Tycho’s odd reluctance to meh out over China Miéville.

Odd post from Tycho over at Penny Arcade: I mean, I don’t really have any compulsion against saying that I find China Miéville’s work pretty uninteresting.  It’s definitely what I’d call smug, from what I remember of the half-book of his that I managed to get through before I realized that I was pretty much completely apathetic to either the plot or the characterization.

Apparently this is taboo: do China Miéville fans come by the houses of the heathen and throw rotten eggs, or something?  – I mean, I just assumed that the guy didn’t write books that I felt like reading; which happens all the time, and is obviously nobody’s fault in particular…


  • Aruges says:

    Hmmm… I wonder where the “smugness” comes from…

    “He became a Marxist at university, after becoming unsatisfied with the ability of postmodern theories to explain history and political events.”

    Isn’t that a bit like saying, “I became a cannibal because people meat tastes awful”?

  • Skip says:

    Nah, it’s just that it’s litrachur, not genre, too good for you.

    TBH, I haven’t actually read any Mieville, he’s got a publisher who’s uninterested in selling books to anyone who doesn’t want to pay a price premium. But he’s got one on this year’s Hugo ballot, so if it comes out as a freebie I guess I’ll read it.

  • Ric Locke says:

    Aruges has it right. Mieville is literary, which is a subset of Marxist, and if you ain’t literary you ain’t shit. Which his fans will be happy to tell you, with that peculiarly smug self-satisfaction characteristic of The Elite.

    Of course, being all literary and sophisticated and all, that also means they’re entitled to toss rotten eggs both metaphorical and physical. Consider the final exam of the Monks of Cool; that’s what you’re dealing with.

  • DaveP. says:

    I bought and read one Mieville book, and one was enough. I feel about Mieville the way I feel about certain types of art or music: I can recognize the effort and skill that went into its creation, but I don’t feel any urge to get deeper into it. Maybe it’s just cultural differences, but it just didn’t engage me.
    (oh yeah: and when I’m King, there’ll be a 99.5% tax levied upon anyone who self-identifies as a “Marxist”. Sauce for the goose, and all that…)

  • Scott says:

    Genre usually feels looked-down-upon by Lit, and tends to be pretty touchy about anything that Lit says they *should* like. This is just a Genre guy overreacting to the implication that he’s not smart enough to “get” Mieville. The fact that that implication only comes from his internalized sense of what he thinks Lit people think about Genre is the important point. Until Genre starts to see itself as legitimate and not second-class, allergic reactions like this will continue to happen.

    • Moe_Lane says:

      Scott: maybe that’s why the disconnect, then. I largely look on books and whatnot as ‘product’ (given that I’m a producer of words myself), and I don’t buy product for its snob value. 🙂

  • Luke says:

    Well, the “great and good” still control the major publishing houses, and they actively push Mieville as the sort of thing we “genre” guys should like.
    So the implication isn’t from an internalized sense. It right there in front of us, trying to bite our noses off.

  • Wombat-socho says:

    There’s times I wish SF had stayed in the ghetto where it belonged. 😉

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