Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon Series #1)

Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon Series #1)

by China Mieville

Paperback(1 AMER ED)

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Overview

Beneath the towering bleached ribs of a dead, ancient beast lies New Crobuzon, a squalid city where humans, Re-mades, and arcane races live in perpetual fear of Parliament and its brutal militia. The air and rivers are thick with factory pollutants and the strange effluents of alchemy, and the ghettos contain a vast mix of workers, artists, spies, junkies, and whores. In New Crobuzon, the unsavory deal is stranger to none—not even to Isaac, a brilliant scientist with a penchant for Crisis Theory.

Isaac has spent a lifetime quietly carrying out his unique research. But when a half-bird, half-human creature known as the Garuda comes to him from afar, Isaac is faced with challenges he has never before fathomed. Though the Garuda's request is scientifically daunting, Isaac is sparked by his own curiosity and an uncanny reverence for this curious stranger.

While Isaac's experiments for the Garuda turn into an obsession, one of his lab specimens demands attention: a brilliantly colored caterpillar that feeds on nothing but a hallucinatory drug and grows larger—and more consuming—by the day. What finally emerges from the silken cocoon will permeate every fiber of New Crobuzon—and not even the Ambassador of Hell will challenge the malignant terror it invokes . . .

A magnificent fantasy rife with scientific splendor, magical intrigue, and wonderfully realized characters, told in a storytelling style in which Charles Dickens meets Neal Stephenson, Perdido Street Station offers an eerie, voluptuously crafted world that will plumb the depths of every reader's imagination.

Praise for Perdido Street Station


“[A] phantasmagoric masterpiece . . . The book left me breathless with admiration.”—Brian Stableford

“China Miéville's cool style has conjured up a triumphantly macabre technoslip metropolis with a unique atmosphere of horror and fascination.”—Peter Hamilton

“It is the best steampunk novel since Gibson and Sterling's.”—John Clute

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345443021
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/27/2001
Series: New Crobuzon Series , #1
Edition description: 1 AMER ED
Pages: 720
Sales rank: 110,704
Product dimensions: 6.25(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

China Miéville is the author of numerous books, including This Census-Taker, Three Moments of an Explosion, Railsea, Embassytown, Kraken, The City & The City, and Perdido Street Station. His works have won the World Fantasy Award, the Hugo Award, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award (three times). He lives and works in London.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

A window burst open high above the market. A basket flew from it and arced towards the oblivious crowd. It spasmed in mid-air, then spun and continued earthwards at a slower, uneven pace. Dancing precariously as it descended, its wire-mesh caught and skittered on the building’s rough hide. It scrabbled at the wall, sending paint and concrete dust plummeting before it.

The sun shone through uneven cloud-cover with a bright grey light. Below the basket the stalls and barrows lay like untidy spillage. The city reeked. But today was market day down in Aspic Hole, and the pungent slick of dung-smell and rot that rolled over New Crobuzon was, in these streets,
for these hours, improved with paprika and fresh tomato, hot oil and fish and cinnamon, cured meat, banana and onion.

The food stalls stretched the noisy length of Shadrach Street. Books and manuscripts and pictures filled up Selchit Pass, an avenue of desultory banyans and crumbling concrete a little way to the east. There were earthenware products spilling down the road to Barrackham in the south;
engine parts to the west; toys down one side street; clothes between two more; and countless other goods filling all the alleys. The rows of merchandise converged crookedly on Aspic Hole like spokes on a broken wheel.

In the Hole itself all distinctions broke down. In the shadow of old walls and unsafe towers were a pile of gears, a ramshackle table of broken crockery and crude clay ornaments, a case of mouldering textbooks. Antiques, sex, flea-powder. Between the stalls stomped hissing constructs. Beggars argued in the bowels of deserted buildings. Members of strange races bought peculiar things. Aspic Bazaar, a blaring mess of goods, grease and tallymen. Mercantile law ruled: let the buyer beware.

The costermonger below the descending basket looked up into flat sunlight and a shower of brick particles. He wiped his eye. He plucked the frayed thing from the air above his head, pulling at the cord which bore it until it went slack in his hand. Inside the basket was a brass shekel and a note in careful, ornamented italics. The food-vendor scratched his nose as he scanned the paper. He rummaged in the piles of produce before him, placed eggs and fruit and root vegetables into the container, checking against the list. He stopped and read one item again, then smiled lasciviously and cut a slice of pork. When he was done he put the shekel in his pocket and felt for change, hesitating as he calculated his delivery cost, eventually depositing four stivers in with the food.

He wiped his hands against his trousers and thought for a minute, then scribbled something on the list with a stub of charcoal and tossed it after the coins.

He tugged three times at the rope and the basket began a bobbing journey into the air. It rose above the lower roofs of surrounding buildings,
buoyed upwards by noise. It startled the roosting jackdaws in the deserted storey and inscribed the wall with another scrawled trail among many,
before it disappeared again into the window from which it had emerged.


Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin had just realized that he was dreaming. He had been aghast to find himself employed once again at the university,
parading in front of a huge blackboard covered in vague representations of levers and forces and stress. Introductory Material Science. Isaac had been staring anxiously at the class when that unctuous bastard Vermishank had looked in.

“I can’t teach this class,” whispered Isaac loudly. “The market’s too loud.” He gestured at the window.

“It’s all right.” Vermishank was soothing and loathsome. “It’s time for breakfast,” he said. “That’ll take your mind off the noise.” And hearing that absurdity Isaac shed sleep with immense relief. The raucous profanity of the bazaar and the smell of cooking came with him into the day.

He lay hugely in the bed without opening his eyes. He heard Lin walk across the room and felt the slight listing of the floorboards. The garret was filled with pungent smoke. Isaac salivated.

Lin clapped twice. She knew when Isaac woke. Probably because he closed his mouth, he thought, and sniggered without opening his eyes.

“Still sleeping, shush, poor little Isaac ever so tired,” he whimpered,
and snuggled down like a child. Lin clapped again, once, derisory, and walked away.

He groaned and rolled over.

“Termagant!” he moaned after her. “Shrew! Harridan! All right, all right,
you win, you, you . . . uh . . . virago, you spit-fire . . .” He rubbed his head and sat up, grinned sheepishly. Lin made an obscene gesture at him without turning around.

She stood with her back to him, nude at the stove, dancing back as hot drops of oil leapt from the pan. The covers slipped from the slope of
Isaac’s belly. He was a dirigible, huge and taut and strong. Grey hair burst from him abundantly.

Lin was hairless. Her muscles were tight under her red skin, each distinct. She was like an anatomical atlas. Isaac studied her in cheerful lust.

His arse itched. He scratched under the blanket, rooting as shameless as a dog. Something burst under his nail, and he withdrew his hand to examine it. A tiny half-crushed grub waved helplessly on the end of his finger. It was a refflick, a harmless little khepri parasite. The thing must have been rather bewildered by my juices, Isaac thought, and flicked his finger clean.

“Refflick, Lin,” he said. “Bath time.”

Lin stamped in irritation.

New Crobuzon was a huge plague pit, a morbific city. Parasites, infection and rumour were uncontainable. A monthly chymical dip was a necessary prophylactic for the khepri, if they wanted to avoid itches and sores.

Lin slid the contents of the pan onto a plate and set it down, across from her own breakfast. She sat and gestured for Isaac to join her. He rose from the bed and stumbled across the room. He eased himself onto the small chair, wary of splinters.

Isaac and Lin sat naked on either side of the bare wooden table. Isaac was conscious of their pose, seeing them as a third person might. It would make a beautiful, strange print, he thought. An attic room, dust-motes in the light from the small window, books and paper and paints neatly stacked by cheap wooden furniture. A dark-skinned man, big and nude and detumescing, gripping a knife and fork, unnaturally still, sitting opposite a khepri, her slight woman’s body in shadow, her chitinous head in silhouette.

They ignored their food and stared at each other for a moment. Lin signed at him: Good morning, lover. Then she began to eat, still looking at him.

It was when she ate that Lin was most alien, and their shared meals were a challenge and an affirmation. As he watched her, Isaac felt the familiar trill of emotion: disgust immediately stamped out, pride at the stamping out, guilty desire.

Light glinted in Lin’s compound eyes. Her headlegs quivered. She picked up half a tomato and gripped it with her mandibles. She lowered her hands while her inner mouthparts picked at the food her outer jaw held steady.

Isaac watched the huge iridescent scarab that was his lover’s head devour her breakfast.

He watched her swallow, saw her throat bob where the pale insectile underbelly segued smoothly into her human neck . . . not that she would have accepted that description. Humans have khepri bodies, legs, hands;
and the heads of shaved gibbons, she had once told him.

He smiled and dangled his fried pork in front of him, curled his tongue around it, wiped his greasy fingers on the table. He smiled at her. She undulated her headlegs at him and signed, My monster.

I am a pervert, thought Isaac, and so is she.


Breakfast conversation was generally one-sided: Lin could sign with her hands while she ate, but Isaac’s attempts to talk and eat simultaneously made for incomprehensible noises and food debris on the table. Instead they read; Lin an artists’ newsletter, Isaac whatever came to hand. He reached out between mouthfuls and grabbed books and papers, and found himself reading Lin’s shopping list. The item a handful of pork slices was ringed and underneath her exquisite calligraphy was a scrawled question in much cruder script: Got company??? Nice bit of pork goes down a treat!!!

Isaac waved the paper at Lin. “What’s this filthy arse on about?” he yelled, spraying food. His outrage was amused but genuine.

Lin read it and shrugged.

Knows I don’t eat meat. Knows I’ve got a guest for breakfast. Wordplay on
“pork.”

