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Kraken (Englisch) Taschenbuch – Ungekürzte Ausgabe, 1. September 2006

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Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

China Mieville lives and works in London. He is three-time winner of the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award (Perdido Street Station, Iron Council and The City & The City) and has also won the British Fantasy Award twice (Perdido Street Station and The Scar). The City & The City, an existential thriller, was published in 2009 to dazzling critical acclaim and drew comparison with the works of Kafka and Orwell (The Times) and Philip K. Dick (Guardian). His most recent novel, Kraken, was published in 2010.

Leseprobe. Abdruck erfolgt mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Rechteinhaber. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

Chapter One

An everyday doomsayer in sandwich-board abruptly walked away from what over the last several days had been his pitch, by the gates of a museum. The sign on his front was an old-school prophecy of the end: the one bobbing on his back read forget it.

Inside, a man walked through the big hall, past a double stair and a giant skeleton, his steps loud on the marble. Stone animals watched him. "Right then," he kept saying.

His name was Billy Harrow. He glanced at the great fabricated bones and nodded. It looked as if he was saying hello. It was a little after eleven on a morning in October. The room was filling up. A group waited for him by the entrance desk, eyeing each other with polite shyness.

There were two men in their twenties with geek-chic haircuts. A woman and man barely out of teens teased each other. She was obviously indulging him with this visit. There was an older couple, and a father in his thirties holding his young son. "Look, that's a monkey," he said. He pointed at animals carved in vines on the museum pillars. "And you see that lizard?"

The boy peeped. He looked at the bone apatosaurus that Billy had seemed to greet. Or maybe, Billy thought, he was looking at the glyptodon beyond it. All the children had a favourite inhabitant of the Natural History Museum's first hall, and the glyptodon, that half-globe armadillo giant, had been Billy's.

Billy smiled at the woman who dispensed tickets, and the guard behind her. "This them?" he said. "Right then, everyone. Shall we do this thing?"

He cleaned his glasses and blinked while he was doing it, replicating a look and motion an ex had once told him was adorable. He was a little shy of thirty and looked younger: he had freckles, and not enough stubble to justify "Bill." As he got older, Billy suspected, he would, DiCaprio-like, simply become like an increasingly wizened child.

Billy's black hair was tousled in halfheartedly fashionable style. He wore a not-too-hopeless top, cheap jeans. When he had first started at the centre, he had liked to think that he was unexpectedly cool-looking for such a job. Now he knew that he surprised no one, that no one expected scientists to look like scientists anymore.

"So you're all here for the tour of the Darwin Centre," he said. He was acting as if he thought they were present to investigate a whole research site, to look at the laboratories and offices, the filing, the cabinets of paperwork. Rather than to see one and only the one thing within the building.

"I'm Billy," he said. "I'm a curator. What that means is I do a lot of the cataloguing and preserving, stuff like that. I've been here awhile. When I first came here I wanted to specialise in marine molluscs--know what a mollusc is?" he asked the boy, who nodded and hid. "Snails, that's right." Mollusca had been the subject of his master's thesis.

"Alright, folks." He put his glasses on. "Follow me. This is a working environment, so please keep the noise down, and I beg you not to touch anything. We've got caustics, toxins, all manner of horrible stuff all over the place."

One of the young men started to say, "When do we see--?" Billy raised his hand.

"Can I just . . . ?" he said. "Let me explain about what'll happen when we're in there." Billy had evolved his own pointless idio-superstitions, according to one of which it was bad luck for anyone to speak the name of what they were all there for, before they reached it.

"I'm going to show you a bunch of the places we work," he said lamely. "Any questions, you can ask me at the end: we're a little bit time constrained. Let's get the tour done first."

No curator or researcher was obliged to perform this guide-work. But many did. Billy no longer grumbled when it was his turn.

They went out and through the garden, approaching the Darwin with a building site on one side and the brick filigrees of the Natural History Museum on the other.

"No photos please," Billy said. He did not care if they obeyed: his obligation was to repeat the rule. "This building here opened in 2002," he said. "And you can see we're expanding. We'll have a new building in 2008. We've got seven floors of wet specimens in the Darwin Centre. That means stuff in Formalin."

Everyday hallways led to a stench. "Jesus," someone muttered.

"Indeed," said Billy. "This is called the dermestarium." Through interior windows there were steel containers like little coffins. "This is where we clean up skeletons. Get rid of all the gunk on them. Dermestes maculatus."

A computer screen by the boxes was showing some disgusting salty-looking fish being eaten by insect swarms. "Eeurgh," someone said.

"There's a camera in the box," said Billy. "Hide beetles is their English name. They go through everything, just leave bones behind."

