I have yet to read China Mieville’s The City and The City as I’ve been bogged down getting through Stephen KIng’s The Stand, a long-promised read (the 1400 page version). I make the admission in order to clarify that I am not making a judgement on China’s award-winning book. I love his other books mainly because of the literary style of his writing, and it shouts at me from the bookcase to be read.
It is fascinating through how doubt has been levelled at The City and The City as to whether it is science fiction or just a damn good crime story with a two city setting along with a ‘fantastical’ element. This opinion is set in the Guardian review pages by Alison Flood. She also says that China isn’t bothered what people think and that as far as he is concerned all his writiing is science fiction. Consider that China’s The City and The City has recently won awards by people who know their science fiction – the Arthur C Clarke Award and – it is nominated for the Hugo Award for science fiction novels.
China says: ‘ ”What I don’t want to do is disavow the fantastic tradition I come from. This is a book from within the fantasy tradition, which hopefully can also be a perfectly faithful crime book – and a good book.”
Maybe it is pure crime or crime with fantasy, but is it science fiction? China says such discussions are silly but that’s a cop out.
What a contrast then to Margaret Atwood who shouts that NONE of her writing is science fiction even though most of us would consider stories like Oryx and Crake, set in the future with GM humanoids a yes for a SF genre. I explore her attitude and look at classical definitions of science fiction in Kalkion at this link
Now I will have to rush the last 250 pages of The Stand so I can judge China’s latest for myself.