china miéville

    The City & the City by China Mieville (Books 2023, 11) 📚

    It’s like China wanted to write a police procedural, a detective story. But being China, there was no way it could be set in the quotidian world of today.

    Which is great.. The setup here is that there are two cities, Besźel an Ul Qoma, somewhere in Eastern Europe; but they both occupy the same space. People in on can’t interact with those in the other.

    That’s about as much as I knew about it before I started.

    In another way it feels it’s kind of an extended metaphor for how we don’t notice things that are right under our noses. Or, as my beloved said, just for how we can live in a city like London alongside people from other cultures, people who look and dress differently, who even move differently; and never interact with them

    This is both good and bad, of course. Or can be both or either depending on the circumstances. Because we’re ignoring other people, whole swathes of them. The live their lives, full, rich, desperate, happy, sad; and we know nothing of them. They know nothing of us. Yet we don’t get in their way. We don’t interfere with them. We let them get on with their lives, and they us with ours, not causing them problems, as they cause us none.

    Or only the most minor of inconveniences as we avoid each other on the street.

    But is there even a third city, co-terminal with the two we know about? Some believe there is. Does Orciny exist?

    You’ll have to read it to find out.

    That 'reporting back from Eastercon' business

    I realise that I said I would report back from Eastercon. It already seems like quite a long time ago. I had a great time, though I missed out on the Saturday night and Sunday morning and early afternoon, as I went to collect my son from his grandparents'.

    It was his first convention, and I think he quite enjoyed it; though the next time we’ll need to ensure that there are some other kids there who like Yu-Gi-Oh! (mental trading card game beloved of ten-year-old boys).

    I saw some old friends and had a fine time. I was very restrained in comparison with my old conventioneering days. Early(ish) nights, the lot. It was quite refreshing to come home on the Monday and not feel at all rough.

    The guests of honour were great, those of them that I saw, at least. I missed “Charlie Stross’s”… speech because of being away for a while, but he was by far the most visible of them all around the con. China Miéville gave a great speech about how it doesn’t spoil stories to read more into them than the author consciously intended; or than our interlocutor might say we should (you know, the kind who say, “You’re reading too much into it! It’s just a story!").

    And Neil Gaiman (the net’s no. 1 Neil) was lovely. He read a short story, and talked for a bit, and then read the start of his new novel The Graveyard Book. Later on, he did a kids-only reading of The Wolves in the Walls. The best part of that was that parents and carers were allowed in too. He really knows how to handle an audience; even one of the most demanding kind, such as this.

    And my boy got his books signed without having to join the apparently-mad queues for the official signing sessions.

    Then there was a performance of my friend Andrew’s play, The Terminal Zone, which I wrote about when I read the chapbook, It’s a fine work. This particular performance could have done with more rehearsal, but of course, these are amateurs, fitting it all into the rest of their lives, and doing a damn fine job.

    That was followed by a live set from Mitch Benn, who I’ve been a fan of for some time from his performances on Radio 4’s The Now Show, and live, he was absolutely fantastic, especially, I think, since the audience got all his SF references (you don’t say) without any prompting.

    All in all, a great weekend, in a fine hotel (pity it’s lost its swimming pool, though).