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Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

a book by China Mieville

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A really captivating setting and story.

  • Jun 16, 2010

Perdido Street Station is the main hub of New Crobuzon, the place where all the transportation and communication lines of the city converge. It serves as an appropriate metaphor for New Crobuzon and the novel itself, in which converge the various threads of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. New Crobuzon is a city filled with monsters. To the xenophobic, the various races which occupy it--scarab-headed Khepri, amphibuous Vodyanoi, plant-like Catacae, winged Garuda--are just the most obvious example. But there are true horrors, some of which the city hides and others which it displays openly. A corrupt government punishes offenders through monstrous mutilations of the flesh of the convicted, while a secretive and deformed drug lord packages and sells the stuff of nightmares in order to control the city's underworld.

The protagonists are themselves somewhat marginal figures--artists, thieves, convicts, rogue scientists, rabble rousers--as can be expected in a city of such extremes. When events come together to release a terrible threat upon the city, they have to come together to defeat monster of almost unfathomable danger.

If not for Mieville's imaginative and narrative powers, that would sound like a rather conventional plot. But the craft with which the city and its various inhabitants are described and the imaginative turns the story takes make for an engaging reading experience, and I sometimes thought of how in my younger days, I could become immersed in works of science fiction and fantasy that I would nowadays find clunky and cliche-riddled. Some of the inhabitants we meet, from the noble mournful Yagharek to the seemingly insane Weaver, were really fascinating.

If there is one flaw, it is that of a large proportion of science fiction/fantasy: exposition. The exposition in Perdido Street Station wasn't bad, just what was necessary to understand the action, but there were moments where the exposition broke the flow of the story a little bit. The best works in SFF manage to make the exposition almost invisible, which doesn't quite happen in this novel.

But as I said above, it is still an incredibly enthralling experience. Conventional enough that it's quite easy to get into, while the innovative setting, story and characterization take it to a whole new level.

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More Perdido Street Station reviews
Quick Tip by . June 18, 2010
One of the most beautiful, phantasmagorical books I've ever read.
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
magical. this story has stayed with me since i've read it. it's enchanting, terrifying and masterfully executed.
review by . November 17, 2008
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
Wow. What a lushly fantastic book! Perdido Street Station can be compared to a glittering diamond, multi-faceted and riviting and mind-expanding.     China Mieville is a spectacular writer, and artist with an ink-pen rather than paintbrush, but he nevertheless paints out the city of New Crobuzon with vivid detail and fertile imagrey. This book literally took my breath away.     Revealing the barest glimpse of the plot, scientist Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin is …
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Carlos Ernesto McReynolds ()
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From Publishers Weekly
King Rat (1999), Mi‚ville's much-praised first novel of urban fantasy/horror, was just a palate-teaser for this appetizing, if extravagant, stew of genre themes. Its setting, New Crobuzon, is an audaciously imagined milieu: a city with the dimensions of a world, home to a polyglot civilization of wildly varied species and overlapping and interpenetrating cultures. Seeking to prove his unified energy theory as it relates to organic and mechanical forms, rogue scientist Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin tries to restore the power of flight to Yagharek, a member of the garuda race cruelly shorn of its wings. Isaac's lover, Lin, unconsciously mimics his scientific pursuits when she takes on the seemingly impossible commission of sculpting a patron whose body is a riot of grotesquely mutated and spliced appendages. Their social life is one huge, postgraduate bull session with friends and associates--until a nightmare-inducing grub escapes from Isaac's lab and transforms into a flying monster that imperils the city. This accident precipitates a political crisis, initiates an action-packed manhunt for Isaac and introduces hordes of vividly imagined beings who inhabit the twilight zone between science and sorcery. Mi‚ville's canvas is so breathtakingly broad that the details of individual subplots and characters sometime lose their definition. But it is also generous enough to accommodate large dollops of aesthetics, scientific discussion and quest fantasy ...
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ISBN-10: 0345459407 (MM pbk.)
ISBN-13: 9780345459404 (MM pbk.)
Author: China Mieville
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Publisher: Del Rey (July 29, 2003)
Date Published: (July 29, 2003)
Format: Mass Market Paperback: 640 pages, Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 1.1 inches
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