China Miéville

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China Miéville
Miéville at Utopiales (2010)
Miéville at Utopiales (2010)
BornChina Tom Miéville
(1972-09-06) 6 September 1972 (age 50)
Norwich, United Kingdom
OccupationShort-story writer, novelist, essayist and comic book author
GenreUrban fantasy
Weird fiction
Literary movementNew Weird
Notable worksPerdido Street Station (2000)
The City & the City (2009)
October: The Story of the Russian Revolution (2017)

China Tom Miéville FRSL (/miˈvəl/ mee-AY-vəl; born 6 September 1972) is a British speculative fiction writer and literary critic. He often describes his work as weird fiction and is allied to the loosely associated movement of writers called New Weird.

Miéville has won numerous awards for his fiction, including the Arthur C. Clarke Award, British Fantasy Award, BSFA Award, Hugo Award, Locus Award and World Fantasy Awards. He holds the record for the most Arthur C Clarke Award wins (three). His novel Perdido Street Station was ranked by Locus as the 6th all-time best fantasy novel published in the 20th century. During 2012–13, he was writer-in-residence at Roosevelt University in Chicago. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2015.[1]

Miéville is active in anti-capitalist politics in the United Kingdom and has previously been a member of the International Socialist Organization (US) and the short-lived International Socialist Network (UK). He was formerly a member of the Socialist Workers Party, and in 2013 became a founding member of Left Unity.[2] He stood for Regent's Park and Kensington North for the Socialist Alliance in the 2001 United Kingdom general election, gaining 1.2% of votes cast. He published his PhD thesis on Marxism and international law as a book in 2005.

Early life and education[edit]

Miéville was born in Norwich and brought up in Willesden, and has lived in London since early childhood. He grew up with his sister Jemima and mother Claudia. His mother was a translator, writer and teacher, and the daughter of Leo Claude Vaux Miéville, whose wife Youla (née Harrison) was granddaughter of Edward Littleton, 4th Baron Hatherton.[3][4] His parents chose his first name, China, from a dictionary, looking for a beautiful name.[5] By virtue of his mother's birth in New York City, Miéville holds dual American and British citizenship. In 1982 his mother married Paul Lightfoot, who also has aristocratic connections; they divorced in 1992.[3][6][7]

Miéville boarded at Oakham School, a co-educational independent school in Oakham, Rutland, for two years. He subsequently attended University College School . At the age of eighteen, in 1990, he taught English for a year in Egypt, where he developed an interest in Arab culture and in Middle Eastern politics. Miéville studied for a BA degree in social anthropology at Clare College, Cambridge, graduating in 1994, and gained both a master's degree and PhD in international law from the London School of Economics in 2001. Miéville has also held a Frank Knox fellowship at Harvard University.[5] After becoming dissatisfied with the ability of post-modern theories to explain history and political events, he became a Marxist at university.[5] A book version of his PhD thesis, entitled Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law, was published in the UK in 2005 by Brill in their "Historical Materialism" series, and in the United States in 2006 by Haymarket Books.

Literary influences[edit]

Miéville's works all describe fantastical or supernatural worlds or scenarios.[8][9] Miéville has said he plans to write a novel in every genre.[10] To this end, he has "constructed an oeuvre" that ranges from classic American Western (in Iron Council) to sea-quest (in The Scar and Railsea) to detective noir (in The City & the City).[11] His work has been described as new weird fiction.[12]

Miéville has listed M. John Harrison, Michael de Larrabeiti, Michael Moorcock, Thomas M. Disch, Charles Williams, Tim Powers, and J. G. Ballard as literary "heroes"; he has also frequently discussed as influences H. P. Lovecraft, Mervyn Peake, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Gene Wolfe. He has said that he would like his novels "to be read for [his imagined city] New Crobuzon as Iain Sinclair does for London". Miéville has admitted that his books contain some allusions to Russian writers, including Andrei Platonov, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Evgeny Voiskunsky [ru] and Isai Lukodyanov [ru].[13]