“Yes, thanks, lover, I got that bit. How does he know you’re a vegetarian?
Do you two often engage in this witty banter?”

Lin stared at him for a moment without responding.

Knows because I don’t buy meat. She shook her head at the stupid question.
Don’t worry: only ever banter on paper. Doesn’t know I’m bug.

Her deliberate use of the slur annoyed Isaac.

“Dammit, I wasn’t insinuating anything . . .” Lin’s hand waggled, the equivalent of a raised eyebrow. Isaac howled in irritation. “Godshit, Lin!
Not everything I say is about fear of discovery!”

Isaac and Lin had been lovers nearly two years. They had always tried not to think too hard about the rules of their relationship, but the longer they were together the more this strategy of avoidance became impossible. Questions as yet unasked demanded attention. Innocent remarks and askance looks from others, a moment of contact too long in public—a note from a grocer—everything was a reminder that they were, in some contexts, living a secret. Everything was made fraught.

They had never said, We are lovers, so they had never had to say, We will not disclose our relationship to all, we will hide from some. But it had been clear for months and months that this was the case.

Lin had begun to hint, with snide and acid remarks, that Isaac’s refusal to declare himself her lover was at best cowardly, at worst bigoted. This insensitivity annoyed him. He had, after all, made the nature of his relationship clear with his close friends, as Lin had with hers. And it was all far, far easier for her.

She was an artist. Her circle were the libertines, the patrons and the hangers-on, bohemians and parasites, poets and pamphleteers and fashionable junkies. They delighted in the scandalous and the outré. In the tea-houses and bars of Salacus Fields, Lin’s escapades—broadly hinted at, never denied, never made explicit—would be the subject of louche discussion and innuendo. Her love-life was an avant-garde transgression,
an art-happening, like Concrete Music had been last season, or ’Snot Art!
the year before that.

And yes, Isaac could play that game. He was known in that world, from long before his days with Lin. He was, after all, the scientist-outcast, the disreputable thinker who walked out of a lucrative teaching post to engage in experiments too outrageous and brilliant for the tiny minds who ran the university. What did he care for convention? He would sleep with whomever and whatever he liked, surely!

That was his persona in Salacus Fields, where his relationship with Lin was an open secret, where he enjoyed being more or less open, where he would put his arm around her in the bars and whisper to her as she sucked sugar-coffee from a sponge. That was his story, and it was at least half true.

He had walked out of the university ten years ago. But only because he realized to his misery that he was a terrible teacher.

He had looked out at the quizzical faces, listened to the frantic scrawling of the panicking students, and realized that with a mind that ran and tripped and hurled itself down the corridors of theory in anarchic fashion, he could learn himself, in haphazard lurches, but he could not impart the understanding he so loved. He had hung his head in shame and fled.

In another twist to the myth, his Head of Department, the ageless and loathsome Vermishank, was not a plodding epigone but an exceptional bio-thaumaturge, who had nixed Isaac’s research less because it was unorthodox than because it was going nowhere. Isaac could be brilliant,
but he was undisciplined. Vermishank had played him like a fish, making him beg for work as a freelance researcher on terrible pay, but with limited access to the university laboratories.

And it was this, his work, which kept Isaac circumspect about his lover.

What People are Saying About This

John Clute

It is the best steampunk novel since Gibson and Sterling's.
—(John Clute, editor of Encyclopedia of Science Fiction)

Peter Hamilton

China Mieville's cool style has conjured up a triumphantly macabre technoslip metropolis with a unique atmosphere of horror and fascination.
—(New York Times best-selling author Peter Hamilton)

