Reddit…Kraken by China Mieville

I’ve been a long time fan of China’s work ever since he were a nipper at t’Macmillan along with me back at the turn of the millennium and I’m glad to say that although some of his books haven’t really been up my street they’ve never been disappointing.  Kraken however, was not only up my street it was virtually in our house and has gone straight into my Top Books category.

What I loved most about this book was the fact that it has the feeling of being a unique, complete whole artistic project – it is what it is at every level, with the language and structure contributing as much as the storyline, the characters and the premise.  It reminded me very much of Mike Harrison and Mervyn Peake’s work with its vision of a reified spiritual topology coming across with a relentless cohesive power that’s rare in anyone’s work.   To read it was to be transported into a wonderful, awesome version of reality that was rich, intriguing and satisfying with its highly contemporary vision of religious belief and deep intuitive understanding of magic.  It’s full of superlative moments of fun as well as one of the best female characters I’ve come across in modern SFF, the deliciously rebellious and vulgar Collingswood.

Having said that the sheer density of the experience is quite something and I did need to counteract the effect with 4 light romance novels to balance myself out while I was reading it – so that’s a 4 on the Crusie Scale, one of the many personal parameters I’ll be introducing as a way of evaluating the experience of reading. 

The Crusie Scale is named after wonderful romance author http://www.jennycrusie.com/ Jennie Crusie whose humorous, earthy trips to the Land of Hearts-Entwined provide the necessary uplift for me to counter the massive, broody power of levianthic texts like Kraken.  It is not intended as a critical scale, it’s just a measure of balance.  Kraken is a huge, delicious intellectual and emotional trawl through the deeps of the spirit and mind.  It requires the witty warmth of 4 Crusies (and a Crusie can be any book delivering similar fodder for the soul) to counteract its benthic power for me.  That’s a really high score by the way, signifying the sheer mass of Kraken.

I will have to invent some more scales for various other effects.  If you have any ideas for similar kinds of scales, why not let me know?

4 comments

  1. There’s always the Late Scale – the cumulative number of minutes the reader is late for work / appointments as a result of not putting the book down when the reader should be getting ready.

    I read the spirit series by Rachel Aaron recently which had an embarrassingly high Late Rating.

    I’m not even going to tell you what the Quantum Gravity series scored. Let’s just say they should have come with a health warning: These books can seriously damage your credibility!

    :Dom

  2. I use the Crusie Scale as well, but also use the Pratchett Scale for how many Terry Pratchett books I need to read to offset the world news for that week. When it’s especially depressing or shows a distinct lack of justice, I can get up to 3 or 4 Discworld books in one weekend.

  3. Just finnished reading Chasing The Dragon, was hard work but in a good way, had to take my time and think, which is no easy when yer heids mince!
    Spookily enough I also have Kraken to read, both books piced up on my recent visit to my local Library.
    Fun fun fun

  4. I agree with the Late Scale – can be related to not putting book down when one should be getting ready, being so absorbed one misses one’s stop on the train or bus, or staying up so late reading that one has difficulty waking up in time for work/appointments the next day.

    a scale for how funny a book is (whether a comedic book or a dramatic one with touches of humour) – could be the Snort Scale (if you tend to snort with laughter) or the Bump Your Head on the Wall Scale (if you read in bed and laugh so much that you curl up with laughter and bump your head on the wall/bedhead as you uncurl).

    and for horror, you could have a Chocolate Scale or Teddy Bear Scale, rating how much chocolate you need to eat/how long you have to hug your teddy bear for to keep the terror at bay.

    my version of the Crusie Scale is the Taking a Break to Stare Aimlessly/Play with my Cats/Faff around on Facebook Scale, rating how often I have to stop reading and do something that requires much less brain power because the text is so rich/dense/demanding.
    some of the highest rating books on my Taking a Break Scale have been your Natural History, Steph Swainston’s Above the Snowline, and Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain.

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