Miéville played a great deal of Dungeons & Dragons and similar roleplaying games (RPGs) in his youth. He has attributed his tendency to systematisation of magic and theology to this influence.[5] In his novel Perdido Street Station, he refers to characters interested "only in gold and experience". The February 2007 issue of Dragon magazine interpreted the world presented in his books according to Dungeons & Dragons rules. The Player's Handbook for the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons cited his novel Perdido Street Station as a source of inspiration for the game's designers.[14]

In 2010, Miéville made his first foray into writing for RPGs with a contribution to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game supplement Guide to the River Kingdoms.[15]

Miéville once described Tolkien as "the wen on the arse of fantasy literature".[16] Miéville is also indebted to Moorcock, having cited his essay "Epic Pooh" as the source upon which he is "riffing" or even simply "cheerleading" in his critique of Tolkien-imitative fantasy.[citation needed] Despite his criticisms, Miéville has praised Tolkien for his contributions to fantasy, especially in a 2009 blog post where he gave five reasons why Tolkien was praiseworthy.[17]

He has cited Michael de Larrabeiti's Borrible Trilogy as one of his biggest influences, and he wrote an introduction for the trilogy's 2002 reissue (the introduction was eventually left out of the book, but appears on de Larrabeiti's website).[18]


Miéville has previously been a member of the International Socialist Organization (US) and, until 13 March 2013, was also a member of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP, UK).[19] He stood unsuccessfully for the House of Commons of the United Kingdom in the 2001 general election as a candidate for the Socialist Alliance, gaining 459 votes, i.e. 1.2%,[20] in Regent's Park and Kensington North, a Labour constituency.[21]

In January 2013, he emerged as a critic of the SWP's leadership and in March resigned[19] over the leadership's handling of rape allegations against an SWP member.[22][23]

In August 2013, Miéville was one of nine signatories (along with veteran film-maker and socialist Ken Loach, academic Gilbert Achcar, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament Kate Hudson, fellow novelist Michael Rosen, and actor Roger Lloyd Pack) of an open letter to the Guardian newspaper announcing the foundation of a "new party of the left", to be called Left Unity. The letter, which claimed that Labour policies on austerity and the breaking of ties with trades unions amounted to a "final betrayal of the working-class people it was founded to represent", stated that Left Unity would be launched at a "founding conference" in London on 30 November 2013 and would provide, as an "alternative" to Labour, "a party that is socialist, environmentalist, feminist and opposed to all forms of discrimination".[2]

In 2014 – together with Richard Seymour, Rosie Warren, Jamie Allinson, Margaret Corvid, and others – Miéville quit the International Socialist Network, a Left Unity faction, over a dispute concerning the acceptability of sexual "race play"[24][25] that was prompted by discussion of a controversial art piece owned by Dasha Zhukova.[26]

In 2015, he was announced as one of the founding editors of a "bi-annual journal of revolutionary arts and letters", Salvage, with editor-in-chief Rosie Warren, editor Jamie Allinson, and contributing editors Richard Seymour, Margaret Corvid (as Magpie Corvid), and Charlotte Bence.[27] He has been the director of Salvage Publications since 2014.[28]

October, published in 2017, documents the dramatic events of the Russian revolution. Jonathan Steele reviewed it for The Guardian. Steele considers it an ideological though nuanced retelling: "Known as a left-wing activist, [...] Miéville writes with the brio and excitement of an enthusiast who would have wanted the revolution to succeed. But he is primarily interested in the dramatic narrative – the weird facts – of the most turbulent year in Russia's history".[29]

Personal life[edit]

In the early 2000s, Miéville lived in London with his partner Emma Bircham.[30] They were both cast as extras in the 1999 film Notting Hill,[31] which he humorously described as a dystopian alternate history of an ethnically cleansed city.[32]

In 2013, Miéville denied allegations of emotional abuse made by an ex-girlfriend. He acknowledged having had a brief affair with the woman, but stated that her account of it was untrue. According to Miéville, he was in a non-monogamous relationship at the time, a fact of which she was aware.[33]

Since 2018, he has taken steps to defend his privacy, following what he describes as a campaign of harassment and online defamation.[34]


A comprehensive list of Miéville's work is available at the ISFDB.


