Got an ology

30 April 2010

Possibly the book I’ve most enjoyed reading since I started this blog, The City and the City by China Miéville, has won the Arthur C Clarke Award for Britain’s best science fiction novel of the year.

So it should have done, because as soon as I’d finished I wanted to read it all over again, except that to a large extent you never can.

But is it science fiction? No, says Walker of Worlds: it’s either crime or fantasy. Yes, says NextRead: sociology is a science, isn’t it?

Sociology is pretty near the mark. I think I read it as political-science fiction, too: the dynamics of ethno-nationalist groups in contested territory, writ large, with a semi-Central European, semi-ex-Ottoman veneer. I felt I knew the cities even before I’d really read about them.

But is political science a science? You can’t put a political system in a lab and create repeatable experiments with it until it tells you what you want, or just what you don’t expect. At least, you shouldn’t. Although it might explain why we get some of the decision-makers we do.


3 Responses to “Got an ology”

  1. AlexJ Says:

    Sounds like a tough book to categorize.

  2. Sounds like my kind of book! Definitely going on the ‘to buy’ list!

  3. Old Kitty Says:

    Politics as science. Political science. It’s such a contradiction isn’t it? Politics involves people- is largely organic and continuously evolves as social and economic environments change.

    But there it is writ large and I’ve even looked at a wikepedia entry of the term political science!

    And now my brain hurts.

    I miss those silly Beattie ads..


    take care

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