Three Moments Of An Explosion by China Mieville book review

China Mieville’s short story collection is an excellent addition to his output

Three moments of an Explosion by China Mieville

For fans of China Miéville, it has felt like an awfully long three years since his last novel, the ingenious young adult Moby Dick riff Railsea. This collection of short stories will go a long way to making that wait seem like a distant memory.

With his Bas-Lag series (beginning with Perdido Street Station) and fiercely creative standalone novels like Kraken, Miéville has proven himself to be one of our most breathtakingly imaginative novelists, and Three Moments Of An Explosion is a stunning reminder of just how good he can be.

This impressive collection is a mix of genres, encompassing science fiction, fantasy and horror, but there’s a consistent sense of humanity and social conscience throughout. Icebergs suddenly appear above London’s skylines, scudding along, crashing into each other and sending debris to the ground, and towers sent soaring into space are gradually left to become (nearly) abandoned derelicts.

A mournful servant apologises to the captured statue of an enemy tribe’s god, a therapist goes to shocking lengths to preserve her patients’ happiness, and enormous junked oil rigs clamber from the sea, animated and hungry.

It’s sometimes easy to forget just how capable Miéville is at creating a terrifying air of dread, but there are some deeply unsettling tales here that will bring that realisation back.
In ‘The Dowager Of Bees’, a professional gambler learns of the truth of the cards the rest of us never see, and how much they can make you lose.

In ‘After The Festival’, a bizarre new ritual proves to have gruesome consequences for the head of a parade, but it’s ghost story ‘The Rabbet’ that proves to be the most truly terrifying, with the end result leaving this reviewer with a distinct chill.

There are far too many excellent stories to go into in detail here, but it’s a carefully curated, wonderfully witty and decidedly powerful selection of tales that we urge you to read as soon as possible.