Bas-Lag series[edit]

Stand-alone novels[edit]

  • King Rat (1998) ISBN 978-0312890735
  • Un Lun Dun (2007) ISBN 978-0230015869
  • The City & the City (2009) ISBN 978-1405000178
  • Kraken (2010) ISBN 978-0333989500
  • Embassytown (2011) ISBN 978-0230750760
  • Railsea (2012) ISBN 978-0230765108


Short story collections[edit]

Children's picture books[edit]

  • The Worst Breakfast (2016), co-written and illustrated by Zak Smith

Comic books[edit]

  • Hellblazer (1988 series) – #250 "Holiday Special": "Snow Had Fallen" (feb. 2009)
  • Justice League (2011 series) – #23.3 "Dial E #1: Dial Q for Qued" (nov. 2013)
  • Dial H (2012–2013 series) – #1-#15


In an anthology[edit]

  • "Watching God" (first publ. in Three Moments of an Explosion, 2015), in Out of the Ruins, edited by Preston Grassmann, Titan Books, 2021 ISBN 978-1789097399



  • Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law (2005). Leiden: Brill. ISBN 1-931859-33-7
  • Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction (2009), with Mark Bould. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press.
  • October: The Story of the Russian Revolution (2017). Verso.
  • A Spectre, Haunting: On the Communist Manifesto (2022). Head of Zeus. ISBN 1786692031




Miéville just after winning the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2010

Miéville has won numerous accolades in speculative fiction; he holds the record for the most Arthur C Clarke Award wins (three).[42] Perdido Street Station was featured in Locus's poll of all-time best 20th century fantasy novels, where it ranked 6th place.[43]

Book / Award Arthur C
Hugo Locus Nebula World
Perdido Street Station Won Won Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom [44][45]
The Scar Nom Won Nom Nom Won Nom [46][47]
Iron Council Won Nom Won Nom [48][49]
Un Lun Dun Won [48]
The City & the City Won Won Won Won Nom Won [50][51][52]
Kraken Won [48]
Embassytown Nom Nom Nom Won Nom [48][53]
Railsea Nom Won [48]


