I bought China Mieville’s Three Moments of an Explosion when it was first released last year but only got around to finishing it this week. I’ll explain why later down the track, but first I’ll start by talking about what I enjoyed about this book.
One thing I really like about China Mieville is how inventive and bizarre his stories can be. (They don’t call his genre New Weird for nothing!) Who else could come up with a story about icebergs mysteriously appearing in the sky over the cities of the world? Or an epidemic where inexplicable trench-like circles form around various people if they are not on constant move? Or the tale of an actress who simulates pain conditions for doctors-in-training to diagnose – but one day begins to describe the symptoms of peculiar illnesses no one has ever heard of?
These stories and more are some of my favourites in Three Moments of An Explosion which also left me super jealous over Mieville’s seemingly limitless imagination and ability to think so completely outside the box (let’s face it – with Mieville, there is no box). He’s definitely one of the most original authors out there and I can pretty much guarantee that once you’ve read a China Mieville book, for better or worse, you’ll never forget it!
Also! One more story I must make mention of is Sacken, if only because I’m reviewing this book as part of my October Halloween reads this year. This is the particularly chilling tale of a woman who accidentally wakes up an evil force in a German lake and ohmygoodnessgraciousme this story had me awake and jumping at shadows for nights on end. I can’t really explain why, but the way Mieville told the story had me really, really scared! Until now, I still won’t go back and re-read it because I still remember how jumpy I was the first time round. All the hallmarks of a great scary story!
Though I enjoyed them very much, China Mieville’s stories aren’t necessarily for everyone. Some people might find them a little too outlandish and I’ll admit myself that there are a couple of stories in the collection which I admire for their sheer inventiveness but also thought they felt a little like pure author indulgence. There’s also a few of the shorter stories which I could take or leave, but mind you that’s just personal opinion here.
Also, the reason I stopped reading the book midway through and only returned to it now was because I got really grossed out reading After the Festival. It’s another one with an interesting, slightly bizarre concept and definite kudos to Mieville again for coming up with a premise no one else could have. But it was also a little gross to the point where I did feel kind of nauseous enough that I had to put the book down. Then I got caught up with a pretty bad time in life and things took a turn for the worse so much so that for a while I couldn’t handle reading anything that wasn’t, shall we say, lighthearted (and let’s face it, Mieville’s books aren’t exactly heavy on optimism). So it wasn’t until now that I decided to get back to the book again. But I’m glad I did – China Mieville has proven again why he is one of my all-time favourite authors and I’m looking forward to moving on next to The Census-Taker.