Striving for freedom Notably, Miéville’s October isn’t his first take on this question of revolutionary potential. Here’s an excerpt from the third book in his fictional Bas Lag universe, Iron Council, where a cast of disparately motivated characters collectively fights for change.
— Mate with the spiders, the old man says. — It’s time to change.
Everything is still. Only the bridge is being built, and now in the evenings when the bridge crews come off their work, some cross the ravine to their sister encampment, because they want to see the trouble. They come — hotchi in spines, apes trained and constrained by Remaking, Remade men given simian bodies. They come to see the strikes. They tour from one to another. The newspapermen on the perpetual train, who have been despatching their stories when there are messengers, suddenly have something new to cover. One takes a heliotype of the picket of women.
— I don’t know what I’ll say, he says to Judah. — They don’t want me talking about tarts in the The Quarrel.
— Take all the plates you can, says Judah. — This is something you should remember. This is important, he says, and it is his oddity, his beatific innard that speaks. His breath leaves him a moment at the thought that he can hear its words.
— We are all spiders’ children, says the mad old man.
“This is something you should remember” draws attention. The diverse group described in the passage (an alliance of sorts started by women just as was the 1905 movement in Russia) goes on to commandeer the capitalist, exploitative train and lay their own tracks across a wild landscape. If one reads October and Iron Council in close proximity, one will have difficulty not seeing the debates, quarrels, and outright in-fighting of and between the Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, Social Revolutionaries, and their interstices. The group picks up tracks behind them to lay the next. The perpetual train changes shape and form as it steams on. Finally, the collective revolutionaries returns to the city the tracks set off from, but the leader of the movement freezes the train in place before it can take its effect. On the edge of the city, the train stands instead as a lasting monument.
Read the full essay here: https://medium.com/@decision_/libertys-dim-light-book-review-of-china-mi%C3%A9ville-s-october-the-story-of-the-russian-revolution-12104f291294