I can’t believe I haven’t written about this earlier. I tweeted about it, or maybe I posted about it on Facebook. I can’t remember. That’s not the point. The point is, a few weeks ago I totally met China Miéville.
For those of you who haven’t paid any attention to me for the last six months or so, I’m writing a play called The City & The City. We’re just over a week into rehearsals, and start performances in the middle of February. The play is an adaptation of China Miéville’s book of the same name. The story follows the tropes of a classic crime novel through a setting that is anything but ordinary. I’d explain more but even a description of the setting is kind of a spoiler. The first time I read the book, I made a series of assumptions about the setting based on the first couple of chapters. By the end of the book I was gobsmacked by just how wrong I was. At first I thought, Ah there is this interesting magical thing happening here. But it turns out it’s much stranger than that.
Mr. Miéville himself was in town a few weeks ago and did a little reading/Q&A at Roosevelt University. An administrator there had gotten wind of our production and tipped us to the event. I and a handful of our crew and cast attended. For about the first half hour he read from a new story he was working on, then took questions from the audience for the rest of the hour. I would tell you what he said, but I haven’t finished looking up all the ginormous words he used. One that stood out was “heuristic.” I have only heard that word used in one other place: It’s what the “H” stands for in HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. I have a vague understanding of the word, but I’m not going to embarrass myself by attempting to define it here. (I could look it up. I probably will at some point. But it’s 12:30 in the morning and I’m tired.)
After the Q&A the audience politely held back while Mr. Miéville collected his notes before trying to wedge in some one-on-one time. That is, everybody held back but me. Seeing my chance, I ran forward and introduced myself. As soon as I got out the name “Lifeline Theatre,” he grabbed my hand and said, “My collaborators!” He asked about how the show was going, which was only slightly awkward for me due to the fact that rehearsals hadn’t actually started yet. But I told him we had a great cast in place, and I thought the script was in good shape for the start of rehearsals, and that we’d have a lot of revisions by the time we opened at the end of February.
The most exciting news? Schedules permitting, Mr. Miéville is coming to see the show. Or at least he’s going to try to come. I don’t want to make promises for him. But he seemed pretty excited about it. I can assure you he was not nearly as excited as me, though.