Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Miéville Megatext

Our first Megatext meeting was a delight! The folks at Open Books were our gracious hosts (they also made this awesome flier), and we had members of Think Galactic and the Classic Sci-Fi Meetup in attendance.

We had a wide-ranging discussion and touched on almost all of his work at least a little. Quick notes:

  • Some criticism of his "London Trilogy", particularly "Kraken". Discussion of the "everything in the kitchen sink" style of weird fiction, and comparison to Neil Gaiman's work.
  • Lots on escapism, allegory, and fiction that tries to discomfort the reader, with some Tolkien digressions.
  • The Weird, how horror elements influence his work, uncanny vs. abcanny, and what Miéville has said about that in articles like "M.R. James and the Quantum Vampire".
  • Worldbuilding and the ability to convincingly play out a preposterous setting.
  • The "civilization on rails" of "Iron Council" and some relatives:
    • Priest's "Inverted World"
    • Joon-ho's "Snowpiercer"
    • Rail-cities on Mercury in Robinson's "2312", Stross's "Saturn's Children", and elsewhere.
  • "Deflationary" or "anti-" fantasy variants and their effects.
  • The Weird/New Weird's relationship to Magical Realism, citing for instance Cortázar's short work and Esquivel's "Like Water for Chocolate". 
  • Miéville's love of language, wordplay, puns & neologisms.
  • Lots of time spent on "The City and the City", "Embassytown", and the Remade from the Bas-Lag books.
  • I'm not sure how these were connected, but I left wanting to read Bachelder's "Bear vs. Shark" and Moers' "The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear".
The next Megatext isn't set in stone yet, but it will be this summer, and Octavia Butler is a likely pick. Be sure to keep your eye on other events at Open Books, too, as they host a bookclub and author events, including one with Jodi Lynne Nye  on June 25th.

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