Customer Reviews

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Perdido Street Station 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 197 reviews.
Lelang More than 1 year ago
I've heard about China Mieville for a long time, so I picked this book as a starting point and dove into it. I finished it wholly unsatisfied, but still interested in him as an author. The prose is spectacular and vivid. I have seen many complaints that you need a dictionary to get through some of his descriptive pieces, but to that I say "read more; expand your vocabulary." These pieces are his strong suit and the most pleasurable part of reading this book. He has constructed a vivid world, though I was a bit disappointed that I didn't learn more about it. There was some wasted potential there. If there is a flaw in the writing, it's that he really beat to death the descriptions of New Crobuzon as a polluted industrial city - grime, filth, slime, etc etc. Anyway, the real disappointment is the story. I never cared. The protagonists were caricatures of people, and the monsters, while fascinating, failed to be good antagonists. The plot itself meandered aimlessly through a series of mostly related events that did not cohere into a fully realized plot. The tragedy, again, is that some of the scenes were superb (really!), but they felt like small scenes from a diorama or things that Mieville imagined and thought "Oh yeah, that has GOT to go in my next book," but without the necessary hooks to the rest of the book. The handlingers vs slake moths scene is perhaps the best example of this. TL;DR: I'll probably read King Rat, because it's supposed to be great, but you can safely skip this one.
Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin is a scientist that lives on the fringes of society. He is known for his research in things that aren't quite accepted by the rest of the scientific community. His most recent project is for a garuda, a bird-like creature, that has lost his wings. His job is to find a way for him to fly again. Isaac's girlfriend, Lin, is a bug person that has been recently hired by a notorious underworld drug lord to create a sculpture. Now, these two incidents have in common. Well, not too much as first, but as we read further into the story strange and unrelated events turn into a nightmare. Nearly invincible creatures are released into the city and are killing in ways no one can quite figure out and Isaac, Lin, and their friends find themselves the center of it all. I really enjoyed reading this. There was sooooooo much going on that I was a bit overwhelmed when I first finished, but after sitting on my thoughts for a few days I realized how detailed the whole story was. Everything that was mentioned had a purpose. That purpose may not come into play for hundreds of pages, but the set up was perfect. The characters bothered me at first because they were very extreme in their personalities. But, again, as the story went along their quirks and extreme behavior all played a part. They also grew into completely new people as the events around them forced them to change their opinions and beliefs. This is a great book for any fan of SteamPunk, science fiction, or fantasy. I wish I could remember how it got on my wishlist so I could thank the person who recommended it. 5/5
SabsDkPrncs More than 1 year ago
The dystopian city that is the setting of this book is a character of it's own and the dark story is engrossing and detailed. Recommended for a sci-fi fan who is looking for a deeper, darker story than the traditional heroic tale.
TheIcemanCometh More than 1 year ago
A rollercoaster of a fantasy novel. Mieville in this novel explores and explodes the boundaries of contemporary fantasy, giving us an immersive "other" world full of well-constructed semi-human characters who are each expressions of that world, and then introduces us to what Farah Mendlesohn might term "intrusion fantasy"--the element of the horrific with which these characters must contend. A dynamic, wonderful read.
RCLewis More than 1 year ago
I have to admit that I was 100% engrossed with this book and really had a hard time putting it down. Character development and plot were absolutely amazing. My only caveat (and the reason for 4 stars rather than 5) is that the ending of the book felt very rushed. I'll try to leave this vague (as not to be a spoiler): there are 2 characters added super late to the story, and it really felt like loose ties of our other main characters were not successfully tied up. That being said, I still really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone else who is looking for a new dark fantasy -ish book.
dalnewt More than 1 year ago
This fantasy is wonderfully complex and vivid. The descriptions of the metropolis of New Crobuzon are macabre and fascinating. The prose is elegant and inventive. The primary characters are appealing and convincing. The plot initially ensnares the reader in a scientist's quest to restore flight to a sentient creature who has been de- winged in punishment for an obscure crime. It transforms into a heart-thumping race to find and kill monstrous predator moths which have escaped because of the scientist's inadvertence. This is not a five star fantasy. It's a ten star fantasy which provides mesmerizing days of reading enjoyment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mieville has created a world rich in detail, evocative of our own, without glossing it over into unbelievable utopia. The characters are well-drawn, and the his use of language is rich, playful, and masterful. (I reached more than once for my OED.) I've recommended it to friends because I want there to be someone with whom I can discuss it. If I could, I would visit New Crobuzon on my next vacation.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A phantasmagoric speculative novel set in a squalid, semi industrial city that follows a scientist and the deadly creatures he unwittingly looses on the city. Perdido Street Station crosses genres frequently and makes effective combined use of traditional fantasy, SF, and horror elements. The novel is well written and proceeds at a steady pace. Definitely recommended.
Darrol on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Through the first couple hundred pages I liked this book, but the second half was a drag and the plot seemed to lose coherence. The search for flight for the garuda is lost in the fight against the slakemoths. The urban gothic elements were fun for a while, but this was spoiled by the absurd technology. I doubt I will read anythings else of this type.
