China Miéville : Radical SF, Nostalgic Utopianism, and the Politics of the Past

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-186
Journal / PublicationThe CEA Critic
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


Miéville has never claimed that his politically informed, anti-authoritarian, radical SF is a literary innovation. Instead, he locates his work within an older tradition; he is, as he has explained, "staking out remembered territory" rather than exploring new ground (qtd. in Gordon, "Revelling" 367). Miéville's overall literary project can thus be seen as a form of radical remembering, a recovery of a forgotten or neglected generic past, which he uses to write back against conservative versions of the genre, from Tolkien's nostalgic evocation of a rural, orderly, and hierarchical England (and the less important but widely-disseminated work of his many imitators), to Jules Verne's evocations of capitalist expansion and industrial triumph over nature in works like Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea (1871) and The Mysterious Island (1875), to Robert Heinlein's evocations of a militarized free-market neo-liberal future in works like Starship Troopers (1959) and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966).

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