Sunday, September 11, 2005

All things China

The final instalment of China MiƩville's interview in 3 parts at Long Sunday is finally here (though, honestly, part the first was the most exciting). (Via The Mumpsimus.)

Part 1 (previously mentioned).

Part 2 (which I somehow missed), in which he muses on prose stylings; on political narrative

[...that all political reality will be given a narrative form is inevitable — both on the left and the right. The right, though, pays only the feeblest lip service to making it believable, and instead wants to make it clearly generic not so that consumers will be fooled but so that they will understand the rules. For that purpose, the simpler the pulp form, the better.];

on Palestine; on international law ["The chaotic and bloody world around us IS the rule of law."]; and on his predilection for the Weird.

(Also he notes being pleasantly surprised by the film 'Reign of Fire', — "Post apocalypse. Christian Bale. Dragons. The only film Matthew McConaughey was ever good in. What's not to like?" — although he is mistaken in believing he is the only person in the world to have liked it.)

Part 3, on blogging, on fantasy (and whether the genre has national threads), on magic realism, and a whole lot more on international law.

On world-building and its relation with realism:
Part of the reason that it is very hard for me to conceive of a truly great Liberal novel for the last few decades is because more or less definitionally they'd be novels that take the world at its own claims. They take it for granted. That I think is partly what Trotsky's after when he says that 'art that loses a sense of the social lie' is what 'becomes mannerism.'...

I think part of the problem with the modern 'liberal' novel is that it often tends not to conceive of the totality of social life: instead it abstracts one element (stereotypically the middle-class family), and universalises it. By contrast, fantastic fiction that 'world-creates' creates a world — a totality. So whether or not it explicitly spells it out, there's a sense that an economic problem conceived of as background and the romantic plot foregrounded are part of the same universe. That's what the classic 19thC realist novel also did. Of course the bad fantasy novel proposes an utterly unconvincing totality, one with elements that we viscerally know to be present, absent.


On the London bombings at Bionic Octopus.
On Katrina fallout at Lenin's Tomb.

Freshly released short stories: Looking for Jake.
Currently finishing another novel, "licking afterbirth off a kitten."
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