jennbisk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Started off great, but was so long I just couldn't finish it -- I stopped caring all that much and wanted to read something else. Very dark. Loved the bird-guy character.
jasmyn9 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin is a scientist that lives on the fringes of society. He is known for his research in things that aren't quite accepted by the rest of the scientific community. His most recent project is for a garuda, a bird-like creature, that has lost his wings. His job is to find a way for him to fly again. Isaac's girlfriend, Lin, is a bug person that has been recently hired by a notorious underworld drug lord to create a sculpture. Now, these two incidents have in common. Well, not too much as first, but as we read further into the story strange and unrelated events turn into a nightmare. Nearly invincible creatures are released into the city and are killing in ways no one can quite figure out and Isaac, Lin, and their friends find themselves the center of it all.I really enjoyed reading this. There was sooooooo much going on that I was a bit overwhelmed when I first finished, but after sitting on my thoughts for a few days I realized how detailed the whole story was. Everything that was mentioned had a purpose. That purpose may not come into play for hundreds of pages, but the set up was perfect. The characters bothered me at first because they were very extreme in their personalities. But, again, as the story went along their quirks and extreme behavior all played a part. They also grew into completely new people as the events around them forced them to change their opinions and beliefs.This is a great book for any fan of SteamPunk, science fiction, or fantasy. I wish I could remember how it got on my wishlist so I could thank the person who recommended it.5/5
-Eva- on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a piece of work is...China Miéville's mind. Noble in reason, I can only assume from his writing, but definitely infinite in faculty. Reading Perdido is like wading through thick, delicious caramel - it makes for a slow read because of its intricate details and complex cabal of characters, laid out before the reader with an unerring ear for language, and it is absolutely impossible not to be beguiled by the world presented. Sure it's verbose, even prolix, but it's so eloquently done, without approximations, that I couldn't imagine even one word missing because it would detract from the whole. But, more importantly, Miéville is not a one-trick pony, flaunting a flawless grasp of language; he does have something acute to say about life. Perdido isn't about evil versus good or about any single quest, it's about modern society and its workings. It has something to say about the working man's struggle, about freedom of speech, about racial division, about a totalitarian government's rights and responsibilities, about religious following, about ecological repercussions, and whether it is possible to exist in some sort of harmony with other beings when their history and outlook on life is completely different from yours.Fortunately, despite bringing up important issues, Miéville manages to do very little preaching. This is in essence a fantasy, inhabited by a living landscape, hideous monsters, and the flawed friends who try to make the best of what's been handed to them. There are no easy solutions offered and no perfect ending, pretty much like life itself. I am, as ever, in awe of the imagination that brought it into being.
pajarita on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It is clear that China Miéville is an exceptionally inventive writer. The steam-punk/fantasy world of the city-state New Crobuzon is an extraordinary creation. The world is populated with many sentient species and ethnicities¿each with different needs and agendas¿all enduring the dominance of a corrupt and incompetent human police state that oppresses and exploits most of even the human population. The varieties of creatures, monsters, and technologies are fascinating. The plot twists and character descriptions rival Dickens. And for these reasons alone this book is worth your time.New Crobuzon is a dark dystopian city that is cruel, grimy, polluted, crime-ridden, loaded with slums, deteriorating, and seems a blight upon its world. It is labyrinthian and architecturally grotesque, and occasionally appalling and awe inspiring.Into this dark environment Miéville introduces unique and memorable protagonists who become wrapped up in a plot that promises depth and complexity but devolves into a hunt for monsters. And for a while this hunt deteriorates into a horror novel. Admittedly, this plot is occasionally elevated by a crafty and enjoyable pseudo-science that seems to recall the best pulp novels and comic books, but with better pseudo-science and cooler steam-punk gadgets.But it is amazing to me that Miéville can so well develop the emotional workings of his major protagonists, but not give the appearance that he cares much for them. The dark, demeaning, and exhausting trials these characters are put through seems to assume a very bleak ontology. This was one of Miéville¿s favorite words¿it means ¿the nature of existence¿. ******* SPOILER*******And the eventual final plot development eventually so rests upon the concept of betrayal that, for me, this was a depressing and demoralizing experience that I have not yet digested. Four stars for talent and invention. One star left off because I feel so crummy after reading this. Maybe a month from now I will feel different.
