Book and Album Reviews: Week 21

This Week’s Book: Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

I only kind of understand why some people don’t get on with Mieville. He gets two common criticisms: that he doesn’t do happy endings, and that he puts too much of his politics in his work.

Me, I love both those things. I like to feel like an author is saying “this is the way I see the world today” (provided they’ve also backed it up with a good story that works on it’s own merits, and Mieville has, pretty much every time). I don’t believe in engineering a “happy” ending – the story ends, life goes on, and frankly, if the characters have been through the sort of trauma that most sci-fi or fantasy includes, the ending should probably be “and then they all got professional counselling ever after”. So I like his willingness to end with the feeling that the characters are going to be recovering (or not) from this story for a long time to come.

Un Lun Dun, then. His first kids (or rather “Young Adult” as I understand we’re now supposed to call them) book. (He has one for grown ups due this autumn, apparently.) Alice in Wonderland, set in a broken down mirror of modern London. There’s a certain feeling of concsiously kicking against the established tropes of children’s fantasy, but since they get right up my nose too, I don’t mind that sort of thing.

I don’t want to say too much that would spoil this, so I’ll leave it at: this is a succesfull translation of Mieville’s usual style into a work for children – a massive amount of inventive fantasy ideas, urban sprawl, environmental decay, etc etc. If you like his adult works for those things, and can enjoy “Young Adult” work, you will like this.

This Week’s Album: Impeach My Bush by Peaches

I liked her first album, and thought he second was pretty good too. And here we are, on number three. The sound is slightly different – more lush, less minimal, but still basically dirty electro. And lyically? Well, on the one hand, I don’t suppose people want Peaches to change that much. But on the other, well, this is album three of basically the same material. I liked it, but y’know, I’d like to feel like there was something *new* there.

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