The boy grinned and tugged his father's hand. The rest of the group smiled, embarrassed. Flesh-eating bugs: sometimes life really was a B-movie.

Billy noticed one of the young men. He wore a past-it suit, a shabby-genteel outfit odd for someone young. He wore a pin on his lapel, a design like a long-armed asterisk, two of the spokes ending in curls. The man was taking notes. He was filling the pad he carried at a great rate.

A taxonomiser by inclination as well as profession, Billy had decided there were not so many kinds of people who took this tour. There were children: mostly young boys, shy and beside themselves with excitement, and vastly knowledgeable about what they saw. There were their parents. There were sheepish people in their twenties, as geeky-eager as the kids. There were their girlfriends and boyfriends, performing patience. A few tourists on an unusual byway.

And there were the obsessives.

They were the only people who knew more than the young children. Sometimes they did not speak: sometimes they would interrupt Billy's explanations with too-loud questions, or correct him on scientific detail with exhausting fussy anxiety. He had noticed more of such visitors than usual in the last several weeks.

"It's like late summer brings out the weirdos," Billy had said to his friend Leon, a few nights back, as they drank at a Thames pub. "Someone came in all Starfleet badges today. Not on my shift, sadly."

"Fascist," Leon had said. "Why are you so prejudiced against nerds?"

"Please," Billy said. "That would be a bit self-hating, wouldn't it?"

"Yeah, but you pass. You're like, you're in deep cover," Leon said. "You can sneak out of the nerd ghetto and hide the badge and bring back food and clothes and word of the outside world."

"Mmm, tasteful."

"Alright," Billy said as colleagues passed him. "Kath," he said to an ichthyologist; "Brendan," to another curator, who answered him, "Alright Tubular?"

"Onward please," said Billy. "And don't worry, we're getting to the good stuff."

Tubular? Billy could see one or two of his escortees wondering if they had misheard.

The nickname resulted from a drinking session in Liverpool with colleagues, back in his first year at the centre. It was the annual conference of the professional curatorial society. After a day of talks on methodologies and histories of preservation, on museum schemes and the politics of display, the evening's wind-down had started with polite how-did-you-get-into-this?, turned into everyone at the bar one by one talking about their childhoods, these meanderings, in boozy turn, becoming a session of what someone had christened Biography Bluff. Everyone had to cite some supposedly extravagant fact about themselves--they once ate a slug, they'd been part of a foursome, they tried to burn their school down, and so on--the truth of which the others would then brayingly debate.

Billy had straight-faced claimed that he had been the result of the world's... -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

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Ich schätze China Mievilles Romane sehr, "Kraken" hat mich jedoch nicht völlig überzeugt. Bei dieser Geschichte um unzählige konkurrierende Sekten der absurdesten Art, mehrere parallele Weltuntergänge (ich bin wirklich bereit, Mieville auf vielen seiner phantastischen Exkurse zu folgen, aber man sollte mit solch starken Bildern sparsam umgehen, wenn sie nicht, wie bei Pratchett und Fforde, parodistisch eingesetzt werden) in einem Sub-London, das allerdings faszinierend beschrieben wird, hatte ich den Eindruck, dass Mieville zeitweise den Faden verloren hatte. Die Auflösung schien mir nach den ständigen, vorherigen "Enthüllungen", als regelrechter Antiklimax. Wenn man die Mechanismen solcher Thriller kennt, konnte man sich den Superbösewicht, der hinter allem steckte, übrigens schon ausrechnen.
Von den Protagonisten hat mich keiner so recht fasziniert, am ehesten noch Wati mit seinem gloriosen Arbeitskampf, Goss und Subby, scheußlich, wie sie waren, und Dane, dessen finale Transformation ich allerdings völlig sinnlos fand. Billy Harrow war laaangweilig, seine Entwicklung zum Helden nicht überzeugend. Richtig genervt hat mich Collingswood mit ihrer Arroganz und ihrer ständigen Flucherei - hallo, wir wissen mittlerweile, dass junge Frauen unglaublich tough sind, bitte mal wieder etwas differenziertere Darstellungen! Warum es nötig war, ihren Kollegen Baron am Ende zu demontieren, konnte ich nicht nachvollziehen, Collingswood alleine wäre ziemlich unerträglich.
Einige lose Enden haben mich auch geärgert: Was, bitte, wurde aus Coles Tochter?
Trotz dieser Einwände gebe ich für die, wie immer, grandiose Sprache und den überbordenden Einfallsreichtum (der in diesem Buch vielleicht für das teilweise Scheitern mit verantwortlich war), drei Punkte.
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Ich habe Miévilles literarische Produktion seit King Rat mit Interesse verfolgt und kann nach Lektüre von Kraken sagen, dass es für mich persönlich sein bisher intelligentestes, reifstes und relevantestes Werk ist.