questbird on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An enjoyable and unusual fantasy in a unique urban setting. Characters are quite good, but some parts of the plot development were a bit creaky. The antagonists, alien moth-things, are very well-realised and disturbing.The main character of this fantasy is undoubtedly the sprawling, industrial metropolis of New Crobuzon. Miéville loves describing its numerous ghettos, industrial outflows and waste-dumps. He revels in its ugliness. He loves it. The city is well-described, perhaps too well-described at times. Characters would sometimes enter some suburb or enclave for no particular plot-related reason. The city seems like such a vile place, a sump of poverty and 'dark Satanic mills'. In spite of the rich description I found myself wondering frequently about its context. Why did New Crobuzon exist? Who did its polluting industries serve?The steampunk references confused me. There were clockwork mechanisms, industrial magic, steam power. The magic seemed peculiarly scientific, as if it were the product of advanced technology. Magic steam power allowed the exporation of modern themes such as networked computing, artificial intelligence and genetic engineering. I thought for a moment that this novel might have been science-fiction, but it was a fantasy -- there was no real attempt at explaining how this stuff works. The different races in the world reminded me of Star Trek aliens -- humans in strange suits. There were insect women, frog people, bird people; though at least not the usual dwarves, elves, hobbits etc. I suppose. The book had some technical flaws in narrative and plot construction, and quite a few typographical errors. There were some strange narrative choices. The narrative point of view flitted around the city, from the main character, the scientist Isaac to his friends, to the corrupt mayor, with an occasional first person view from a character who stimulates the action but who is otherwise a minor character. The plot was a bit creaky in places. There was not just one but three Deus Ex Machina events (one of them a literal one), although two of them worked reasonably well in context (Jack Half-a-Prayer's involvement was never explained). The climax relied on a number of unlikely coincidences and required more intervention from the otherworldly Weaver.In spite of its flaws, Perdido Street Station was an entertaining read whose pace picked up as it developed. Perhaps a little too much description of the setting but I enjoyed it and would read the other Bas-Lag books.
zenhead on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
perhaps the most astonishing book i've ever read. mieville creates a completely real world out of whole cloth, filled with characters not of differing races, but differing species - all of whom are fully rendered and knowable, even the "constructs." the story is wildly compelling and completely convincing, in a world that makes one imagine turn-of-the-century london, filled with steam-powered machines, gas lights, evil secret police, a corrupt government, and a small band of misfits who unknowingly unleash a horrible doom on their world, and struggle to find a solution. there are deep philosophical issues raised, einsteinian delvings into the nature of crisis and the novel idea of the crime of "choice-theft." to quote one of the back-flap reviews, "it left me breathless with admiration." a steampunk novel that will define the heights to which the genre can aspire. exhausting, enthralling and unforgettable. the best part? there's more to come....
cleverusername2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Perdido Street Station was certainly a wonderful read, the kind that prompts you to stay up to 2 am as to reach its conclusion. As much as I savored every chapter I can see spots where Miéville butted up against the limits of his ability to hold onto a complex narrative. The first half of the book is very evocative, introducing you to the snarled vistas of the Victoriana-inspired fantasy city of New Corbuzon with liberal dashes of reference to the outside world of Bas-Lag. I¿ve read that Miéville is a Dungeons & Dragons fan and I can certainly see its influence on this novel. It is clear he wanted to write a fantasy story completely out of the Tolkien high fantasy mold and his fantasy races could have easily wandered off the pages of a TSR Monstrous Manual complete with creatures borrowed from real-world mythology such as the Garuda and Khepri. Perdido Street Station could be loosely called a fantasy but fits exactly into the New Weird movement; in fact it could be capstone to New Weird as Neuromancer is to cyberpunk. I enjoyed the narrative flow of the first half, where there is much banter between the ensemble of characters. There is a lot of showing instead of telling us what they are doing. No one is a saint in Bas-Lag. Everyone is a varying shade of sinner, even heroes cut from a Fritz Leiber sword & sorcery cloth for scoundrels. Good stuff. There was also a party of ¿adventurers¿ that was a fun parody of a troupe of D&D characters. Things don¿t quite work out for them as they do around the kitchen table.Halfway through though something bad happens, and it gets worse. Then it gets terrible; and then even worse. I think it is a fine and wonderful thing to put your characters through some fresh hell but slowly the narrative flow started to change. For whole chapters there was no dialogue. We were told what was going on rather then shown. I was still enjoying myself but it took me outside the book a bit. I¿d love to read some of Miéville¿s later works to see if he has avoided being written into a corner like this. Another fold in the soft, vulnerable underbelly of this novel is the inclusion of TWO otherworldly deus ex machina characters who are vital to concluding the finale. While this sort of thing happens in science fiction, fantasy and horror stories (Perdido Street Station is a bit of all three); all the time I suppose it is mildly acceptable yet a tad glaring. It seems as if an important plot element from the start of the book is forgotten, but it comes back quite spectacularly in the finale. There is an epic monster-hunting standoff then only slight reprieve as the antiheroes go underground fearing for their lives wanted dead by both the police state apparatchicks and the powerful criminal underworld at-the-same-time. The story ends in a gut punch of a reveal. Very nice.Perdido Street Station is like a photography exhibit of some alien ghetto. It is horrid and beautiful. It is lush and repellant. I don¿t¿ think this is a novel for everyone but certainly for fans of the macabre. It seems like a sophomore effort but with considerable potential to thrill.You will never look at a certain night-flying insect the same way.
