China Miéville’s presence looms over genre fiction. Over the course of a dozen books, Miéville has ranged freely across categories and classifications—epic and urban fantasy, social and hard science fiction, crime, horror and more. And in each case, he addresses, dances with, pokes at and, ultimately, departs from, the traditions and expectations therein. Although many thousands of words have been written trying to put Miéville’s work into neat buckets (“New Weird!” “Fantastika!” “Literary Speculation!” “Hauntological Slipstream!” “Tentacular Metafusion!”), time has proven that a China Miéville book is ultimately, well—Miévillian. The man is a category unto himself.
And what is Miévillian? I’m tempted to use words like “tremendous,” “mind-blowing,” “amazeballs,” and “unmitigated brilliance,” but that doesn’t help especially. As each book is wildly different from its predecessor, the trick is to look at the qualities instead—a Miévillian book is packed with glorious entertainment, epic scale, powerful themes, intellectual depth, creativity of language, subversive approaches and, with a few rare exceptions, monsters.