Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kraken: Examined The Day After I Read It So Maybe I'll Be Embarrassed Later?

I finally tore into Kraken by China Mieville on the flight back from LaGuardia and it's, honestly a very China Mieville-y book. It's basically a Cthulu story, with Mieville bits thrown in. Two of the characters run around with a working phaser and Star Trek quips and while I'm not going to reveal the ending, if you read Kraken with the understanding that Mieville is very much a Marxist author, you can figure out an important trope that he counts on again and again within the book. It'll ruin a couple surprises, but not the last couple ones.

But the Marxism is secondary at least, to the point of this update, which is: I think the book is fantastic, I got a paperback copy in Munich, after I took part in an anti-fascist demonstration and it's worth buying whenever it comes out in the States, but....

The ending. Fucking hell. That ending.

Okay, past here are spoilers.

As in, the book is cool, the deeper it goes into it, the more I wanted to turn the next page to see what happened and the things that end up happening are epic and brilliant. Spoilers actually past here.

I could talk about the characters, but I'm going to be vague, one, because I have a limited amount of time and two, I'm not sure Kraken has come out in the States. ANYWAY.

Now, there's a loose coalition of good guys, fighting bad guys (ancient lurking evils) by the end. Who would have thought? But, to win the day, night and life on Earth forever after, the hero has to fight with a would-be reality author to rewrite reality for the entire goddamn world if not the universe to prevent apocalypse, bringing existence and counter-existence into play, in a battle of who'se pen is fastest and who has more power. It's sweeping, it involves the Big Bad at the end who has Minions and unseen tentacles. It's pretty trippy and sick.

But it's a fakeout. There's another Bad, a smaller, more insidious Bad, that lurked under the noise of the book and the deafening screams of London in the baudy, visceral throes of Apocalypse and it turns out, this Bad wants to use a time-Molotov to erase evolution and the hero has to beam himself back to the first scene in the book to prevent this from happening and honestly, it doesn't really matter what happens after that. Something is erased, but, my issue is not with that, my issue is, that was a final twist that didn't out-twist the huge crescendo.

It wasn't a bigger twist. The stakes weren't higher and it didn't seem more important. And I don't think Mieville is pulling a Tolkien (remember, there's a much, much smaller Bad that's defeated in the Shire), because it wasn't liked Mieville lured me into a false sense of security. There was a huge fight and the the hero realizes, oh shit, something else is up and goes off to that. It was always meant to leave me breathless. Alternatively, the finger never left my throat.

Put simply, you go from one of the foremost creatures in the history of the magic world absorbing the power of the gigantic monster squid to insert itself as the arbiter of magic for eternity...a guy with a grudge against evolution and a homemade time incendiary? I found myself going OH SHIT YES OH SHIT YES OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT WAIT WHY DOES HE HAVE THE WHAT AND OH, WELL, OKAY, I GUESS?

Spoilers finished.

Kraken, I think, went for just one more trick and it simply wasn't more impressive than the one it followed. Then again, when you have doomsday cults of all stripes and perspectives, a range of assassins that are colored in neon and any other hue you can think of and guys running around like Kirk and Spock on Star Trek (not to mention, somehow working in phasers actually working and magical teleportation into the story) trying to stay one step ahead of the doomsday cults and assassins, holding apocalypse back, you've probably already won.

Kraken was a page turner, and like The City and The City before it, I look forward to reading it again. Also, I finally finished 2666 last week, too. That, I promise you, will be a story for another time.

Say, Monday?

Again, time is limited, so I went for the first British artist I could think of and it ended up being the Pipettes. This is the sole Pipettes song played by Kieron Gillen at Thought Bubble 2010, if I recall correctly and dancing to it felt like I had finally done something right. To approximate the experience: Listen to it once on a normal volume and listen to it again cranked up. When you hear it cranked up, that soaring vocal track becomes sublime.

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