Monday, December 6, 2010

Ideas I Wish I'd Had First

Recent travel and conference attendance has impaired my post writing and general blogosphere presence, but has given me time to read other stuff while in hotel rooms and airplanes. In finally getting around to reading China Mieville’s latest fantasy novel Kraken, I’ve found it has several cool ideas to steal for gaming.

Kraken is set in modern London and concerns a curators descent into the city’s occult underbelly after the theft of a specimen of giant squid. It’s a Tim Power-ish set up and story (in a way, so was Mieville’s last modern novel, The City and the City), I think, but written in Mieville’s distinct prose style.

Anyway, there are several good ideas in here that I wish I had thought of first. There is a general strike amongst magical familiars, being lead by the spirit of an ancient Egyptian shabti, who took part in an uprising against the dead they were meant to toil for in the after-life. There's the menacing duo (there are a lot of menacing duos in fiction, aren’t there?) Goss and Subby, who get into a magically protected house by having themselves folded up and mailed in a box.

Best so far, though, is Mieville’s description of the “memory angels” which guard various London museums:

“In the Museum of Childhood were three toys that came remorselessly for intruders--a hoop, a top, a broken video-game console--with stuttering creeping as if in stop-motion. With the wingbeat noise of cloth, the Victoria and Albert was patrolled by something like a chic predatory face of crumpled linen. In Tooting Bec, the London Sewing Machine Museum was kept safe by a dreadful angel made of tangles and bobbins and jouncing needles...”
If there's anything the City needs its genius loci like that!


Daddy Grognard said...

I'll have to see if I can bully my local library into getting these.

Unknown said...

I think my all-time favourite sinister duo is Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar from Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.

This one goes on my reading-list, btw.

Daddy Grognard said...

Unknown said...

Awesome. I feel I should like Mieville but I just couldn't get into Perdido Street Station. I'll try this one to give him another chance because it sounds like it would be right up my alley.

Trey said...

@Harald - That's definitely a good one. There's also the duo in the James Bond film which may have started the trend.

@Daddy Grognard - and there's the link! Thanks.

@Risus - I think you should give others a try. DaddyG might have other thoughts, but I think The Scar is the best of his New Crubozon novels, but The City and the City may be my favorite over all.

Tom Fitzgerald said...

"I’ve found it has several cool ideas to steal for gaming"

Yes, that's Mieville for you.

Trey said...

True. :) Though I like his work for more than just that!