by China Miéville. Once there had been the subterranean language with the underground forces. If speech at all then it was the spaces between words, and the echoes the words left, or what might be really meant under the surface. Ann Quin, ‘The Unmapped Country’ The problem with Marxism is Marxists. Having discovered this world system, they are persuaded they have acquired a hammer-lock on infallibility. Jim Higgins, More Years for the Locust A week has rarely been so long a time in politics: these are not just terrible but terribly strange times. Events deemed impossible by erudite observers,
by China Miéville The stricken punditocracy agrees that Donald Trump is missing a crucial quality, a je ne sais quoi necessary for his office. He may be president, but he is not presidential. The liberal world is in mourning for this dispositional quiddity, presidentialness. According to one recent poll, 70 per cent of Americans surveyed held that Trump has – particularly in his genuinely startling use of social media, his deliberately offensive provocations – acted ‘unpresidentially’. Plucking examples from vast reserves, the LA Times decries Trump’s ‘self-indulgent and unpresidential demeanor’; the Village Voice his ‘unpresidential’ ‘antics’; the Atlantic ‘the
by China Miéville. A wall is always going to be beautiful. In the future, it will be ‘impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful’, in the words of the President, however tawdry and inadequate to its own stated purpose it actually is when built, if ever built at all.
by China Miéville In a rough landscape in central Africa, men are at work. They carry fire, haul industrial parts, wheeze under protective masks. They’re sweating and exhausted. When at last evening comes, they clock off and shower for a long time under cobbled-together plumbing. Then they rummage in battered wardrobes, bring out extraordinary clothes, and transform. Crocodile shoes; canary jackets; Savile Row shirts. Twirling canes, they set out through the dust to strike a pose. To perform. A strut-off in a late-night bar.
by China Miéville. The Sadocratic Impulse Two women sit leaning against a wall, wrapped in dirty clothes. Their hair is raddled, their faces filthy. One holds a bottle, the other a cardboard sign on which is scrawled a slogan both plaintive and defiant. But their smiles are arch, and the schmutz on their faces is as artlessly precise as a child’s clown makeup – easy on, easy off. Halloween. This is a fancy-dress party, and the women have come as the destitute.
by China Miéville. 2012’s essay London’s Overthrow, a diagnostic snapshot of the city between riots and Olympics, has had various incarnations – in a magazine, online, in print. And now it is available in French from Pocket, along with a new introduction for French readers. With our thanks to the publishers for their permission, here we reproduce that introduction in English. This is a peculiar political moment, feeling by abrupt turn deadened and static, increasingly apocalyptic, and unexpectedly, wrenchingly generative of Sehnsucht, all in lurching rhythmless rhythm. It’s an indication of this unpredictability that scant weeks after they were
FICTION by China Miéville I have to talk to you about the man we saw, the man in the dusty hat. I know you remember. Stop for a moment. I know you have a thousand questions, starting with Where have I been? What I want to start with is the man in the hat. I was late to the conference. I’d had to stay in to watch a builder squint at the cracks in my outside wall and across my kitchen ceiling, cracks that had been there for a long time, ever since I moved in, but that started
by China Miéville Dystopias infect official reports. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) demands a shift in our emissions by a third to avoid utter disaster. KPMG, in the leaden chattiness of corporate powerpoint-ese, sees the same horizon. NASA part-funds a report warning that systemic civilizational collapse ‘is difficult to avoid.’ We may quibble with the models, but not that the end of everything is right out there, for everyone to discuss.