Phrim on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book started out slow, as Mieville described in detail the ins and outs of the bizarre world we find ourselves in. The city of New Crobuzon seems a lot like industrial-era London, complete with poverty, crime, corruption, and a blatant disregard for the environment; the fantastic elements Mieville weaves in seem at the same time strange and perfectly suited to the locale. The plot picks up in the second half, and we find that the book is about crisis management: many powerful yet diverse factions want to achieve practically the same goal, yet they find way to butt heads regardless. The reader can't help but to be amazed at the power many of the players have at their disposal. The ending, unfortunately, was very abrupt, as a plot point that was a mere footnote throughout most of the book suddenly became relevant and caused the characters to go their own separate ways, without the reader ever finding out what happens.
jlparent on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not what I was thinking of when I was first introduced to the steampunk genre; to me it's more of a mix of speculative/urban fantasy with some steampunk and dark fantasy elements. I found it a bit slow, especially in the beginning. This is the 2nd time I've tried to read Mieville (previously attempted Scar) and neither really rocked my socks. I just felt like it was overdone and slow but I liked the city description, some of the characters, and the varying POV. Rating - uneven.
ccourtland on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I must wave my white flag in defeat! I admit I surrendered half way through Perdido Street Station. I got roughly 300 pages into the 600 page novel. I don't want my 2 star rating to necessarily discourage readers from picking up this book. First, let me explain. Based on the rating system, 2 stars means 'it's ok,' and for me it was. Did I like it, or find it enjoyable? Honestly, not really. In this case, I think it is, 'It's me, not you,' thing. Yep, I think this is the first time I had to gently break up with a book.Do I think the author is brilliant? Absolutely! There is no arguing this point, the man is a genius. His writing is poetic, descriptive, original while at the same time staying authentic to the roots of science fiction fantasy. It is an epic novel and will be discussed by literary circles for decades. Unfortunately, like many great award winning works it's simply not an entertaining, enjoyable read. Is it intellectual? Perhaps, too much so. My brain was in a virtual mind melt of information, technology, names, maps, structures, creatures, races and machines. Not to mention I'm not all that familiar with science fiction steampunk features so I had to learn those too. This is not a book you can set down and come back to. The length is grueling, so the reader will at some point need to take a break. I found it easier to read only when I had large blocks of time. So, if you find yourself serving a prison sentence, or grounded for the summer, I recommend taking this along. Like other epic novels, it sometimes takes pages of re-reading to get back into the scene.I can't even begin to imagine what it took to create, edit and proof this book -- which was flawlessly done! It's incredible and frankly makes my head ache just thinking about it. So to the hardcore science fantasy intellectuals, I say you'll likely love it. For those new to the steampunk scene, you may want to wait on this one until you are more familiar with the genre.
agis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Perdido Street Station is a dense book, crowded and alive like the city of New Crobuzon where it's set. Not necessarily in plotting - while Mieville sets up a large number of plot threads, once that is done they coalesce rapidly, leaving a large part of the book with a straightforward narrative. But the writing and imagery bring you into the city itself, the lives of the inhabitants and creatures; it's a remarkable bit of writing, though perhaps not the easiest book to read.New Crobuzon is perhaps the most important part of the book, a putrid, jumbled city built around a river. Mievelle has been placed as part of the "New Weird" movement in science fiction, and the city is an amalgam of races and species, in ghettos and mixed districts, most of the city wretchedly poor. The species are separate from both standard fantasy and logic, wrapped up in and often living on the odd magic of the world. There's massive inventiveness here, but nothing out of place.The main thrust of the book follows Isaac Grimnebulin, a talented but unreliable outcast scientist, and his researches sparked by a request from the the half-man, half-bird Yagharek. The broader cast gets quite large, but never weighs down the novel unnecessarily, although a few later minor characters never fully mesh. Once the plot lands on the straight narrative later on, there are a few asides and passages that could - and perhaps should - have been cut from this long book. But the slow pacing and dense prose fit to a broad extent the book's world itself, a bustling, grimy, fascinating city - and book.
ehtnioj on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Perdido Street Station is thoroughly enjoyable fantasy. The plot itself is a little pedestrian, however the setting really steals the show. New Crobuzon and the Bas-Lag bestiary are refreshingly innovative, which really sets the author apart from his contemporaries. Mr. Mieville's discussions of the garuda criminal code and socialist ethos is a bit tiring and reads like a college freshman term paper, but thankfully he cuts the bland political discussion short. I am definitely looking forward to reading The Scar and diving back into Bas-Lag.
Clurb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
120 pages in and I was blown away by the originality of Mieville's ideas, but the density of the writing and the slowness of the plot made me call it a day. I feel ashamed of myself.
