A View of London – Slightly Skewed

Maybe you really like a book. Maybe you love it. (I won’t tell anyone.) Maybe you like this book enough that you want to sit down with the author and have a drink. You want to talk to her or to him – what was going on in their head when they wrote it? How did they produce this masterpiece which was clearly custom designed for you, to occupy great chunks of your time – to the exclusion of other things that you really ought to be doing? Who is this that can build a world like that? What worlds have they created? How? Should you go and immerse yourself in them?

Using the list of 2011 Locus Award finalists as a jumping off point, let’s pick a world to check out.

If you come to read me writing about fantasy and speculative fiction for any amount of time, you will find me writing about China Mieville’s work. Kraken is not set in another world; Kraken is set in a London that Mieville has cheerfully turned on its ear. There is a nearly slapstick element to Kraken, a sense of gentle sly laughter behind the action. There are pokes at pop culture (Why would I tell you? Wouldn’t it defeat the purpose?), political organizing from a shabti (an Egyptian funeral figurine), and very bad men that get their kicks out of licking the taste of very good people’s magic off of walls. To top it off, this all revolves around a giant squid, a guy named Billy who was in the wrong place at the no-kidding wrong time, the London stone, and oh, hey – the apocalypse. I have learned that it is best for me to read Mieville’s work at least twice to get the nuances, and I was not disappointed here. This is one of his best.

Are there worlds you like to visit? Places you’d go, or places you’d like to see me wander through here? Let me know in the comments!

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