China Mieville on Monsters

I stumbled across this gem, where Mieville talks about his inspirations.  The interview is somewhat old now, but worth a read.


But it’s stuff on monsters that really stands out.

“I use AD&D-type fascination with teratology in a lot of my books, and I have the original Monster Manual, and the Monster Manual 2, and the Fiend Folio. I still collect role-playing game bestiaries, because I find that kind of fascination with the creation of the monstrous tremendously inspiring, basically. And the golem that you’re talking about in AD&D, it’s very perspicacious of you, because that is directly an influence….One of the things that I love so much about fantasy and science fiction is that the weirdness that it creates is always at its best completely its own end and also metaphorically and symbolically laden. I get very frustrated when I read certain types of magical realism and you end up saying, “Okay, I understand this figure of this golden elf is symbolizing such and such.” The thing about genre fantasy is that it is its own end, but it also does that job of symbolizing. I think about something like Gulliver’s Travels. The figures of the Lilliputians are partly a way for Gulliver to overlook society from a godlike height and to make satirical, symbolic comments, but it’s also, “Hey look, little tiny people! How cool!” I love the idea of golems. It strikes me as a very powerful, imaginative, weird idea. But it’s also an idea that is symbolically fraught and laden, and particularly in a book which is partially about people, politically speaking, people taking control of the fruits of their own labor. So, the golems are both just really cool monsters but also something that functions as part of the political texture of the book.

I’m in this fucking business for the monsters. The monsters are the main thing that I love about the fantastic. And unfortunately, you can’t really sell books of monsters to publishers. They insist on stories linking them.”


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