Today on Amazon.co.uk I found the final jacket description for China Miéville’s new short story collection, Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories:
A highly anticipated collection of short fiction listed in the Guardian’s ‘Essential Literary Calendar’ for 2015 from one of the most exciting and original authors writing today.
The multi-award-winning China Miéville has been called ‘the equal of David Mitchell or Zadie Smith’ (Scotland on Sunday), whose ‘inventiveness and precision is awesome’ (Independent), and who writes with ‘an imagination of immense power’ (Guardian). In this extraordinary series of stories, defying definitions and literary stereotyping, he once again proves why he ‘is one of the most interesting and promising writers to appear in the last few years in any genre’ (Carlos Ruiz Zafon).
In these stories, glistening icebergs float above urban horizons; a burning stag runs wild through the city; the ruins of industry emerge unsteadily from the sea; and the abandoned generations in a decayed space-elevator look not up at the stars but down at the Earth. Ranging from portraits of childhood to chilling ghost stories, from dystopian visions to poignant evocations of uncanny love, with beautiful prose and melancholy wit, this breath-taking collection poses searching questions of what it is to be human in an unquiet world. It is a humane and unsentimental investigation of our society, our world, and ourselves.
There’s a bit to dissect there, so let’s dig on in!
Firstly, it’s kind of interesting that there’s no mention of science fiction, fantasy, or even New Weird. It seems as though the publisher (Pan Macmillan) is attempting to market this book much more as literary fiction, albeit with a magical-realist flavour. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in fact, the more readers and acclaim this collection brings to Miéville’s work, the better. I just hope they haven’t held out on including anything too much in the realm of genre fiction, such as (and this is some wishful thinking) a new Bas-Lag story.
Let’s now look at what’s said to be included. We have floating icebergs (“Polynia”), a burning stag (“Estate”), industry emerging from the sea (“Covehithe”), and a space elevator (“The Rope is the World”). All these are pretty obvious. The next few descriptions are a bit trickier. Portraits of childhood could include some of the stories I’ve just listed, but chilling ghost stories? Probably something new, as I can’t think of any stories about ghosts published since the last collection, Looking For Jake. Dystopian visions would probably cover “The Rope is the World”, although there could be something new there as well. And what about a poignant evocation of uncanny love? Nothing comes to mind, so it’s probably an unreleased story as well.
One publisher’s catalogue mentioned that this collection will have seven previously published stories, plus a handful of new works. There’s definitely the four stories I named above, which leaves three others. I think they’re most likely to be “The Ninth Technique”, “The Design”, and if you count flash fiction from a blog as previously published, the collection’s titular story “Three Moments of an Explosion” would round it out to seven. If you don’t count that, then I’d say the seventh would be “Pulvadmonitor: The Dust’s Warning”, from the second Thackery T. Lambshead collection, seeing as Looking For Jake had “Entry Taken from a Medical Encyclopaedia” from the first of those collections.
There’s been no confirmation yet on the total number of stories, but I’m hoping it will end up being a big collection. Neil Gaiman’s new one just came out and it had around 25 in total — not that I think Three Moments will be as big. I just want to be surprised with a whole slew of new stuff! Or even just one new Bas-Lag story…