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Review: The Tain

May 30th, 2012 by Michael McCaffrey Comments

I’ve always been a huge fan of vampires. We’ve got Dracula, Blade the entire Buffy and Angel series. Across the board there is a well-documented love for these twisted nocturnal creatures.

In the Tain China Miéville reinvents the demon with no reflection in a scarily original fashion. The reason they have no reflection is because they are the reflections, which is just brilliant. Simple, and with a little bit of pseudo-science to back it up, this concept is the basis of an amazingly vivid story that leads us through a twisted post apocalyptic world populated by a broken human race and an enemy we can’t comprehend, never mind best.

The creatures from within the mirrors are abstract creations; things that exist outside of our physics, something you’ll have to get used to if you plan on reading any more Miéville (which I recommend you do). He has a talent for creating the weird from the mundane, in this case terrifying creatures known as doves (comprised of two hands overlapped at the thumbs) stalking a destroyed London in flocks, picking apart survivors.

Sholl is a brilliant lead here too, his quiet calm in the face of both human and alien aggressors being one of Miévilles only nods towards the archetypes of standard Fantasy/Science-Fiction.

In all other things he steers clear of anything stereotypical, giving us a look at a bleak, beaten humanity, scraping by in a world that isn’t there’s anymore.

Miéville will always leave you wanting more, will always leave out details that other authors may have filled in, but that are ultimately surplus to requirements. This means you’ll be dying to know so much that he won’t tell. The man is infuriating, but brilliant.

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Jeff, whose real name is Michael. It’s a funny story, unfortunately it’s a funny story that isn’t actually that funny, and so we won’t bore you. Read a children’s encyclopaedia cover to cover as a child because nobody told him that wasn’t what you were supposed to do with those. Jeff is a Terminal Discworld addict, home brewer and semi successful scientist, and enjoys long moonlight walks through Skyrim. His main problem is though, that he will read anything, literally, anything literary. This has lead to the complete lack of shelf space remaining in his house.