I’m halfway through China Miéville’s Looking For Jake and Other Stories and am enjoying it hugely. I first heard of Miéville when Ursula Le Guin mentioned him in passing in an interview, as a promising young writer of fantasy and sci-fi. But I didn’t read any of his work until I came across ‘Tis The Season’ in Socialist Review in December 2004.
Unfortunately, three of his four novels are part of a series and they’re not all available in bookstores. I don’t mind reading series out of order. In fact, there’s a curious pleasure in fitting together a world, like a jigsaw puzzle. It feels as if the world carried on and you went in and out of it and found things changed and though it took you a while to get used to it, you managed make connections you might not otherwise have made had you read it the way it was meant to be read.
I read Dune first, then Children of Dune, then Heretics—all in a completely messed up order. But the important thing is, I read the first book of the series and so the rest of it made sense. So I’ve no intention of reading Miéville’s New Crobuzon novels until I’ve first read Perdido Street Station.
But Looking For Jake is a very satisfying reading. The title story is a poignant account of a search for a lost friend. The circumstances are unusual and hover on the edge of the reader’s understanding. And my favourite one so far is ‘Familiar’—in which the creation becomes larger than the one who creates. There’s a novella, and a story written in comic book form. Much to look forward to.
Here are a couple of articles on Miéville’s Iron Council and his Top Fifty Sci-fi and Fantasy recommendations.