China Miéville

English writer (born 1972)

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China Miéville
Miéville at Utopiales (2010)
Miéville at Utopiales (2010)
BornChina Tom Miéville
(1972-09-06) 6 September 1972 (age 48)
Norwich, United Kingdom
OccupationShort-story writer, novelist, essayist and comic book author
GenreUrban fantasy
Weird fiction
Literary movementNew Weird
Notable worksPerdido Street Station (2000)
The City & the City (2009)
October: The Story of the Russian Revolution (2017)

China Tom Miéville FRSL (/miˈvəl/ mee-AY-vəl; born 6 September 1972) is a British urban fantasy fiction author, essayist, comic book writer, socialist political activist and literary critic. He often describes his work as weird fiction and is allied to the loosely associated movement of writers called New Weird.

Miéville has won numerous awards, including the Arthur C. Clarke Award (thrice), the British Fantasy Award (twice), Locus Awards for Best Fantasy Novel (quartz) and Best Science Fiction Novel and Best Novelette and Best Young Adult Book, as well as the Hugo, Kitschies, and World Fantasy Awards.

Miéville is active in hard-left politics in the UK, and has previously been a member of the International Socialist Organization (US), and the short-lived International Socialist Network (UK). He was formerly a member of the Socialist Workers Party, and in 2013 became a founding member of Left Unity.[1] He stood for Regent's Park and Kensington North for the Socialist Alliance in the 2001 UK General election, gaining 1.2% of votes cast. He published his PhD thesis on Marxism and international law as a book in 2005. During 2012–13 he was writer-in-residence at Roosevelt University in Chicago. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2015.[2]

Early life

Born in Norwich, Miéville was brought up in Willesden and has lived in London since early childhood. He grew up with his sister Jemima and mother Claudia, a translator, writer and teacher, daughter of Leo Claude Vaux Miéville, whose wife Youla (née Harrison) was granddaughter of the 4th Baron Hatherton.[3][4] His parents separated soon after his birth, and he has said that he "never really knew" his father.[5] They chose his first name, China, from a dictionary, looking for a beautiful name.[5] By virtue of his mother's birth in New York City, Miéville holds dual American and British citizenship. In 1982 his mother married Paul Lightfoot; they divorced in 1992.[6][7][8]


Miéville attended Oakham School, a co-educational independent school in Oakham, Rutland, for two years. At the age of eighteen, in 1990, he taught English for a year in Egypt, where he developed an interest in Arab culture and in Middle Eastern politics.

Miéville studied for a BA degree in social anthropology at Clare College, Cambridge, graduating in 1994, and gained both a master's degree and PhD in international relations from the London School of Economics in 2001. Miéville has also held a Frank Knox fellowship at Harvard University.[5] After becoming dissatisfied with the ability of post-modern theories to explain history and political events, he became a Marxist at university.[5] A book version of his PhD thesis, entitled Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law, was published in the UK in 2005 by Brill in their "Historical Materialism" series, and in the United States in 2006 by Haymarket Books.

Literary influences

Miéville has said he plans to write a novel in every genre.[9] To this end, he has "constructed an oeuvre" that is indebted to genre styles ranging from classic American Western (in Iron Council) to sea-quest (in The Scar) to detective noir (in The City & the City).[10]

Yet Miéville's works all describe fantastical or supernatural worlds or scenarios; Robert Hanks has discussed his work in relation to the categories of science fiction, of fantasy and of "urban surrealism".[11] Miéville has listed M. John Harrison, Michael de Larrabeiti, Michael Moorcock, Thomas M. Disch, Charles Williams, Tim Powers, and J. G. Ballard as literary "heroes"; he has also frequently discussed as influences H. P. Lovecraft, Mervyn Peake, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Gene Wolfe. He has said that he would like his novels "to be read for [his imagined city] New Crobuzon as Iain Sinclair does for London". Miéville has admitted that his books contain some allusions to Russian writers, including Andrei Platonov, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Evgeny Voiskunsky [ru] and Isai Lukodyanov [ru].[12]

Miéville played a great deal of Dungeons & Dragons and similar roleplaying games (RPGs) in his youth. He attributes his tendency to systematisation of magic and theology to this influence.[5] In his novel Perdido Street Station, he refers to characters interested "only in gold and experience". The February 2007 issue of Dragon Magazine interpreted the world presented in his books according to Dungeons & Dragons rules. The Player's Handbook for the Fifth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons cited his novel Perdido Street Station as a source of inspiration for the game's designers.[13]

In 2010 Miéville made his first foray into writing for RPGs with a contribution to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game supplement Guide to the River Kingdoms.[14]

