In this Author Spotlight series, I’m talking about other writers you might not be familiar with, or you may have heard of but not read. The aim is to give you enough information to decide whether you might enjoy their work.
Today’s featured author is China Miéville. He’s a British speculative fiction writer whose novel Embassytown is up for a Hugo Award this year. That’s nothing new for him — almost all his novels have been nominated for, and often won, multiple genre awards. My thoughts below the cut…
I would categorize his writing as dark speculative fiction, often with elements of Lovecraftian horror. Several of his novels are set in a secondary (fantasy) world, Bas-Lag — but it’s a post-industrial fantasy world, with factories and rudimentary computers (Babbage engines) and magic that’s treated like science. I’m not even sure what subgenre to call that, but whatever it is, I like it!
Here are a few of his works…
King Rat. Miéville’s debut novel is urban fantasy very much in the vein of Neil Gaiman, with an edge of rave music and some mythology to boot. If you liked Neverwhere, you’ll like King Rat.
Perdido Street Station. The first Bas-Lag novel is chock-full of imaginative and rigorous worldbuilding. No stock fantasy races here — early on we meet a race with human bodies and bug heads (with which they excrete a substance they use to create art), and things just get weirder from there. The plot revolves around mad science, with all its ramifications. Exiled winged creatures and a couple of beings so frightening and unknowable as to be Lovecraftian round out the novel.
The Scar. Set in another part of the same world, The Scar is centered around a society of pirates and takes place almost entirely at sea. But don’t expect a rollicking action story. Instead, at a leisurely pace, we get invented science and engineering, intrigue, philosophy, linguistics, and monsters of various kinds.
I’m playing catch-up on my reading, so I haven’t gotten past these three novels yet, but I will be reading more of Miéville in the future. I’m particularly looking forward to Embassytown, which sounds like exactly the sort of science fiction I love.
Miéville’s next novel, Railsea, will be out May 15, 2012.
Have you read Miéville? What did you think? Which of his novels is your favourite?