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Finishing Chabon and some love for China Mieville

CoverShortly after my recent post about how weird I thought Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road, I finished it, and let it percolate through my brain for a few days. It took about a week, but now that i've read the book and thought about it, it's weaknesses have mostly drained away, leaving the wonderful, if bittersweet end. Review to be posted soon.

And maybe I just have a thing for stories about girls who dress up as boys to save the world. Oops, did I just spoil the story for you?

Girls who dress up as boys to save the world . . . . Gentlemen of the Road, Revolutionary Girl Utena (although there is never any question that Utena is a girl!), Mieville's Iron Council. . . yup, looks like that calls to me. Gender issues? Power issues? I'm leaning towards the latter.

Oh China Mieville, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Perdido Street Station had major issues but The Scar made up for all of them. Un Lun Dun was adorable genius and King Rat was wonderfully gruesome. You put the fantasical back into fantasy, you give me the white knuckled imagery I crave along with the Lovecraftian horrific descriptions and consequences of getting everything I asked for, you give me characters who have been destroyed, deformed, enslaved and turned into monsters and they are more human than I am. I'm nearly done with Iron Council, when is your next book in the Bas Lag universe coming out?

Iron Council had a rough start. We've got a small group of rebelious misfits leaving the metropolis of New Crobuzon to find the possibly mythical “Iron Council”, to protect the council from the city militia. No one is sure who they can trust, so dialogue is vague and full of code words. Great for the characters, not so great for the reader. We've also got a group of rebels inside the city who believe if they assassinate the Mayor, they will be able to take over the town and stop the war with the neighboring Tesh.

Judah Low, a middle aged (but he must be older than that!!) member of the group looking for the Council is a golemist. I adore Mieville's fanstical sciences. Golemists are trained to make golems out of clay, earth, mud, water, whatever. a little like Earth-bending. Sure, fans of high fantasy are welcome to call this "magic", but Mieville treats it as an academic, university driven science. When Mieville goes into a multi chapter flashback of Judah's life and how he ended up where he is, i stop caring about anything else that happens. May this flashback never end, I just want to know about Judah.

nearly done, and I hope the end is as good as the middle. Sure, Mieville tosses some of his personal politics into it, but as I can't find anything i disagree with yet, politik away! reading this makes me want to read The Scar again.

In quickie manga news:

Et Cetera volume 1 - cute, but not that good. Taking place in a sort of Wild Wild west, Mingchao's inhertance is the magical Eto Gun, which is powered by the essences of animals of the zodiac. Hoping to get to Hollywood, she ends up travelling with Baskerville, who claims to be a priest, but surely isn't, as his "bible" is full of blueprints of the Eto Gun. This was too slapstick for my tastes.

Nodame Cantabile volumes 1 & 2 - or as my husband calls it No Damn Catbile. ewww! it's not that bad. Shinichi Chiaki is a top piano student at a music university. He's excellent at piano, but really wants to be a conductor, and transferring into that program won't be easy. After meeting his next door neighbor Nodame, Shinichi starts to learn that maybe the world doesn't revolve around him and what he wants. Again, a cute story, and i really, really appreciate all the music stuff, but this will be returned to the library unfinished.

back to the library with you Et Cetera and Nodame!


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