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Reading China Mieville's latest, "Iron Council." There are a handful of authors for whom I will lay out money for a hardcover, no questions asked--Pratchett, McKinley, Gaiman, Martin. Mieville, author of "Perdido Street Station," is the most recent addition to the list. (Not to be confused with "will maybe lay out money for a hardcover after dithering about it for awhile and feeling vaguely guilty," of which there are many more, depending on my mood and current cash flow.)

Still waiting for the megaplot to start. Mieville has this tendency to get all the characters, get them motivated, get you interested, and then suddenly, several hundred pages in, drops the REAL plot on you like a ton of intriguingly painted bricks. I'm not sure if he's going to do that here, or not, but I also don't much care--I'd read a manual on fixing Volvo engines if Mieville wrote it.

And boy, reading this stuff before bed will give you some seriously weirdass dreams. Had a whole montage of steampunk cyborgs grinding through my brain for half the night. Gronk.

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Haven't picked up his latest yet, but The Scar and Perdido Street Station were astoundingly original and definitely did a wonderful job at dragging me 'into the worldview of the characters' which many authors fail to do despite their best efforts.

I have to disagree with tacking the convenient label of 'steampunk' onto them, however. While steam technology does exist in Mieville's world, the amount of magical and other influences would seem to make it a poor candidate for inclusion in 'steam technology science fiction'.

Not that I'm terribly fond of either the 'cyberpunk' or 'steampunk' labels. The first has mutated terribly, the genre' following the label (early 'cyberpunk' writings hardly required any inclusion of either cybernetic technology or 'punk' symbology, but the modern crap being cranked out seems built around these two facets of what was once a much more far-reaching genre'.) the second term is poorly descriptive at best, IMHO, most of it being not particularly different or more 'punky' than anything written by Wells or Verne.

*grin* Steampunk is a crude approximation at best, I agree, but I dunno what else to call it...it's...just...different, and since there's a real emphasis on all the bizarre clockwork and machinery elements, "steampunk" is the closest. It's still kind of wide of the mark, I grant you.

My brother and I, both fans of this author, have had a long standing argument on what genre, if any, he falls into. Despite three years of two bibliophiles doing our best, with occasional calls for reinforcements, we have NOTHINK!!

It's just to odd and beautiful.

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