Jul 27

The socialism in "Reports of Certain Events in London"


Miéville must have been 25 or 26 when he wrote Perdido Street Station. Likely a similar age when he wrote this short story. This is flippant disregard for Miéville's character, but, we were all young once, Miéville's claim that his mail is being inspected because he's a socialist is simply just him being an edgey teen. The classic, "I'm a "radical" socialist and I'm so special and important and everyone is after me." Heck, even Marx is guilty of this, everyone has a bit of the victim complex when it comes to their politics, ideologies that believe themselves to be outside the norm more so. Perdido Street Station is likely the most disgusting book I've ever read, and it oozed with edgy teenism as well. The Scar to a slightly lesser extent. I assume as he matured he's settled down, which happens to most people. Anyhow, I'm a big fan of Miéville, thanks for doing this story, I've had this collection for years and you finally made me crack it open.

You dudes have such a measured, honest, and wise way of discussing everything. Even when you say something I passionately disagree with, you make me stop and reevaluate things. Or maybe I'm just beginning to not be an edgy teen myself.

I also really did not like Perdido Street station. I listened to a small portion of it on an audiobook but was put off really by the so-called "edginess" and grotesque nature of the world and characters in it. It reminded me like an angsty version of a Bosch painting.


I don't think it's too far outside of the realm of possibility to think that the government does track people it views as dissidents. Prior to the internet, the best way to do this was via the mail. I totally did not read that bit about being a radical socialist in London as being a bit of leftover teenage angst, but I can see how, coming off of Perdido St Station, or looking at the timeline of Mieville's publications, this notion can be imported into the story.


I haven't read too much more Mieville and I've heard great stuff about his recent work. I'm not sure when I'll get a chance to get back to him as I'm working my way through some of Peter Straub's work, which is really great stuff so far.

Socialists do have a victim complex. The whole ideology is more or less a victim complex. I haven't read anything outside the Bas Lag books, I can't tell you how gross they are.

I do have the sense (entirely from other fiction) that UK intelligence services have a much broader legal mandate to read mail, so while this would certainly be a paranoid delusion in the U.S., this may ring truer to a British audience. But I may also just watch too many British police shows that are wholly unrealistic. Hopefully one of our British listeners can let us know.


I was really inspired by this story to read The City and the City, which has a much more sophisticated approach to political ideologies, which is one of the major themes of the book. It sounds like you've probably already read it, but if you haven't I can highly recommend it.


And if you've read further in this short-story collection, let us know what some of your favorites are. They may show up on a ballot sometime.



Jul 30

I'm not aware of the UK government/intelligence service having any mandate to read mail and read this as purely paranoid delusion. That may be political naivety on my part though: I don't get the sort of mail the government would be interested in reading - most of it is from them in various guises anyway. Indeed, for me the idea of a known socialist's mail getting read seems more like the sort of thing that would happen in the US than over here!

@Karanthir The CIA is just as lazy as any of us. Social media is the only thing they pay attention to, and even then it's just a bot.

In the U.S. the FBI has a long history of both wiretapping and reading the mail of people they classify as dissidents. So any socialist would rightly expect the government to spy on them as a matter of course. That is the reason intelligence services try and recruit spys young, to conceal the persons ideology before it is well known.

New Posts
  • Just finished reading this story of Poe, and I haven't gone through the podcast yet, but I really liked this detective story by Poe, the story starts weirdly enough where we are given kind of info dump by Poe, regarding people who are analysts and people who are genius. From my understanding what he wanted to say was people who read other people can be termed as genius, because analysts operate within a given set of rules, like chess players who follow a stringent set of rules to win. From this we are quickly introduced to our watsonesque narrator who meets an eccentric man in Paris, called as Dupin, and they quickly hit it off, as they share the same interests. But Dupin is not your normal person, who can see through people as if he watching someone through a window, and the way he arrives at conclusions seemed so much like Sherlock Holmes to me. Then we have mysterious murders happening in Rue Morgue, and police find themselves at wit's end finding exactly what can be motive for murders, also the witnesses can't seem to identify the second voice in the room which seems harsh, and unidentifiable. The way Dupin arrives at conclusion is fantastic, and reminds the methods Sherlock Holmes methods. I don't know who inspired whom but Dupin & Sherlock have lot of characteristics in common, they are interested only in solving the mystery, and finding out the truth, although Sherlock sometimes does show some humane characteristics. Also Dupin is clearly french while Sherlock also seems to have some French connection, but are interested in music, although Dupin seems to be more inclined towards theater and books.
  • What an odd story! As with a few before it, I didn't enjoy this one much when reading it, but the discussion in the episode really helped put a better perspective on it. In particular I really liked the framing of it as a plague story with the spectre of cholera hanging over everything (for some reason it hadn't occurred to me that the omen of death was an omen of them getting cholera), and the idea of it as a reaction to the science of the Enlightenment. Thanks also for making the weird political digression make sense! It completely boggled my mind what it had to do with anything else in the story. I'm still not completely convinced, but I guess it worked for Poe. Overall I thought this story had a lot of great set-up; the evocative description of the cholera epidemic and the tantalizing hints of the tomes in the library would make an excellent introduction to a different weird story. As it stands, though, the description of the beast and the revelation about it didn't do anything for me. Maybe that's a problem of perspective as a modern reader, which at least would fit with the theme of the story in a roundabout sort of way.
  • Great podcast. About the political situation in the 1840’s there was in 1848 an outbreak almost simultaneously of revolutionwry reform of governments all over the place. The old monarchies were changed to the forms that held until World War One. A history podcast I listen to covers this year in a whole series. It is called “Revolutions” it is done by Mike Duncan. Each series he covers a different revolution and in series 7 he covers 1848. It is about 20 some episodes each from 30 to 50 mins long about this year. I’m not this far in his podcast yet, I’m on series 5 currently, but each episode is extremely well made and informative while being entertaining. I’m sure Poe was current with the political tempest that was brewing at the time he wrote this story. It makes me even more interested to get to this series about the history.

Claytemple Media is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.