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‘3 Moments Of An Explosion’ by China Miéville – 2012 BSFA Award Short Story Club

with 7 comments

‘3 Moments Of An Explosion’ was originally published on Rejectamentalist Manifesto.

China Miéville bestrides the genre stage like a colossal sentient oil rig. He’s been shortlisted for the BSFA Award for Best Novel four times (winning for The City & The City) and ‘Covehithe’ was on the Best Short Fiction shortlist last year. That’s in addition to his Hugo, World Fantasy Award, three Clarke Awards and seven Locus Awards. You often get the impression that he could publish his shopping list and it would be up for a major award. Which is pretty much what has happened here – Rejectamentalist Manifesto is Miéville’s blog. The items on his shopping list are:

  1. A semi-satire on consumerism burden with crap portmanteaus and handled better in the margins of ‘Limited Edition’.
  2. A wannabe gonzo interstitial story that only reachs goofy and literalises the technology/drug metaphor of ‘Immersion’ to no greater effect than the metaphor.
  3. A smoke beast urban horror as pointless as Lost and as under-nourished as ‘The Flight Of Ravens’

You can read it as a compressed novel but I’m more inclined read it in the same was as ‘The Song Of The Body Cartographer’: as a nothing. Still, it is better than ‘4 Final Orpheuses’. But then again, ‘better’ is a useless concept when it comes to these blog posts. Putting this story on an award shortlist seems rather like compiling M John Harrison’s blog posts into a How To Be A Writer book.

Written by Martin

27 March 2013 at 10:18

7 Responses

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  1. Yeah… I really have no idea what it was he was trying to achieve with this. It is basically a series of over-written MJH blog posts.

    1. The Emperor.
    2. Has.
    3. No Clothes.

  2. The shopping list would have been better actually.


    27 March 2013 at 12:16

  3. “Putting this story on an award shortlist seems rather like compiling M John Harrison’s blog posts into a How To Be A Writer book.”

    Which, when you come to think about it, isn’t such a bad idea. Similarly, though one could reasonably argue that ‘3 moments of an explosion’ is more of a prose poem or a compressed novel – I like that – than a short story (and its position on the shortlist could reasonably be called into question as a result), it is also a fine and striking piece of writing, densely written rather than overwritten, I feel, and therefore to dismiss it as ‘a nothing’ would I think be way too harsh. I like ‘4 final Orpheuses’ very much, too, though, so perhaps it’s just me…

    nina allan

    27 March 2013 at 18:11

  4. I enjoyed this when it first went up. It put me in mind of Edwin Morgan’s Instamatic Poems. It’s certainly in a different class from much of the flash fiction people are sticking on their blogs. But it is flash fiction so it’s a little odd seeing it on this shortlist alongside the Ian Sales piece for instance. I imagine that’s a function of (a) very popular writer, (b) freely available to read on the internet and (c) incredibly short so lots of people will have had the time to read it.

  5. It is certainly striking and, as David says, a different class from most flash fiction people are sticking on their blogs. But I was reminded of RCA Secret: famous artists knocking off disposable pieces that are worth browsing but would never be exhibited.


    27 March 2013 at 19:35

  6. Martin, I’m afraid this isn’t right.

    China wrote “3 moments of an explosion” to read at the SF and Social Change event at the Free Word Centre (there’s a recording of it and everything – http://www.freewordonline.com/content/2012/09/three-moments-of-an-explosion/).

    Because people asked him to share it more widely, he put it up on his blog after the event.

    It is fair for people to not like the story, but to accuse it of being a slapdash blog post and/or a “shopping list” is just factually inaccurate.


    30 March 2013 at 15:40

  7. Calling it a shopping list is certainly factually inaccurate but then it obviously wasn’t intended to be factually accurate. I don’t call it slapdash (though I think it is) but I’m not sure how the fact it was written for the Free Word Centre event rather than for the blog in the first instance changes anything? It is clearly of a piece with his other blog writing.


    30 March 2013 at 18:02

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