Posts Tagged ‘China Miéville’
St Matthew’s Street Station. A Basse-Lag Christmas Tale.
The latest Tower Rampart Worker was rubbish, thought Merk. On the front-page was the news that sales of the paper had been “brilliant” at a Unite the Unite Meeting, and that three Cactae/Cacti had joined. He turned to Travailleur Hebdo. In thick print they denounced the ‘Ramp’ Central Committee’s “bureaucratic centralism” and the formation of the 214th ‘Democratic Opposition’ to the CC. Comrade Dream-Weaver Alex’s predictions of permanent revolution in New Ipswich came in for some stick.
Merk had no more time to look through the left press. It was the Yule Eve. He had three days off from his job tending the Sphagnum Moss Garden on top of the Waterfront University. There was an illegal bottle of cold Vodka, but no truffles, in the fridge….
Outcast Oliphant-people grew the tubers just outside the City. They brought them to the market to sell, by stalls offering pungent curry-wurst, kaki fruit, and piles of ruby-olives. He would have to go there as soon as possible.
The route from Merk’s flat passed by the HQ of Mayor Benedict the 2nd.Twenty stories high the lower floors were decked in video-posters of the Municipal Chief and his Deputy, Andrew ‘Coco’. They read, The Community Program Makes Free! In the narrow road a gang of the unemployed was cleaning the pavement with tooth brushes. A small child was watching them, clearly terrified.
On the Corn Hill there were no traders. A rally was taking place. On the steps of the old City Hall the leader of the Progressive English Patriots, a Remade with a twisted mouth cut out of a large pumpkin head, was holding forth. He caught only a few lines. “The Malignant Cult of the Absent Without Leave – AWL …” he ranted, lips covered with spittle. “I scorn their pathetic minions…” “We need a Wall, an anti-Fascist Wall, to stave off …” So this was the New Man!
Merk would have laughed. But on the edges of the tiny audience hovered, menacingly, the Patriots’ Allies, the Green Shorts militia of Lord George ‘Gallows’ Spode.
At 15 o’clock there was still time to get the fungi. It was too expensive to take a sky-taxi and the Montgolfière was too slow. Yet St Matthew’s Street Station was not far away. It would take him to directly to the Oliphants. The Subway at the Roundabout led to the intersection of the Meridional Line to London, and the Septentrional Line to their Tuddenham settlement. The Moss Gardner bought a cheap return Metro ticket and was soon on the way.
The Underground came to the surface at Westerfield. The train paused at the crossing with the Lowestoft railway to let pass a long succession of Goods Wagons, carrying prisoners to the Kessingland Holiday Camp. The Mayor had ordered a pre-Yule vagrant-sweep of the streets. The Official City Paper, the Ipswich Stella, had said that they were to undergo mentoring and training. Rumours in the last two local pubs where drinks stronger than 3% were permitted were already circulating that another batch of undesirables were to be ‘remade’. The groans from the rail carriages did not indicate much enthusiasm at this prospect.
Merk alighted at the village. The Oliphant Greenhouses were stacked along the side of the Finn Valley, gleaming in the winter sun. There was no sign of anybody selling their produce. He would have walked into the market gardens. But warning against this were notices saying, “Private Property. Trespassers will be Eradicated.”
How could he get the truffles? Obviously, one could ask a villager. In front was the Holy Lamb Inn, where caffeine free espresso, soda drinks and warm real ale (not more than 1%!)” were for sale. From the whooping sounds and ‘Praise the Lords’ there must be a prayer meeting going in inside. Merk was registered under the new ‘religious registration law’ as a non-believer. He would not approach the Tavern.
While pondering this somebody came out of the Lamb. He was grey, tallish and wore unusually heavy spectacles, but all that Merk registered was that he had a large snake coiled around him, and he was uttering “I am Healed” It was hard not to recognise Vek, the Holy Roller, who had stood on the Benedict Slate for the last election and had finally won Gippeswick Ward after 20 years of standing. Vek cried out, “The Lord’s a-comin’, it’s the Rapture!”
It was at this moment that the heavens split asunder and the Interplanetary Revolutionary Communist-Marxist Federation sent down its ships to liberate the City of Ipswich….
Document original received in Rendlesham Forest Sunday 19th of December 2012.
China Miéville is undoubtably a genius.
I was going to write the usual Coatesy 200 page Blog with 50 pages of footnotes and references.
Instead I will simply say this:
To cite Wikipedia on the later:
Judah’s story begins some twenty years before the novel’s opening. Judah was hired as a railroad scout for New Crobuzon, charged with mapping terrain, and informing the land’s inhabitants of the railroad’s coming. While doing so, Judah spends time with the Stiltspear, a race of indescribable creatures who can disguise themselves as trees and conjure golems, living creatures made from unliving matter. Judah attempts to warn the Stiltspear away, but they won’t listen and he must settle for making a few recordings and beginning to learn their golemetric arts. Eventually, he returns to the railroad, which does indeed wipe out the Stiltspear. Shortly afterward, Judah, a prostitute named Ann-Hari, and a Remade named Uzman lead a revolution in which the rail workers drive the overseers away, free the Remade, and hijack the train, transforming it into a moving socialist dwelling.
The division between Besźel and Ul Qoma in The City and the City could be said to be an extended reflection on ethnic divisions.
.His latest book, Embassytown Embassytown takes place in the title city, on the planet Arieka. Immerser Avice Benner Cho can speak the language of the Hosts; those who can are genetically-engineered linguists known as Ambassador.
It could be said to be an extended reflection on this:
“..the diversity of idioms on earth prevents everybody form uttering the words which otherwise, at one single stroke, would materialise as truth.”
Stéphane Mallarmé, as cited by Walter Benjamin.
This may be a guess but since I think China knows Esther Leslie I think not.
The Runagate Rampant (which figures in the triology which began with Perdito Street and ends with Iron Council) quotes Rosa Luxemberg (without citing her name):
Luxemburg’s last known words, written on the evening of her murder, were about her belief in the masses, and in what she saw as the inevitability of revolution:
“The leadership has failed. Even so, the leadership can and must be recreated from the masses and out of the masses. The masses are the decisive element, they are the rock on which the final victory of the revolution will be built. The masses were on the heights; they have developed this ‘defeat’ into one of the historical defeats which are the pride and strength of international socialism. And that is why the future victory will bloom from this ‘defeat’.
‘Order reigns in Berlin!’ You stupid henchmen! Your ‘order’ is built on sand. Tomorrow the revolution will already ‘raise itself with a rattle’ and announce with fanfare, to your terror:
I was, I am, I shall be!”