In ihm vollzieht Miéville den logisch letzten Schritt, die Fantastik von New Crobuzon voll umfänglich in unsere Welt, in das kontemporäre London herüberzuheben. Bis auf das überraschende Ende könnte die Geschichte von Kraken eigentlich ganz genau so in der Welt von New Crobuzon angesiedelt sein, allerdings ist es gerade das Ende, das dem Buch eine echte Relevanz weit über das übliche Ausmaß fantastischer Literatur hinaus gibt.

Der Plot des Buches speist sich oft aus den Grundsätzen eines kontemporären magischen Denkens, die in den früheren Büchern schon anklangen, hier aber auf unaufdringliche Art und Weise im Zentrum der Handlung stehen. Betont sei ausdrücklich die Unaufdringlichkeit; die hauptsächliche Erzählperspektive ist jene eines komplett Ahnungslosen, der in diese magisch-fantastische Welt unter der mundanen Oberfläche Londons hineingezogen wird und sie dabei gemeinsam mit dem Leser kennenlernt. Dabei erliegt Miéville aber nie dem Fehler, seine Welt unter der Oberfläche Londons zum Selbstzweck werden zu lassen; wo weniger talentierte Autoren sich in langen Passagen der Erklärung des von ihnen geschaffenen Kosmos ergehen würden, reißt er seine Funktionsweise stets nur an.
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Perdido Street Station und The Scar sind zwei der besten Fantasy-Romane, die ich kenne, aber Kraken ist leider ziemlich enttäuschend. Der Stoff (Glauben, Religionen) ist interessant, die verspielte Sprache geht weit über das Niveau anderer Fantasy-Autoren hinaus, und surreale Ideen gibt es in Hülle und Fülle, aber ansonsten ist der Roman ziemlich misslungen. Das geht mit den Charakteren los: es sind alles Pappkameraden, die mich trotz anfänglicher Sympathie bis zum Schluss nicht wirklich interessiert haben. Atmosphärisch, stilistisch wusste der Autor offenbar nicht, wo er hin wollte: Comic Fantasy, Satire, Horror, Krimi? Für mich ist die Mischung jedenfalls nicht stimmig. Dann die Handlung: laaangweilig. Der inky mess-Rezensent hat völlig Recht. 100 Seiten weniger wären mehr gewesen. Statt apokalyptischer Atmosphäre und Spannung nur Endzeit-Geraune und endlose Variationen des immer gleichen. Irgendwann denkt man nur noch: Ja doch, ich hab's kapiert. Ein paar Ideen hätte sich Mieville mal lieber für 'ne Short Story aufgehoben. Selten habe ich bei einem Buch so oft überlegt, ob ich die Lektüre abbrechen soll. 3 Punkte gibt es von mir für die Sprache und die Ideen. In den besten Momenten hat mich der Roman an Jeff Noon erinnert, der ja leider schon lange nichts Neues produziert hat und dessen Falling out of cars auch eher schwach war.
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There is no doubt that China Miéville is, at any time, in full control of his writing. But what to make of a lauded author who willingly decides to write a pulp novel? The question lingers through the end of "Kraken", a crime novel-meets-urban fantasy, where warring cults and creepy assassins hunt museum curator Billy Harrow through a shadowy alternate London, which somehow exists on top, or below, the mundane city of the same name. Magic and the fantastic invade the story, revolving around the theft of a preserved giant squid, within the first couple of pages, with very little subtlety: spells are cast, curses spoken, people and things teleported, ghosts interrogated. Miéville hints that the common London simply negates the existence of this: more than once, Billy finds himself ignored by busy passersby while performing some outlandish act. As Miéville flexes his fantasy muscle, some powerful scenes capture the reader's attention, though it remains questionable whether this is indeed more than standard fare to be had from the crowd of other New Weird authors. What ultimately breaks the novel's back is the sprawling, haphazard narrative, easily too long by at least a hundred pages, a fact accounted for by endless exposition and mostly hollow, repetitive dialogue. Police officers drowning what little information there is in their deliberations in insults and slurry language; the protagonists restating the thinnest facts over and over; all of them struggling to wrap their heads around the true motives of their counterparts amid a plot that meanders through so many red herrings and turns it would be a formidable exercise to chain the sequence of events and motivations together after the admittedly rather astonishing finale.Lesen Sie weiter... ›
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