Iron Council

Sep 27, 21:16 by John Frost
Discussion of Mieville's new work.

(The review by Sean Williams and Kim Selling can be found here.)
Sep 28, 09:15 by Bluejack
I'm about halfway through the book, so I may have more to say about it later, but it strikes me as being a very different sort of novel than his previous works.

I very much agree with "lacks the spark" and "in search of freshness;" some of the particulars of the plot strike as being more than just a little ridiculous; and while Mieville is kicking the style up a notch, it feels like a raw fusion of James Joyce and Cormac McCarthy -- too raw.

However, the themes of revolution, intervention, and betrayal are powerful ones, and Mieville's treatment of the uneasy desire to belong -- and the fear of belonging -- is subtle and exciting.

So; great review guys, but I'm waiting to see how it turns out before I draw any firm conclusions.
Sep 28, 22:12 by travitt hamilton
More ridiculous than talking bird-men?
Sep 29, 03:21 by Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
It's fantasy...what makes a talking bird-man in fantasy particularly ridiculous?

Anyway, a very fair review, I think, and I'd agree that a core theme here is that the idea of revolution can be more important than revolution itself.

Sep 29, 08:19 by Bluejack
No, I don't object to Mieville's synthesis of animals to create new beings -- and in the Scar I thought the mosquito people were particularly interesting. It's not just grafting body parts together that makes his stuff interesting, it's what emerges from that combination.

However, a central plot point through a major part of the middle of Iron Council involves a large group of people stealing a train -- and the tracks it runs on. Building the track before the train; peeling it up behind the train. Even with the magics he posits, I'm afraid you can't make a very convincing escape from an army with cavalry, air ships and the like. A mile a day v. five miles an hour? No. Just... no.
Sep 30, 00:51 by Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
The logistics of the Perpetual Train never quite fell into place in my mind either. Among other things, it would mean that people, presumbaly on foot, could carry the tracks ahead of the train's current position faster than the train's movement. Why didn't they just ditch the train and trek, in that case? I wish someone would ask Mieville about this, actually.

Sep 30, 21:10 by Ted Chiang
I presume they wanted to keep the resources that the train contained/embodied.

I also wonder about the Perpetual Train from an economic standpoint. Even though they're now working for themselves, they don't reap any kind of tangible profit by doing so; they have to hunt for their own food now. It'd be one thing if they were charging fees (or bartering) for transporting people or goods on their train, but they're not. Their labor produces no surplus whatsoever; by picking up their rails behind them, they're destroying what they build. It seems very inefficient.

These objections might be answered if they had retrofit the train cars with tank treads. But that doesn't work as well as a metaphor. :)

I presume that in the same way that the idea of revolution can be more important than revolution itself, the symbolism of the Perpetual Train is more important than the practicality of it.

Sep 30, 22:52 by Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Yes. That certainly fits with Mieville's emphasis on creating stories that are believable on their own terms, rather than accurate in 'real world' terms, an approach he shares with M John Harisson.

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