While researching his next novel in the British Library’s rare books room, China Miéville is alerted to a commotion in the doorway. Sting, naked and in some kind of neo-tantric sexual trance, has entered the library armed with a bass guitar. A panic ensues and people flee as Sting begins to swing his instrument (that is, the guitar), knocking books off tables and filling the air with parchment, papers and pages.
Soon only China and Sting are left in the room, Sting making a beeline for China, wildly swaying the guitar as a flurry of paper rains down around him.
“Gordon, calm down” China Miéville says, standing. His words though, go unheeded, and Sting moves closer and closer. China backs away, pulling books from the stacks and throwing them, bombarding Sting with a barrage of increasingly heavy literature.
But Sting, like some frenzied baseball player, bats the tomes aside and continues his march towards China. A Kelmscott Chaucer is deflected, so too a Doomsday book. China reaches the end of the row where only one volume remains; a curiously misshelved edition of ‘1001 songs you must hear before you die’.
Sting freezes, momentarily caught up in a void of unpleasant memories: jealousy, rejection, confusion – none of his songs are in that book. China uses this opportunity to lob this codex of pop-culture straight at his assailant’s head – striking him squarely and knocking him unconscious.
China, relieved and bemused, re-takes his seat and continues his research.
WINNER: CHINA MIÉVILLE