  1. ^ "Royal Society of Literature » Current RSL Fellows". Archived from the original on 6 February 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Letters: 'Left Unity ready to offer an alternative'". The Guardian. 12 August 2013.
  3. ^ a b Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage, ed. Patrick Montague-Smith, Debrett's Peerage Ltd, 1995, p. 1264
  4. ^ Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, 107th edition, vol. 2, Burke's Peerage Ltd, 2003, p. 1823
  5. ^ a b c d Gordon, Joan (November 2003). "Reveling in Genre: An Interview with China Miéville". Science Fiction Studies. DePauw University. 30 (Part 3). Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  6. ^ Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, 107th edition, vol. 3, Burke's Peerage Ltd, 2003, p. 3983
  7. ^ Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law, China Miéville, Haymarket Books, 2006, p. v
  8. ^ Hanks, Robert (15 June 2009). "The City and the City by China Miéville: review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 17 October 2013. He has twice won the Arthur C Clarke award for science fiction, but sci-fi purists complain that his frequent breaches of the laws of nature – magic, in other words – place him in the 'fantasy' camp. [...] A more precise category might be 'urban surrealism': surveying his career so far, it looks as if his central concern is life in the modern city, though filtered through dreams and nightmares.
  9. ^ Le Guin, Ursula K (7 May 2011). "Embassytown by China Miéville – review". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 21 April 2020.
  10. ^ "A Truly Monstrous Thing to Do: Mieville Interview". Archived from the original on 12 October 2009.
  11. ^ Shurin, Jared (4 August 2015). "A Category Unto Himself: The Works of = China Miéville". Tor Books. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  12. ^ Moorcock, Michael (12 March 2017). "What is the "New Weird" – and what makes weird fiction so relevant to our times?". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 6 May 2017.
  13. ^ Maltsev, Mikhail (25 October 2017). "Nadeyus' Nikto Ne Sochtet Oktyabr' Nekrtichnoy Agiografiey" [I Hope Nobody Will Count That October Is an Uncritical Hagiography] (in Russian). Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  14. ^ "RPG Player's Handbook".
  15. ^ "Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to the River Kingdoms (PFRPG) Print Edition". Paizo Publishing.
  16. ^ "Scar by China Mieville". Retrieved 5 May 2011.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "Amazon Book Review". Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  18. ^ "'The Borribles': An Introduction by China Miéville" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 November 2006. Retrieved 14 July 2022.
  19. ^ a b "Resigning from the Socialist Workers Party", International Socialism, 11 March 2013
  20. ^ "BBC NEWS – VOTE 2001 – RESULTS & CONSTITUENCIES – Regent's Park & Kensington North". BBC News.
  21. ^ Ansible 168, July 2001.
  22. ^ Laurie Penny, "What does the SWP's way of dealing with sex assault allegations tell us about the left?", New Statesman, 11 January 2013
  23. ^ Paul Kellogg "Britain: Reflections on the crisis in the Socialist Workers Party", LINKS – International Journal of Socialist Renewal (blog), 13 January 2013.
  24. ^ Brown, David; Manning, Jonathon (17 May 2014). "No sex please comrades, we're British". The Times. Retrieved 1 January 2022.
  25. ^ Platt, Edward (20 May 2014). "Comrades at war: the decline and fall of the Socialist Workers Party". New Statesman. Retrieved 1 January 2022.
  26. ^ Walker, Shaun (21 January 2014). "Russian socialite sparks outrage with 'racist chair' photograph". the Guardian. Retrieved 1 January 2022.
  27. ^ Contributors Archived 13 March 2018 at the Wayback Machine, Salvage.
  28. ^ "China MIEVILLE personal appointments - GOV.UK". Find and update company information. 9 December 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2022.
  29. ^ "October by China Miéville review – a brilliant retelling of the Russian Revolution". The Guardian. 17 May 2017.
  30. ^ Grant, Gavin J. "China Mieville Interview". Retrieved 25 January 2022.
  31. ^ "Notting Hill". BFI Filmography. Retrieved 6 February 2022.
  32. ^ "Out of this World: China Miéville: what if?". 3 August 2011. Archived from the original on 3 August 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  33. ^ Fox, Rose (11 February 2013). "Unpleasant Allegations, and a Response". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on 3 March 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2022.
  34. ^ Miéville, China (17 May 2018). "A Note of Warning". rejectamentalist manifesto. Retrieved 24 January 2022.
  35. ^ Miéville, China (November–December 2011). "London's Overthrow". Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  36. ^ "Paramount Vantage Gets 'Details'", IndieWire Archived 28 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  37. ^ "The City & the City at Lifeline Theatre | Theater review". Time Out Chicago. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  38. ^ BWW News Desk. "Lifeline Theatre Continues its 30th Season With THE CITY & THE CITY". Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  39. ^ "The City & The City". MARIAM GHANI. 4 May 2015. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  40. ^ "Estate - based on the story by China Miéville". Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  41. ^ "Estate review: Urban folklore". SciFiNow. 11 September 2020. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  42. ^ "Arthur C Clarke Award Tallies". Science Fiction Awards Database. Locus Science Fiction Foundation. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  43. ^ "Locus Online, 20th Century Fantasy Novel". Science Fiction Awards Database. Locus Science Fiction Foundation. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  44. ^ "Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award: 2001 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 28 March 2009.
  45. ^ "Awards won by Perdido Street Station". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 28 March 2009.
  46. ^ "Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award: 2003 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 3 May 2009.
  47. ^ "Awards won by Scar". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 3 May 2009.
  48. ^ a b c d e "China Miéville Awards". Science Fiction Awards Database. Locus Science Fiction Foundation. Archived from the original on 13 January 2021.
  49. ^ "Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award: 2005 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 28 March 2009.
  50. ^ Flood, Alison (6 September 2010). "China Miéville and Paolo Bacigalupi tie for Hugo award". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  51. ^ "2010 Hugo Awards Winners". Locus. 5 September 2010. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  52. ^ "World Fantasy Awards Winners". Locus. 31 October 2010. Archived from the original on 23 May 2012. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  53. ^ "2012 Hugo Awards". Hugo Awards. Archived from the original on 9 April 2012. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
  54. ^ "Current Fellow". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Further reading[edit]

Books on China Miéville[edit]

Scholarly articles[edit]

External links[edit]