Kraken by China Mieville

(some reading notes)

It would hang, an absurdly massive tentacled sepia event. Architeuthis dux. The giant squid.

It was a Linnaean décor; species clined into each other.

the edges of deep, the fringe of the dysphotic zone

“First-ever observations of a live giant squid in the wild” the paper was called, as if ten-year-olds had taken control of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. First ever.

The FSRC is the Fundamentalist and Sect-Related Crime Unit.

It’s not so much ‘plausible denial’—that’s not the best strategy these days. It’s more ‘plausibly uninteresting.’

That reconstitutive intelligence, berserker meme-splicing, seeing in nothings first patterns, then correspondence, then causality and dissident sense.

We live,” he said, too flatly for any humour to be audible, “in the epoch of competing ends.”

And in this world where you now are, everything represents something. Get it? It’s really important you get that. Everything represents something.

“It’s the ends of the world.” “End of the world?” “Ends.”


INTO SLEEP’S BENTHOS AND DEEPER. A SLANDER THAT THE DEEPEST parts are lightless. There are moments of phosphor with animal movement. Somatic glimmers, and in this trench of sleep those lights were tiny dreams.

What you’re trying to do with planurgy is get things into other spaces, you know? Real things, with edges and surfaces, and all that. With origami you’re still dealing with all that surface area. There’s no cutting, you know? The point is you can unfold it, too.

Constable. Pre-Steenstrup, so it’s what we call the atramentous epoch. Before we emerged from the ink-cloud.

Architeuthis is kraken-spawn. Gods are oviparous. Not just our gods, all gods. God-spawn’s everywhere if you know where to look.

Architeuthis, Mesonychoteuthis, unknowns. After all those years of silence. They’re rising.

London was full of dissident gods. Why? Well they have to live somewhere. A city living in its own afterlife. Why not?

Theurgic vermin, those once worshipped or still worshipped in secret, those half worshipped, those feared and resented, petty divinities: they infect everybloody-where. The ecosystems of godhead are fecund, because there’s nothing and nowhere that can’t generate the awe on which they graze.

“You have to persuade the universe that things make sense a certain way. That’s what knacking is.”

unfamiliarly verbed

A Tibetan Book of the Dead by the Bhagavad Gita, by two or three Qur’ans, testaments old and new, arcana and Aztec theonomicons. Krakenlore. Cephalopod folklore; biology; humour; art and oceanography; cheap paperbacks and antiquarian rarities. Moby-Dick, shapes etched onto its cover. Verne’s 20,000 Leagues.

He read the names Dickins and Jelliss, Alice Chess. A spread about mutant versions of the game with arcane rules, bishops and pawns given strange powers, transmogrified pieces called saurians, torals and anti-kings, and one called a kraken. The “universal leaper” was usually thought the most powerful piece, he read, as it could go from where it was to any other square on the board. But it was not. Kraken was. Kraken = universal leaper + zero, he read, = universal sleeper. It could move to any square including the one it was already on. Anywhere including nowhere.

You can’t see the future, there’s no such thing. It’s all bets. You’ll never get the same answer from two seers. But that doesn’t mean either of them’s wrong.

But it’s all degrees of might. You want your prognosticators to argue.


A flattening of the dark, coming up out of dark. Beggaring perspective.

Fortune-telling was quantum betting, a competitive scrying of variably likely outcomes. That variation, the disagreements, indispensable to the calculation. Triangulating possibilities.


“Oh no, there’s certainly something to it. The difficult thing is working out exactly what.”

The mnemophylax is the angel of memory. There’s one in all the memory palaces.

They were not beings, precisely, not from where most Londoners stood, but derived functions that thought themselves beings.

The Londonmancers had been there since Gogmagog and Corineus, since Mithras and the rest.

there were the reality-smiths of the TV generation.

The man’s dead. And the man at the other end only thinks he’s the same man. He ain’t. He only just got born. He’s got the other’s memories, yeah, but he’s newborn. That Enterprise, they keep killing themselves and replacing themselves with clones of dead people. That is some macabre shit. That ship’s full of Xerox copies of people who died.

Time time time. Time’s always a bit more fiddly than you reckon


MEMORY versus the inevitable

Like many groups devoid of real power and realpolitik, the church was actually constrained by its aesthetics. Its operatives could not have guns, simply, because guns were not squiddy enough.

What’s the point of the theological turn? Is godness a particularly resilient kind of grubbiness? Maybe the turn is like an ultraviolet torch at a crime scene, showing up spattered residue on what had looked clean ground

The Communion of the Blessèd Flood prayed for the restoration of the wet. Marge read of their utopias, sunk not in ruination but reward: Kitezh, Atlantis, Tyno Helig. They honoured their prophets: Kroehl and Monturiol, Athanasius, Ricou Browning, and John Cage’s father. They cited Ballard and Garrett Serviss. They gave thanks for the tsunami and celebrated the melting of the satanic polar ice, which mockingly held water in motionless marble. It was a sacred injunction on them to fly as far and often as they could, to maximise carbon emissions. And they placed holy agents where they might one day help expedite the deluge.

projection, remote viewing, sensory tickling, nightwalk sniffery, drift-jamming and a codewar flutter

Invented streets inserted into maps to right copyright wrongs, to prove one representation was ripped off from another. It was hard to find any definitive lists of these spurious enmapped locations, but there were suggestions

an endless skirmish between angles and emptiness.

They quoted the Mahavamsa, the reassurance to King Dutthagamani after he slaughtered thousands of non-Buddhists. “Only one and a half human beings have been slain here by thee. Unbelievers and men of evil life were the rest, not more to be esteemed than beasts.”

With script, a new kind of memory, grimoires and accounts. Traditions could be created, lies made more tenacious. History written down sped up, travelled at the speed of ink.

seelie, unseelie, abseelie, paraseelie

the drably vulgar contingent weak godlessness that had absolutely nothing going for it at all except, infuriatingly, its truth

  • kraken.txt
  • Last modified: 2021-09-25 08:04
  • by nik