So. Your Humble Blogger read Perdido Street Station before this Tohu Bohu became 30% books, so Gentle Readers might not be aware that I did not like it. Didn’t. Sorry. Nuh-unh. It was very obviously the sort of book I would like, without being any actual book I do like. I don’t even remember why, specifically, other than that it seemed to be mostly noodling. So when I heard that China Miéville had written a YA book, I was only mildly interested. Un Lun Dun fell into my wicked hands, however, and I thought what the heck, anyway.
And it turns out that it is wonderful. Wait, let me say it again, in italics: Un Lun Dun is wonderful.
Part of the wonderfulnessosity is just the fun, the New Weird craziness, the grotesques and puns, the moil and the umbrellas and the unbrellas and the rebrellas. But part of it is that Mr. Miéville agrees with Your Humble Blogger. Hurrah! All the things that get up my nose about Young Adult specfic get up his nose, and he not only turns the tables on them and then mocks them just enough, but he makes the story work without them! There’s a chosen one, and she’s a big loser, and she doesn’t fulfill the quest, but somebody else does, so it’s OK! Our hero chooses herself, which makes her far more of a hero. There are prophecies, and they are wrong, or at least some of them are wrong, and there’s no real way of knowing which ones. There’s a Quest! And the Quest! has several parts, and the Quest! has to be done in the proper order, and our heroine looks at the Quest! and says screw that and jumps to the end. Hee hee! Take that, Fate! Take that, annoying tropes of my favorite fiction! Take that, and that! And one more! And that’s all, you can’t have any more.
The point is not just that Mr. Miéville agrees with all right-thinking people such as YHB that fantasy novels are bizarrely and fawningly approving of such evil and destructive traditions as hereditary monarchy, the primacy of genetic traits and the authority of prophecy, no. The point is that he has made a very good story without approving of that shit, and thus not only proving it can be done but (I hope) forcing many people who do write fantasy to come to terms with the fact that they have been approving that shit, and that they can write very good stories without it.
I’m hoping to read a bunch of stuff inspired by that—not by the New Weird, which is fine and all, but has been around for a while, but by the radical left-wing idea that the hero doesn’t have to be a fucking prince. Got it? Good.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,