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China Mieville Discuss China Mièville's novels and short stories here. Includes exclusive interview!

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Old 28th October 2004, 08:35 AM   #1 (permalink)
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The End Of Mieville: HERE BE SPOILERS!!!

On another thread here, Caladan Brood mentioned that China Mieville seems to have a bit of a problem with ending his stories. I though it might be worth discussing this aspect of Mieville's books in a little more detail.

Purely from memory, here are the endings of his four novels thus far and my comments (hence the SPOILER WARNING):

King Rat: In the end, Saul comes to terms with his part-rodent nature, defeats the Pied Piper and also gives the evil old King Rat his come-uppance, gaining kingship over the rats and then telling the rats that they are now free to goven themselves. Nothing seems unresolved here, and the ending is even rather whimsical ("let's put the 'rat' back in 'fraternity").

Perdido Street Station: Isaac and cohorts do eventually defeat those scary flying dream-eaters. But at great cost - Isaac is now a wanted man in New Crobuzon and must flee, his lover Lin is permanently crippled, mentally and (not as shocking as some people make out, since having one's wings removed brutally as punishment suggests a terrible crime) Yagharek, who was in so many ways the pivot for the plot, and an increasingly engaging character, is revealed as a man guilty of a terrible crime whether by human or Garuda standards. Again, I don't feel much is left hanging - the evil is vanquished, but there's more than one source of evil in the world, and great valour does not always lead to great rewards. Not a happy ending, but it is an ending.

The Scar: Possibly the weakest ending. Much of the book centered around the Lovers' Quixotic quest for The Scar, but the book ends in this ambition being thwarted at the last minute, which is probably a good thing but feels like a bit of a let-down. On the hand, there are vivid characters here, and I suspect that the development of Tanner Sack's character does offer a certain sense of completion if not resolution to the overall story. Then again, the book begins with Bellis leaving New Crobuzon for the unknown, and ends with her finally getting to go back, so there is at least a definite end to it for her. Still, feels like a rather open ending, even weak.

Iron Council: The whole point of the ending, I think, is the lack of immediate resolution. Realising that the revolt in New Crobuzon is doomed, has already failed and cannot be salvaged at this point, Lowe prevents the Perpetual Train from returning to what can only be a final crushing defeat for the people's cause. Instead, he uses his arcane powers to forever suspend the train and the Iron Council in time, serving as an eternal beacon to the common people of New Crobuzon. I think this may not be the climatic ending one may have expected, but is a definite and acceptable ending, telling us that sometimes, the idea of revolution is more important than the revolution itself.

So that's my take on the ways in which Mieville's novels end. There's a certain lack of a traditional tying-all-threads and righting-all-wrongs ending, but I do feel that in each case a vital plot driver and thematic element has been brought to a resolution that makes a statement other than 'good has triumphed' or 'evil never dies' or 'true love prevails' etc, etc.

What do you think? Am I being far too kind, and is this something he still needs to work on, as a relatively young writer, or is it worth speculating that some of the in-the-air feeling about his endings is on purpose, and purposeful?
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Old 28th October 2004, 02:59 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: The End Of Mieville: HERE BE SPOILERS!!!

Not looking at the Iron Council part

As I think I've said before (probably in that other thread), I hate the ending of Perdido Street Station. Hate it. After a brilliant book, the ending is a complete let down, not to mention out of character for several of the participants. I liked Yagharek too, twas unfair I got the impression he had just tried to finish off the book really quicky, and put a twist in just for the sake of it without really thinking it through. Didn't work. At all. Nada. Nope. etc etc...

The Scar's ending I thought was much better, though still not up to par with the rest of the book. It resolved several things nicely though, and I actually really liked the anticlimax of the whole thing A bizarre twist, yes, but much much better than the one at the end of PSS. And of course still leaving some mysteries, like that cactus bloke... or was he?
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Old 28th October 2004, 04:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: The End Of Mieville: HERE BE SPOILERS!!!

I personally think Mieville ends his books in such a way as to leave them open for further development. Well that's the way I've been viewing them. Perhaps he is going to return to the characters in the future
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Old 29th October 2004, 05:41 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: The End Of Mieville: HERE BE SPOILERS!!!

I'm afraid I'll have to disagree with you on PSS, Cal.


I liked Yag too - a lot, in fact. The passages that precede each section, for example, are told from his perspective, and establish a certain affinity with him as our guide and perhaps representative in New Crobuzon.

However, he is a winged being who has had his wings amputated by his people as a punishment for a crime. This is somewhat equal to you or me having our legs amputated as punishment. Surely one must have known all along that Yag's crime must have been more than some petty transgression? How on earth is it out of character for someone who bears the mark of a great crime to turn out to be a criminal!

