Three Moments of an Explosion (Review)

Three Moments of an Explosion (Review)

‘ve raved about China Mieville in the past. On my reviews, I’ve noted my enjoyment of Embassytown and The City & The City. The guy writes some weird and beautiful shit.

But I guess I’m getting older or he’s getting more extreme or whatever. Three Moments of an Explosion is his latest effort, a collection of workshop writings and experimental stuff. And while some of it is wonderfully beautiful and frightening and though provoking, others just left me on the station platform scratching my head. I simply didn’t get their points.

Some of the notables –

Polynia – for no reason we can figure, icebergs form in the skies over London, just hanging (and moving about slowly), a strange thing indeed. Told from the POV of a young school child, we see how it would play out, of the military landing teams on them, of doomed researchers and pranksters and the like. I loved this one, simply for the originality. Pure Mieville.

Watching God reminded me of The Scar, of ships that come and go yet stand offshore from an isolated village? Why? What are they doing? What purpose do they serve? While we don’t get a lot of answers, we do get a lot of interesting scene setting and a starling murder. Yeah, liked that one.

Sacken had our author playing Steven King, writing a completely nail-biting tale of spooky happenings around a German lake. I think this one tensed me more than anything I’ve read in a while. Just creepy and perverse and plain old nasty. Loved every word of it.

Dreaded Outcome was a funny little story about how far psychotherapists can go in the 15 minutes away future. When they are working for their patent’s best outcomes, they really really are. No matter who gets hurt.

The Bastard Prompt fit into the confusing yet fascinating grouping – a young actress involved in the field of simulated patients, no shit, it actually exists. These are people who are trained to provide new doctors “fake” patients to diagnose. So what happens when she (and then others) begin to state symptoms that are, frankly, impossible. Things that couldn’t manifest. And then… they do.

And lastly, The Design. Yow. We’re talking medical students again, this time in Glasgow in 1930. So what happens when a young student, working down in the morgue, discovers scrimshaw carved into the bones of a recently expired fellow. Yes, he cuts away the meat and there they are, carved in place. Can we assume that he doesn’t alert the authorities? And can we also assume that he sneaks the body off and investigates further? Ugh. But great.

Having said all this, there were a number that I simply didn’t understand. Yeah, they are short stories so you haven’t put in much more than an hour of time, but it was frustrating to come to the end and say “?”. But that’s reading – if you are going to stray off the Potter Path, you’re going to find rough going and heavy lifting. Bring a machete.

Overall, I liked it. I’d give this a tentative thumbs up to my more advanced readers. You might like it. Check it out.