Miéville works to move fantasy away from J. R. R. Tolkien's influence, which he finds stultifying and reactionary. He once described Tolkien as "the wen on the arse of fantasy literature".[15] Miéville has cited Michael de Larrabeiti's Borrible Trilogy as one of his biggest influences; he wrote an introduction for the trilogy's 2002 reissue. The introduction was eventually left out of the book, but appears on de Larrabeiti's website.[16] Miéville is also indebted to Moorcock, having cited his essay "Epic Pooh" as the source upon which he is "riffing" or even simply "cheerleading" in his critique of Tolkien-imitative fantasy. Despite this, he has praised Tolkien for his contributions to fantasy, especially in a 2009 blog post where he gave 5 reasons why Tolkien was praise-worthy.[17]

Miéville's left-wing politics become evident in his writing (particularly in Iron Council, his third Bas-Lag novel) as do his theoretical ideas about literature. In several panel discussions at conventions about the relationship of politics and writing, he has opposed right-wingers in heated arguments. He has, however, said:

I'm not a leftist trying to smuggle in my evil message by the nefarious means of fantasy novels. I'm a science fiction and fantasy geek. I love this stuff. And when I write my novels, I'm not writing them to make political points. I'm writing them because I passionately love monsters and the weird and horror stories and strange situations and surrealism, and what I want to do is communicate that. But, because I come at this with a political perspective, the world that I'm creating is embedded with many of the concerns that I have. [...] I'm trying to say I’ve invented this world that I think is really cool and I have these really big stories to tell in it and one of the ways that I find to make that interesting is to think about it politically. If you want to do that too, that's fantastic. But if not, isn't this a cool monster?[18]


Miéville has previously been a member of the International Socialist Organization (US) and, until 13 March 2013, was also a member of the Socialist Workers Party (UK).[19] He stood unsuccessfully for the House of Commons of the United Kingdom in the 2001 general election as a candidate for the Socialist Alliance, gaining 459 votes, i.e. 1.2%,[20] in Regent's Park and Kensington North, a Labour constituency.[21]

In January 2013, he emerged as a critic of the SWP's leadership and in March resigned[19] over the leadership's handling of rape allegations against a SWP member.[22][23]

In August 2013, Miéville was one of nine signatories (along with fellow novelist and former Children's Laureate Michael Rosen, veteran film-maker and socialist Ken Loach, academic Gilbert Achcar and General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Kate Hudson) of an open letter to the Guardian newspaper announcing the foundation of a "new party of the left", to be called Left Unity. The letter, which claims that Labour policies on "austerity" and breaking of ties with trades unions amount to a "final betrayal of the working-class people it was founded to represent", states that Left Unity will be launched at a "founding conference" in London on 30 November 2013 and will provide, as an "alternative" to Labour, "a party that is socialist, environmentalist, feminist and opposed to all forms of discrimination".[1]

In 2015, he was announced as one of the founding editors of a new quarterly, Salvage, with editor-in-chief Rosie Warren, editor Jamie Allinson and contributing editors Richard Seymour, Magpie Corvid and Charlotte Bence.[24]

October, published in 2017, documents the dramatic events of the Russian revolution. Jonathan Steele reviewed it for The Guardian. Steele considers it an ideological though nuanced retelling: “known as a left-wing activist, … Miéville writes with the brio and excitement of an enthusiast who would have wanted the revolution to succeed. But he is primarily interested in the dramatic narrative — the weird facts — of the most turbulent year in Russia’s history”[25]


A comprehensive list of Miéville's work is available at the ISFDB.


Bas-Lag series
Stand-alone novels
  • King Rat (1998) ISBN 978-0312890735
  • Un Lun Dun (2007) 978-0230015869
  • The City & the City (2009) ISBN 978-1405000178
  • Kraken (2010) ISBN 978-0333989500
  • Embassytown (2011) ISBN 978-0230750760
  • Railsea (2012) ISBN 978-0230765108
Short story collections
Children's picture books
  • The Worst Breakfast (2016), co-written and illustrated by Zak Smith
Comic books
  • Hellblazer (1988 series) – #250 "Holiday Special": "Snow Had Fallen" (feb. 2009)
  • Justice League (2011 series) – #23.3 "Dial E #1: Dial Q for Qued" (nov. 2013)
  • Dial H (2012–2013 series) – #1-#15


  • Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law (2005). Leiden: Brill. ISBN 1-931859-33-7
  • Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction (2009), with Mark Bould. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press.
  • October: The Story of the Russian Revolution (2017). Verso.
  • A Spectre Haunting Europe (2022)



Miéville just after winning the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2010


