Sunday, 22 May 2011

China Miéville and his giant brain

For numerous reasons *@&&~~~# computer error code 124323### I was unable to write my weekly round-up this week, but don't worry, it should be back in force this time next ~~~@' unknown sandwich error***

China Miéville has been making waves recently at the Guardian - they've been lavishing him with some fabulous coverage. I’m going to case study him for my dissertation, because, according to the Guardian, he’s making Sci Fi cool again (plus his brain is so large his head has no room for hair). The only person to win the Arthur C. Clarke award three times, he’s just graduated to being the sort of writer who deserves to be featured in an A life in writing article. Basically the Guardian has trumped my dissertation topic by stating that Miéville has ‘combined his love of genre, geeky in its enthusiasm but scholarly in its depth, with an ambitious literary sensibility.’ He’s come a long way. In 2003 Miéville was credited by Granta’s editor as being ‘an extraordinary writer of dark fantasy’, but he still wasn’t included on their Best Young British Novelist list for that year. He might have been writing in an acceptably literary fashion, but he was still doing it by writing fantasy. Bad times. But that was eight years ago, and the snobbery (that’s ‘stigma’ according to my dissertation) isn’t as prevalent. Better times. He would hate my dissertation, because he’s waxed eloquent about this sort of ‘why are we so put-upon’ moaning, describing it as: ‘the endlessly arse-achingly expressed complaint from genre that no one takes us seriously.’ Yet, despite that, he recently wrote in his blog: ‘The sooner literary fiction recognises and accepts its generic identity, the sooner it can get help.’ Which is now a valid new section for my dissertation. I do believe that Miéville is the final push for genre. OK, so SFF isn’t as derided as I’d initially hoped thought it would be when I set out to write this beast, but it just needs a little bit more help to become as accepted as, say, crime (that’s the genre, not the act). Some people are always going to dislike it, but I think it would be great if this wasn’t just on principle. Now, if only I was writing my dissertation circa 2003…

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