China Miéville has just given a lecture at a bookstore in Bristol, and is now signing books. A long queue stretches from his table, through the shop, out the open door and around the street corner. China is happily answering questions and scrawling messages; the queue slowly shuffles forward.
But halfway through the event, a cry is heard – loud and urgent, it breaks the twilight and fractures the civilized calm: “MIÉVILLLLE!”. Everybody turns their heads, scanning the shop and looking for the source of the howl.
It sounds again: “MIIIEÉVILLE!” and now the cause is revealed – Martin Amis has forced his way inside the bookshop, and with a determined march is making his way towards China’s table.
“MIEEEÉVILLE” he screams once more before he slams a heavy book down in front of the bemused novelist. Yet Amis’ resolute scowl suddenly gives way to a sheepish grin; he moves his hand away to expose the book he has brought with him: a new hardback copy of Embassytown.
“China, would you sign my book please China?” He asks. China smiles, and explains that he’d be happy to oblige, but that Martin will have to join the back of the queue and wait his turn.
Something inside Amis finally snaps, and the staunch grimace returns to his face. “Don’t you know who I AM?” he asks through gritted teeth, before he shrieks and grabs a pen from China’s table. He lunges at Mr Miéville and attempts to gouge-out one of his eyes.
But Martin Amis hasn’t anticipated the ferocious loyalty of China Miéville’s fans. With the pen just an inch away from his target’s eye, Amis is set-upon by a hoard of protective Miéville-ites. His cries are muffled as he is swamped by livid readers who hoist him into the air, carry him through the shop and deposit him in the gutter outside along with the shop’s entire Martin Amis back-catalogue, soaking the books in mud and rendering them un-readable.
The drama concluded, China Miéville’s fans re-form the orderly queue and calmly await their turns.
WINNER: CHINA MIÉVILLE