From an interview with China Miéville in The Socialist Worker:
To this day, I often hear people on the left talk about "utopian, hopeful, progressive science fiction"--as if these are the same terms. Sometimes, "hopeful" fiction can be among the most reactionary. Sometimes, the "grimmest" and most depressive fiction might be really, really radical--or it might not, but it might be fantastic fiction.In other news, China Miéville can beat everybody up!
Obviously, there's a question of taste. If you don't like "grim books," you probably won't like some of my books. That's fine--that's taste.
And you might well construct a political critique where you say, "The bleakness of these books is reactionary for the following reasons." That's fine. That's an analysis, and I might argue back. But to simply put out there that the books are in some way either lacking and/or politically reprehensible because they're downbeat is crazy.
My favorite example about this, within genre, would be Night of the Living Dead because--spoiler alert--Night of the Living Dead is a fantastically bleak film, and a very politically interesting film. The idea that somehow it would have been more radical had it had a happy ending is so crazy. In that particular instance, it's the unrelenting bleakness of it and the way it's done that make it such a powerful political film.