TheAmpersand on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not much for genre fiction of any sort, but I'd heard good things about Mieville's work from readers I respect. When I found a new copy of "Perdido Street Station" on sale for two bucks, it seemed like a good place to get my feet wet. I'm not quite sure what I expected, but this wasn't exactly a world-changer for me. There's a lot floating around in this book ¿ Mieville muses on religion, artificial intelligence, urban planning, science, and history, but these ideas are basically window-dressing on a big, pulpy film noir narrative. His world can sometimes be beguilingly exotic, but much of Mieville's source material, which likely includes superhero comics, sci-fi everything, and gangster movies, will probably seem achingly familiar to most readers. New Crobuzon can seem a lot like London with a few extra antennae thrown in, it's often too easy to draw a direct connection between the social conditions of Bas-Lag and our own contemporary social issues, and many of Mieville's characters seem like echoes of the boho post-collegiate types that the author probably once ran with. This isn't necessarily a problem, since "Perdido Street Station" is still lots of fun to read. There are some nice touches here ¿ a gigantic set of fossilized ribs of indeterminate origin tower over the city, his characters carry flintlocks, and oddball religious cults flourish. Mieville's also done some reading in cultural studies and related fields ¿ many of characters inhabit in-between cultural spaces, and his treatment of them is admirably sensitive. Also, his invented creatures are appropriately terrifying. The book's overlong, but Mieville works hard to keep a rather intricate plot in motion, and his writing is, by turns, entertainingly purple, gritty, and cinematic. Still, nothing connects on a thematic level. Ideas float in and out of the text and a detailed fantasy world gets built, but I'm not sure Mieville knows exactly what, if anything, he wants his book to say. It's interesting enough, though, to see the (strictly analog) cogs of his mind spin for a few hundred pages. I'll be picking up "The Scar" next. You can't go wrong for two bucks.
Aerrin99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Perdido Street Station is bizarre and baffling and a little bit wonderful. This is a book thick with an atmosphere so vividly drawn that you can smell the slums and rivers and feel the thick dream-gloom settle over you. In some ways, this book's greatest triumph is its ability to create the story in the reader - this is a book about nightmares and dream-fog, and it's almost impossible to read Meiville's work without feeling that fog settle thick over your brain as you get lost in his dream-world. Meiville's world-building is astounding, with cultures and races and history and geography and a hundred other tiny details weaving together into a gorgeous tapestry that is hard not to admire. His mind must be a wonderful place to be.His monsters are top-notch and terrifying, his characters mostly engaging and complex, his city fantastic. Peridido Street Station does have its faults. His plot is a little weaker. It takes quite a long time to get going at all, and once we get there the pacing seems weak. I'm pleased that he's able to tie seemingly unconnected bits from the first half of the book back in, but it would have been better for the first half of the book to not seem unconnected at all. Some of the problem-solving that goes on feels a little too easy and coincidental given what we've seen his monsters to to others, and the government feels a little too incompetent given how easy some of the problem-solving is. That said, I spent the final few chapters racing to see what happened, with my heart beating in my throat. Meiville is dense, and although I enjoyed it, his book was slow going for me. It was one of those books that I enjoyed while I was reading it - I liked being in New Crobuzon - but it had little draw when I wasn't. Save for the last few chapters, I had no need to know what happened next, and so this book only got read on lunch breaks. He also has an obsession with the disgusting and the filthy. As I mentioned earlier, this works for me sometimes - his slums are vivid and interesting. But he's so attached to the concept that 'shit' or 'shat' become descriptors in nearly every chapter of the book, and something that was clever the first time becomes a distracting sign of 'look how revolting I can be!'This is a book that should absolutely be read by anyone who's a fan of genre fiction - steampunk, sci fi, fantasy - simply because it /is/ so baffling and bizarre. And wonderful. It's problems are there, but Meiville does something here that few other authors do, and it's worth it to immerse yourself in his world just to experience it.
ElizabethChapman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
To describe Perdido Street Station in its own parlance, this sci fi/gothic horror/steam punk novel is pulchritudinously packed, an oozing pungent mass of ideas with vertiginous details dripping from its core and complex thought forms bulging from its pages. To summarize the sprawling plot in a few lines, our hero is a rebellious scientist in the city of New Crobuzon, a squalid, dizzyingly weird urban center populated by numerous species of bizarre creatures. Isaac receives a commission from a half human/half bird ¿garuda¿ who is seeking to fly again after his wings were hacked off in punishment for a terrible crime. Isaac unwittingly unleashes terrifying soul-consuming monsters in his quest to help the garuda and must try to destroy them before they systematically consume the minds of all New Crobuzon¿s inhabitants.Mieville will likely send you scurrying to Google to unpack the origins of the sentient beings in his work (and to the dictionary to decipher his vocabulary words.) Which may or may not be fun depending on your tastes. The creatures I could identify are based on myths and religions from around the world. The Vodyanoy are aquatic creatures of Slavic/Norse tales. Garuda are bird-like demi-gods of Buddist and Hindi mythology. And the eeriest (to my mind), are the Khepri, who have human bodies but heads that are scarab beetles and hale from the beliefs of Ancient Egypt. Mieville¿s ability to conjure a startlingly inventive world is prodigious and the plot line of Perdido Street Street is gripping. But the pacing of the storytelling can be as gelatinous and dense as New Curbozon¿s slimy backwaters. Towards the culmination of the novel (and this is no spoiler), an important plot points hangs on an effort to lay cable throughout the city. Mieville takes no fewer than fifteen pages to describe the process. Fifteen? It¿s writing like this that drags out the story and tempts one to skim until things pick up again. I *could* put it down, in fact I had to stop reading many times to reenergize and prepare to hack again through the lengthy descriptive passages.I found the end of the story deeply disappointing, but I¿m sure others would strongly disagree. Even with these serious flaws, Perdido Street Station enthralls. I found myself thinking of it as I was falling asleep and mulling it over again in the morning as I woke. I¿ll need a long break before I read another of Mieville¿s novels, but there is no doubt in my mind I¿ll be to the world of Bas-Lag.