Neither a Contract Nor a Promise: Five Movements To Watch Out For (Guest Blogger China Mieville)

       (The City & The City, an Amazon featured book for June.)

It's been a while since we've had some red-hot literary-movement action. Part of the problem is that the declaration of such movements, schools, salons, moments, manifestoes, sets, etc, tends to be a post-facto thing. Someone--a participant or otherwise--notices a bunch of writers and artists doing some stuff through which the observer considers there to be some shared thread(s). Give it a name, and boom: performative taxonomy complete.

So, missing the tendentious genealogies, the reclamations of forgotten texts and bigging-up of some new, pining for a smidge of controversy, I thought we could save a bit of time by naming a few movements in advance, then writing books to fit. That way we could start arguing about them without having to wait through those tiresome publication schedules.

Accordingly, what follows are a few modest proposals for literary/artistic movements to fulfil the moment's cultural needs, and a few bon mots to start the arguments.

i) Zombiefail '09-ism

Named partly in honour (not mockery) of an important debate about race and politics that set fire to livejournal earlier this year, this will be the movement for those tired of the unrelenting imperialism of zombies in horror--and now other--fiction. The writers' position will be that what started as an invigoration (one hesitates to say 'revivification', in this context) of an antique trope has viralled to the point where its ubiquity makes it ambulonecrotophile kitsch. Zombies that once stalked the cultural unconscious like baleful rebukes are now cuddly toys, dead metaphors (ba-boom) at which we can't stay mad. Paradoxically, out of very respect for increasingly degraded zombies, Zombiefail '09-ist writers will either explicitly undermine their banalisation by melancholy mockery of them, or refuse to write about them at all, instead plundering various mythoi for more neglected monsters with which to end the world.

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