no longer a line split through time

I’m going to have to rave about how good China Miéville is. Not only is he fantastically good looking in a dirty rough-trade kind of way, but (and I always go for a good mind) his writing is vital, alien and each of his outstanding books is a minutely detailed universe. He’s a genius

So having ploughed through Perdidio Street Station in an obscenely short time, I’m now working through Iron Council on a similarly tight deadline. And I’ve got The Scar ready for high-altitude enjoyment from about 11pm next Friday.

I’ll make more comparisons with Iain M. Banks, not simply because of the visceral closeness to the main characters or the wildly inventive milieu which they inhabit. There’s a joy that infuses both writers no matter how depraved and obscene the events which scar the characters, there is a reaching for the possible, something always beyond. It’s what Deleuze and Guattari would write if they wrote science-fiction.

As the rails come clear, ground clean by the weight of the train, the men and women take them up again. They are pulled by mules past the storage and workshop cars where hundreds more are stacked, past the railroad and the train itself, to the front, into the glare of the engine’s lamp eyes. And there they are unloaded. And the track-layers lay them down again.

Miles of track, reused, reused, it is the train’s future and its present, and it emerges a fraction more scarred as history and is hauled up again and becomes another future. The train carries its track with it, picking it up and laying it down: a sliver, a moment of railroad. No longer a line split through time, but contingent and fleeting, recurring beneath the train, leaving only its footprints.

— China Miéville – Iron Council