  1. ^ a b "Letters: "Left Unity ready to offer an alternative"". The Guardian. 12 August 2013.
  2. ^ "Royal Society of Literature » Current RSL Fellows".
  3. ^ Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage, ed. Patrick Montague-Smith, Debrett's Peerage Ltd, 1995, p. 1264
  4. ^ Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, 107th edition, vol. 2, Burke's Peerage Ltd, 2003, p. 1823
  5. ^ a b c d e Gordon, Joan (November 2003). "Reveling in Genre: An Interview with China Miéville". Science Fiction Studies. DePauw University. 30 (Part 3). Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  6. ^ Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage, ed. Patrick Montague-Smith, Debrett's Peerage Ltd, 1995, p. 1264
  7. ^ Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, 107th edition, vol. 3, Burke's Peerage Ltd, 2003, p. 3983
  8. ^ Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law, China Miéville, Haymarket Books, 2006, p. v
  9. ^ "A Truly Monstrous Thing to Do: Mieville Interview" Archived 12 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine, '
  10. ^ Shurin, Jared (4 August 2015). "A Category Unto Himself: The Works of = China Miéville". Tor Books. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  11. ^ Hanks, Robert (15 June 2009). "The City and the City by China Miéville: review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 17 October 2013. In the corners of literature where such divisions are regarded as important, there is a debate about what genre China Miéville's novels belong to. He has twice won the Arthur C Clarke award for science fiction, but sci-fi purists complain that his frequent breaches of the laws of nature – magic, in other words – place him in the 'fantasy' camp. [...] Miéville himself dislikes that label, with its overtones of elves and dwarves, and has suggested the term 'weird'. A more precise category might be 'urban surrealism': surveying his career so far, it looks as if his central concern is life in the modern city, though filtered through dreams and nightmares.
  12. ^ Maltsev, Mikhail (25 October 2017). "Nadeyus' Nikto Ne Sochtet Oktyabr' Nekrtichnoy Agiografiey" [I Hope Nobody Will Count That October Is an Uncritical Hagiography] (in Russian). Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  13. ^ [1], D&D Official Homepage.
  14. ^ "Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to the River Kingdoms (PFRPG) Print Edition", Paizo Publishing Website.
  15. ^ "Scar by China Mieville". Retrieved 5 May 2011.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ China Miéville, "'The Borribles'. An Introduction".
  17. ^ "Amazon Book Review". Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  18. ^ Lou Anders. "The Believer – Interview with China Miéville". Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  19. ^ a b "Resigning from the Socialist Workers Party", International Socialism, 11 March 2013
  20. ^ "BBC NEWS – VOTE 2001 – RESULTS & CONSTITUENCIES – Regent's Park & Kensington North". BBC News.
  21. ^ Ansible 168, July 2001.
  22. ^ Laurie Penny, "What does the SWP's way of dealing with sex assault allegations tell us about the left?", New Statesman, 11 January 2013
  23. ^ Paul Kellogg "Britain: Reflections on the crisis in the Socialist Workers Party", LINKS – International Journal of Socialist Renewal (blog), 13 January 2013.
  24. ^ Contributors Archived 13 March 2018 at the Wayback Machine, Salvage.
  25. ^ "October by China Miéville review – a brilliant retelling of the Russian Revolution". The Guardian. 17 May 2017.
  26. ^ Miéville, China (November–December 2011). "London's Overthrow". Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  27. ^ "Paramount Vantage Gets 'Details'", IndieWire Archived 28 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ "The City & the City at Lifeline Theatre | Theater review". Time Out Chicago. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  29. ^ Desk, BWW News. "Lifeline Theatre Continues its 30th Season With THE CITY & THE CITY". Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  30. ^ "The City & The City". MARIAM GHANI. 4 May 2015. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  31. ^ "Estate - based on the story by China Miéville". Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  32. ^ "Estate review: Urban folklore". SciFiNow. 11 September 2020. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  33. ^ a b "Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award: 2001 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 28 March 2009.
  34. ^ "Awards won by Perdido Street Station". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 28 March 2009.
  35. ^ a b "Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award: 2003 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 3 May 2009.
  36. ^ "Awards won by Scar". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 3 May 2009.
  37. ^ a b c "Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award: 2005 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 28 March 2009.
  38. ^ Flood, Alison (6 September 2010). "China Miéville and Paolo Bacigalupi tie for Hugo award". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  39. ^ Locus Publications (5 September 2010). "Locus Online News " 2010 Hugo Awards Winners". Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  40. ^ Locus Publications (31 October 2010). "Locus Online News " World Fantasy Awards Winners". Archived from the original on 23 May 2012. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  41. ^ "2012 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. Archived from the original on 9 April 2012. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
  42. ^ "Current Fellow". The John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.

Further reading

External links


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