Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Not quite the right kraken apocalypse

Well, I finally got the chance to buy China Mieville's latest, Kraken, over the weekend. I've been devouring it ever since, and I'm about halfway through right now (I'd probably go faster if I weren't still polishing my next EMC story).

Folks, this is a very different kind of Mieville novel. For one thing, it's not what I was expecting, which was a modern spin on H.P. Lovecraft. This isn't a Cthulhu mythos tale at all, although there's been one joking reference to the Elder God so far.

Actually, there are a lot of jokes in this novel, and that surprises me as much as anything else. Who knew China Mieville had a sense of humor? The biggest source of wisecracks is Collingswood, a constable assigned to an under-the-radar paranormal division of the London police. She looks like a blonde Amy Winehouse, dresses like someone posing as a police officer for a costume ball, and has a seriously bad attitude. I love her.

But about the plot (Funny how that's never the first thing I talk about, eh?). It revolves around a stereotypically impossible crime: the theft of a giant squid, still in its case, from the depths of the Natural History Museum. The squid and the museum are real, but I doubt that Billy Harrow, the protagonist of Kraken, was involved in the preservation of the actual beast. Anyway, he's the one who discovers it missing, and for some reason that makes him very important to a bunch of scary and not-so-scary denizens of what Neil Gaiman would call "London Below."

Actually, I see a lot of Gaiman influence in Kraken (mostly from Neverwhere and American Gods) - and a lot of Clive Barker influence, too (mostly Weaveworld). Mieville has come up with some seriously freaky villains so far, and I don't even know who the real squid thief is yet. It might be someone I've already met, or it might not.

All I know right now is that the squid's disappearance seems to herald the end of the world...but not the right end of the world, according to a cult that actually worships giant squids. Thus the quote at the top of this blog entry. Yes, it is a quote. Like I said, who knew China Mieville had a sense of humor?

I have no idea whether that humor will carry through to the end of the novel or not, but I hope it will. And I hope Collingswood survives, too. She could use a novel of her own. ;)

1 comment:

E said...

I really enjoyed Kraken. The reason *why* the corpse was pilfered was, to me at least, a real curveball-- and rather delightful.

I don't take this novel as seriously as the Bas Lag series, but it's Mieville's spin on the urban fantasy onslaught, and it's enjoyable pulp with a few choice innovations.