City and the City (Mieville)

Author Bio
Birth—September 6, 1972
Where—Norwich, England, UK
Education—B.A., Cambridge University; Ph.D., London
  School of Economics
Awards—Arthur C. Clarke Award (twice); British Fantasy
   Award (twice); Locus Award (twice)
Currently—teaches at Warkwick University

China Tom Miéville is an award-winning English fantasy fiction writer. He is fond of describing his work as "weird fiction" (after early 20th century pulp and horror writers such as H. P. Lovecraft), and belongs to a loose group of writers sometimes called New Weird who consciously attempt to move fantasy away from commercial, genre clichés of Tolkien imitators. He is also active in left-wing politics as a member of the Socialist Workers Party. He has stood for the House of Commons for the Socialist Alliance, and published a book on Marxism and international law. He teaches creative writing at Warwick University.

Miéville was born in Norwich and brought up in Willesden, a neighbourhood in northwest London, and has lived in the city since early childhood. He grew up with his sister and his mother, a teacher; his parents separated soon after his birth, and he has said that he "never really knew" his father. He is an alumnus of the public school Oakham School, where he studied for two years. In 1990, when he was eighteen, he lived in Egypt teaching English for a year, where he developed an interest in Arab culture and Middle Eastern politics.

Miéville acquired a B.A. in social anthropology from Cambridge in 1994, and a Master's with distinction and PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics, the latter in 2001. Miéville has also held a Frank Knox fellowship at Harvard. A book version of his Ph.D thesis, titled Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law, was published in the United Kingdom in 2005 by Brill in their "Historical Materialism" series, and in the United States in 2006 by Haymarket Books.

Miéville has indicated that he hopes to write a novel in every genre, and to this end has constructed an oeuvre that is indebted to genre styles ranging from classic American Western (in Iron Council) to sea-quest (in The Scar) to detective noir (in The City & the City). Yet Miéville's various works all describe worlds or scenarios that are fantastical or supernatural and thus his work is generally categorized as fantasy: Miéville has listed M. John Harrison, Michael de Larrabeiti, Michael Moorcock, Thomas Disch, Charles Williams, Tim Powers, and J.G. Ballard as literary "heroes"; he has also frequently discussed as influences H. P. Lovecraft, Mervyn Peake, and Gene Wolfe. He has said that he would like his novels "to read for [his imagined city] New Crobuzon as Iain Sinclair does for London."

Miéville played a great deal of Dungeons & Dragons and similar roleplaying games in his youth, and includes a specific nod to characters interested "only in gold and experience" in Perdido Street Station as well as a general tendency to systematization of magic and technology which he traces to this influence. In fact, in the February 2007 issue of Dragon Magazine, the world presented in his books was interpreted into Dungeons & Dragons rules and on February 19, 2008 it was announced that Adamant Entertainment will be developing an RPG based on the Bas-Lag universe.

Miéville has explicitly attempted to move fantasy away from J. R. R. Tolkien's influence, which he has criticized as stultifying and reactionary (he once described Tolkien as "the wen on the arse of fantasy literature"). This project is perhaps indebted to Michael de Larrabeiti's Borrible Trilogy, which Miéville has cited as one of his biggest influences and for which Miéville wrote an introduction for the trilogy's 2002 reissue. The introduction was eventually left out of the book, but is now available on de Larrabeiti's website. Miéville's position on the genre is also indebted to Moorcock, whose essay "Epic Pooh" Miéville has cited as the source off of which he is "riffing" or even simply "cheerleading" in his critique of Tolkien-imitative fantasy.

Miéville's left-wing politics are evident in his writing (particularly in Iron Council, his third Bas-Lag novel) as well as his theoretical ideas about literature; several panel discussions at conventions about the relationship of politics and writing which set him against right-wingers ended up in heated arguments. He has, however, stated that:

I’m not a leftist trying to smuggle in my evil message by the nefarious means of fantasy novels. I’m a science fiction and fantasy geek. I love this stuff. And when I write my novels, I’m not writing them to make political points. I’m writing them because I passionately love monsters and the weird and horror stories and strange situations and surrealism, and what I want to do is communicate that. But, because I come at this with a political perspective, the world that I’m creating is embedded with many of the concerns that I have... I’m trying to say I’ve invented this world that I think is really cool and I have these really big stories to tell in it and one of the ways that I find to make that interesting is to think about it politically. If you want to do that too, that’s fantastic. But if not, isn’t this a cool monster? (From Wikipedia.)

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