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Sicko, China Mieville...
So, my relationship to the world continues to be one that doesn't seem to involve much blogging, or much writing, these days. Still, I thought I would check in after watching Michael Moore's very very good movie, Sicko. I actually thought it was superb. Funny, rich, important, heart-rending.
I also recently read China Mieville's novel, "Iron Council". I heard of China Mieville from an interview in "New Politics", one of the editors of which is my friend Stephen Shalom. I heard Mieville was a leftist activist and also a fantasy author. Since I am a fantasy fan (my favourite author in the genre is Guy Gavriel Kay) and a leftist myself, I thought I would give China Mieville a try. I'm thorough when it comes to authors - if I like one, I will try to read all the main books they've written, and I'll try to read them in the order they were written. In China's case I started with Perdido Street Station, then went to The Scar, and then Iron Council. I find him very creative, brilliant even, and his setting of New Crobuzon and Bas Lag to be gritty and to accomplish his goals of trying to invert Tolkien, not be sentimental, not rely on cliched rural or feudal settings, have complex politics and economics. The trouble with China is he leaves you feeling sick and totally burned out. The endings are always extraordinarily bleak. I couldn't help but wonder what it says about the world that a leftist can't even imagine things working out well in a fantasy novel (let alone science fiction or speculative fiction). Not that it's on China or anyone else to make everything work out. China should write what he likes, and he does so brilliantly. But why doesn't the other kind of fantasy novel exist, even if China wouldn't write it? Would no one believe such a novel, I wonder?