious.
- interview with Joan Gordon
- I see echoes with lots of books in all my books, some deliberate, some unconscious until later, and as long as that is respectful I think that's great - writing on the shoulders of other writers is a privilege.
- She was intelligent enough to realize that her excitement was childish, but not mature enough to care.
- We have watched mutant creatures crawl from sewers into cold flat starlight and whisper shyly to each other, drawing maps and messages in faecal mud.
I have sat with the wind at my side and seen cruel things, wicked things.
My scars and bonestubs itch. I am forgetting the weight, the sweep, the motion of wings. If I were not garuda I would pray. But I will not obeise myself before arrogant spirits.
- "Art’s something you choose to make … it’s a bringing together of … of everything around you into something that makes you more human, more khepri, whatever. More of a person."
- Now what are we looking at right here? What’s bang in the middle? Some people think that’s mathematics there. Fine. But if maths is the study that best allows you to think your way to the centre, what’re the forces you’re investigating? Maths is totally abstract, at one level, square roots of minus one and the like, but the world is nothing if not rigorously mathematical. So this is a way of looking at the world which unifies all the forces: mental, social, physical.
- This was the most difficult, the most extraordinary transition. Her body had been a source of shame and disgust; to engage in activities with no purpose at all except to revel in their sheer physicality had first nauseated, then terrified, and finally liberated her.
- Lin realized that she was living in an unsustainable realm. It combined sanctimony, decadence, insecurity and snobbery in a weird, neurotic brew. It was parasitic.
- Andrej’s mind, like any sane human’s … was a constantly convulsing dialectical unity of consciousness and subconsciousness, the battening down and channelling of dreams and desires, the recurring re-creation of the subliminal by the contradictory, the rational-capricious ego. And vice versa. The interaction of levels of consciousness into an unstable and permanently self-renewing whole.
- To take the choice of another … to forget their concrete reality, to abstract them, to forget that you are a node in a matrix, that actions have consequences. We must not take the choice of another being. What is community but a means to … for all we individuals to have … our choices.
- Tearfly looked at Bellis curiously, bewildered by her ignorance. She did not care. What was important to her was where she was fleeing from, not where she was, or where she was going.
- Part 1 “Channels”, chapter 2 (p. 21)
- I’m not waiting to die, I don’t believe I’ll die, I am waiting for something else.
To arrive. To understand. To be at my destination.
- Part 1 “Channels”, Interlude II (p. 65)
- She felt so alien, bowed under culture shock as crippling as migraine.
- Part 2 “Salt”, chapter 6 (p. 78)
- Neither dust nor light stirred. It was as if time had been bled dry and given up.
- Part 3 “The Compass Factory”, chapter 20 (p. 241)
- For every action, there’s an infinity of outcomes. Countless trillions are possible, many milliards are likely, millions might be considered probable, several occur as possibilities to us as observers—and one comes true.
- Part 6 “Morning Walker”, chapter 34 (p. 394)
- We say what happens now. We’re taking control. We’re turning around; we’re heading home. Your orders to proceed...are in-fucking-validated.
- Part 7 “The Lookout”, chapter 47 (p. 557)
- “My dad hates umbrellas,” said Deeba, swinging her own. “When it rains he always says the same thing. ‘I do not believe the presence of moisture in the air is sufficient reason to overturn society’s usual sensible taboo against wielding spiked clubs at eye level.’”
- It felt like being a child again, though it was not. Being a child is like nothing. It's only being. Later, when we think about it, we make it into youth.