Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the second of the Versus Battles! Tonight, we have a vanguard of the British nouveau-SF writers, Mr. Jeff Noon against the world-class genre-masher, Mr. China Miéville. In this battle we have Noon’s first book Vurt, against Miéville’s first novel King Rat. It’s basically going to follow the same sort of format as the first Versus Battle, but a few little changes (and maybe, just maybe, some improvements. Let’s not get too carried away though). Oh, and a warning that there are some plot spoilers in here, but nothing you can’t handle, I’m sure.
The Weigh In
Vurt was first published in 1993, by Ringpull Press – sadly that’s not the edition that I have, I’ve got the Pan Books 2001 edition. I first read Vurt when I was a mere slip of a girl in the late nineties, and SF still felt kind of verboten, like it was something I shouldn’t like because I was a girl. Phew, but let’s not get into the psychology of that statement… Vurt runs to 325 pages in the Pan edition that I have. The ISBN of said edition is 9780330338813. King Rat was first published by Macmillan in 1998, but the version I got from the library is the 1999 Pan Books edition. 421 pages all up, and an ISBN of 0330370987. This is my first reading of King Rat, but I’m not a first timer for China Miéville’s work – previously, I’ve read and enjoyed (and had my word power extended by) Perdido Street Station, Un Lun Dun and Kraken. I feel like these two books are pretty evenly matched in terms of size and subject, so we should have a good fight on our hands.