He does seem to redeem himself by growing out of his self-absorption and helping Isaac overcome the terror that falls over the city. But in no way is he entitled to regain flight, and unilaterally reverse the verdict of his people, thereby belittling his very real crime. BTW, Yag seems to reappear in Iron Council - see if you can spot this one.

As I've said, I liked this ending because I sense or know that this is how many real-life endeavours end - a mixed victory that hardly seems different from defeat in many specifics. It certainly is a downer ending rather an a satisfying climax. And yes, the last 50 pages or so do seem like a sudden realisation that the book has to be ended, so get on with it!

Of course, it would be nice if Mieville's open endings allow him to re-visit certain characters and ideas later on. I know rune would like to know more about Uther Doul, and I'd certainly love to see more of Isaac. And even Bellis, or Tanner. He has said he never says no, so who knows...
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Old 29th October 2004, 09:39 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: The End Of Mieville: HERE BE SPOILERS!!!

Of course, it would be nice if Mieville's open endings allow him to re-visit certain characters and ideas later on. I know rune would like to know more about Uther Doul, and I'd certainly love to see more of Isaac. And even Bellis, or Tanner. He has said he never says no, so who knows

This would be great!
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Old 9th November 2004, 04:37 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: The End Of Mieville: HERE BE SPOILERS!!!

I much preferred the ending on Iron Council to PSS and The Scar, it was somehow more appropriate. Now I'm maybe more used to his style of ending books it wasn't quite as dissapointing, and this was one cliffhanger that felt rather appropriate Spoils the point of the whole book, maybe, but appropriate



*******SPOILERS*******
Point: How does the time golem still keep going after Joshua dies? Surely that would get rid of its energy source? And if not, surely its batteries will run out at some point?
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Old 17th November 2004, 09:06 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: The End Of Mieville: HERE BE SPOILERS!!!

Good question about the time-golem. I'll go re-read my copy of Iron Council and see if I can figure this one out.
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Old 19th November 2004, 01:09 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: The End Of Mieville: HERE BE SPOILERS!!!

Thanks. I didn't notice anything saying anything about it, but all his other golems drew power from him... Of course it's possible he hijacked some other power source. A nearby factory or similar?
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Old 11th January 2006, 08:29 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: The End Of Mieville: HERE BE SPOILERS!!!

I thought that the ending to Perdido Street Station (my favourite of his novels) was his weakest, while the Scar's endings and especially Iron Council's were decent. The Scar had a very dark, postmodern style ending that I think fits particularly well with Mieville's general style of anti-fantasy - very much what you would expect in an M John Harrison novel, or a Peake novel. Iron Council was even more this - typical of Mieville, focusing on how everything doesn't turn out right, that despite best intentions, things do go wrong.
The revelations of Yagharek at the end of Perdido were brilliant, the deus ex machina of Jack Half-a-Prayer, less so.
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Old 12th March 2006, 02:57 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: The End Of Mieville: HERE BE SPOILERS!!!

As much as I love her writing, I detest finishing the books because I always feel they will be a let down.
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Old 12th March 2006, 04:28 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: The End Of Mieville: HERE BE SPOILERS!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxtale
As much as I love her writing, I detest finishing the books because I always feel they will be a let down.
Errr...hate to be the one to break the news but China is a guy, unless he's not telling us something....

Not that gender has anything to do with brilliant writing of course and Mieville is one of my fav authors....
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Old 14th March 2006, 11:18 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: The End Of Mieville: HERE BE SPOILERS!!!

<_< I always call him a girl. China just seems to be more of a feminine name no?
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Old 15th March 2006, 10:11 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: The End Of Mieville: HERE BE SPOILERS!!!

China Mieville's a guy. Apparently he's called China because his parents went through a book of cockney rhyming slang, and liked the look of China, which means "mate". As I said before, I think Mieville's endings are pretty good - they might seem anti-climactic, but I think that's the whole point. He's doing something new. If there were just big battles, deus ex machinas and happy endings to end his novels, they wouldn't be as good. The ending of Iron Council fills you with utter despair (which I prefer immensely to your average epic fantasy, all evil defeated, everyone lives happily ever after ending).
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Old 28th May 2006, 01:08 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: The End Of Mieville: HERE BE SPOILERS!!!

I liked his endings in all his books.

I like anticlimactic endings but thats just me, I also like antiheroes, flawed heroes etc.or no heroes.

Last edited by Milk; 28th May 2006 at 01:09 AM. Reason: added more
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Old 12th July 2006, 05:50 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: The End Of Mieville: HERE BE SPOILERS!!!

I just finished Perdido Street Station, and I have to say that the deus ex machina of Jack Half-a-Prayer absolutely ruined the book for me. Was he even mentioned at all before he materialized in that final firefight? His appearance was just one giant WTF for me. Can anyone help me out and explain him?
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