Extrapolation

Saving the City in China Miéville's Bas-Lag Novels

Extrapolation (2009), 50, (2), 224–238.

Abstract

China Miéville's Bas-Lag novels combine enthusiasm for progressive, collective politics with a fascination for charismatic, prickly loners, and combine evocations of urban vitality with imaginations of oppression and exploitation. Progressive political movements are launched, but fail; oppressive or authoritarian rulers are too strong. Miéville's narratives substitute a trope, that of saving the city, which is accomplished in a different fashion in each novel, but always by an ambiguous combination of collective action and the action of charismatic, isolated heroes: Isaac in Perdido Street Station, Bellis and Doul in The Scar, Judah in Iron Council. The novels present exciting images of political hope, even salvation, but make it clear that for the protagonists these are only images

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Author details

Palmer, Christopher