Reviews in Strange Places

I know that the tidal wave of publicity for China Miéville’s Embassytown irritates some people in UK fandom. It is very fannish to think that anything that is popular can’t be any good. But whatever you might think of the book (and personally I like it a lot, though I don’t think it is his best), all this publicity is certainly getting science fiction treated with renewed respect. As evidence I offer this article in no less a place than the Wall Street Journal. It is a rather strange piece, and doubtless some fans will find it insulting because it doesn’t show due reverence, but hey, the Wall Street Journal. It matters. It could be the thin end of a wedge.

I was chatting to the Pan Macmillan folks about this on Monday, and the question arose as to where China hadn’t got noticed. The answer, of course, is British television. When a new Miéville novel gets noticed by the BBC and Sky Arts, then we’ll know we’ve made it.

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4 Responses to Reviews in Strange Places

  1. Martha says:

    It will happen; I’m sure of it. When a book I’ve just read – in this case ‘The City and the City – challenges me enough to start commenting about it in friends’ blogs, I think its safe to say he’s on to something.

    I really believe that China is going to be the writer who crosses over and opens a bridge for others.

  2. “It is very fannish to think that anything that is popular can’t be any good.”

    I know this is tangential to your main point, but I think this attitude is more universal than fannish. I’ve been reading Plato & Aristotle in the “Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism,” and it doesn’t take long before they too are bashing things that are merely ‘crowd-pleasing.’

    However your main point, that this is a very depressing attitude, I heartily agree with.

  3. “When a new Miéville novel gets noticed by the BBC and Sky Arts, then we’ll know we’ve made it.” But then, this might just be because I really (really, really) don’t watch much television, when does the BBC ever mention forthcoming books? I guess occasionally we get an interview with the author of some super-huge blockbuster, but we surely are only talking about novels on that “millions-upon-millions-of-copies” scale that, perhaps, GRRM might be at but I’m not sure Mieville, much as he deserves to be (and he does!), is yet…

    • Cheryl says:

      Like Sky Arts, the BBC has a book review show. Alex Preston, who has an article in this latest Salon Futura, is a frequent guest on it. China has been on there. Mostly they don’t touch SF&F.

      You also see new books featured frequently on shows like Breakfast. Neil Gaiman was on there once, but they’ve had people a lot less prominent than him.

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