Friday, May 15, 2020

Looking for Jake by China Mievile

After finishing Looking For Jake, my opinion of Mieville, already revised up after reading This Census Taker and rereading Kraken, has only gone up further. He is as good or better at short length as he is at longer. I’ve had Looking For Jake on the shelf for years, but for some reason had put off reading it. I think I had a vague sense that it was YA, but that wouldn’t have necessarily put me off. I really wish I’d read this sooner. There are no bad stories, and a few all timers.

The stand outs were: The Ball Room, a gothic ghost story transposed to a children’s ball pit in the play room of an Ikea-like store. This is an incredibly effective horror story. Reports of Certain Events in London, in which China Mieville receives a package of incomplete documents intended for a Charles Melville. The society to which those papers pertain study a fantastical invasion that’s been happening for centuries. It’s structured similarly to Call of Cthulhu and is one of the best stories in that vein I’ve read. Details, in which a young man learns a different way of seeing the world. This might be my favorite in the collection. And finally, The Tain, which is the most unique take on vampires I’ve read, with the exception of The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers. A forward to the standalone edition of that last one is where M John Harrison coined the term The New Weird to describe the work that Mieville, Vandermeer, KJ Bishop and a few others were doing.

The other stories were all very good as well. Most of the stories contain enough worldbuilding for a much longer work. The writing is excellent. There is an eeriness to them that is entirely effective; a sense of the numinous. Literary horrror/dark fantasy at its finest with a couple forays into kafka-esque scifi..

Highly Recommeneded for the collection, with my rating for the individual stories below.

Looking for Jake- Recommended
Foundation- Highly Recommended
The Ball Room- Canon Worthy
Reports of Certain Events in London- Canon Worthy
Familiar- Highly Recommended
Entry Taken From a Medical Encyclopedia- Recommended
Details- Canon Worthy
Go Between- Highly Recommended
Different Skies- Recommended
An End To Hunger- Highly Recommended
‘Tis The Season- Highly Recommended
Jack- Highly Recommended (especially if you’ve read Perdido Street Station)
On the Way to the Front- Recommended
The Tain- Canon Worthy

Owned But Previously Unread 2020 33/75

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