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feeding the swarm

Science Fiction gets me up in the morning.

Excerpt from a comment to a friend

Kraken - China Mieville

...I couldn't make myself like it, I'm afraid. It felt like a Pollock painting - splashes of pretty colour, very witty banter, nice Neverwhere 2.0 world-building, etc. But the architecture is just not there. No arc, no blueprint. Just a mess of magic without rules. Why does stealing the kraken mess with fate as it does? Why would nobody else later discover evolution if it had not been discovered by Darwin? Worst of all, there was no "point" to care about, and to resolve the philosophical questions raised. Just a dribbling, cypher ending.


At first appearance, a tangle of writhing mysteries, promising much - clever, witty language! Mieville is great at that - but ultimately, there's no CNS ruling the writhing.


The suggestive writhing proves to be pretty much aimless wiggling, like the Potemkin "mystery" of TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, or LOST. I hate that shit. 


I tend to review books which I find impressive, or find painful.


This is the second type.


I don't dislike zany concepts, or whimsy verbiage. But sometimes an intelligent writer will use them like squid ink, to obfuscate a weak story.


And come to think of it, Mieville looks a bit like Damon Lindelof, the guy who made LOST. Let that be a warning to you, Mieville, you ball-headed dork. 



I haven't even seen LOST, just heard of how frustrating the ending was to the fans - no substance to an initially very promising set of mysteries. But I loathe Lindelof for his Potemkin-mystery treatment of Prometheus. He promises a plan... but there is none.


Kraken, sadly, is a bit like that.


Kraken is the best illustration I know of the Sanderson Laws of Magic. These aren't absolute - there are many exceptions - but they apply absolutely to what is wrong with Kraken.



Sanderson’s First Law of Magics: 

An author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the reader understands said magic.



Sanderson’s Second Law of Magics: 

Sanderson’s Second Law can be written very simply. It goes like this:

Limitations > Powers


Sanderson’s Third Law of Magics: 

Expand what you already have before you add something new.




Discipline, Mr. Mieville.