Perdido Street Station Mass Market Paperback – Jul 29 2003
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When Mae West said, "Too much of a good thing can be wonderful," she could have been talking about China Miéville's Perdido Street Station. The novel's publication met with a burst of extravagant praise from Big Name Authors and was almost instantly a multiaward finalist. You expect hyperbole in blurbs; and sometimes unworthy books win awards, so nominations don't necessarily mean much. But Perdido Street Station deserves the acclaim. It's ambitious and brilliant and--rarity of rarities--sui generis. Its clearest influences are Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy and M. John Harrison's Viriconium books, but it isn't much like them. It's Dickensian in scope, but fast-paced and modern. It's a love song for cities, and it packs a world into its strange, sprawling, steam-punky city of New Crobuzon. It can be read with equal validity as fantasy, science fiction, horror, or slipstream. It's got love, loss, crime, sex, riots, mad scientists, drugs, art, corruption, demons, dreams, obsession, magic, aliens, subversion, torture, dirigibles, romantic outlaws, artificial intelligence, and dangerous cults.
Generous, gaudy, grand, grotesque, gigantic, grim, grimy, and glorious, Perdito Street Station is a bloody fascinating book. It's also so massive that you may begin to feel you're getting too much of a good thing; just slow down and enjoy.
Yes, but what is Perdido Street Station about? To oversimplify: the eccentric scientist Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin is hired to restore the power of flight to a cruelly de-winged birdman. Isaac's secret lover is Lin, an artist of the khepri, a humano-insectoid race; theirs is a forbidden relationship. Lin is hired (rather against her will) by a mysterious crime boss to capture his horrifying likeness in the unique khepri art form. Isaac's quest for flying things to study leads to verification of his controversial unified theory of the strange sciences of his world. It also brings him an odd, unknown grub stolen from a secret government experiment so perilous it is sold to a ruthless drug lord--the same crime boss who hired Lin. The grub emerges from its cocoon, becomes an extraordinarily dangerous monster, and escapes Isaac's lab to ravage New Crobuzon, even as his discovery becomes known to a hidden, powerful, and sinister intelligence. Lin disappears and Isaac finds himself pursued by the monster, the drug lord, the government and armies of New Crobuzon, and other, more bizarre factions, not all confined to his world. --Cynthia Ward --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
King Rat (1999), Miville'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. Miville'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 in an impressive and ultimately pleasing epic.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Paperback edition. See all Product Description
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On the other hand, Mieville has a real gift for political intrigue and power plays in his writing, and bizarrely creative concepts and settings. My favorite is a garbage dump that evolves a collective artificial intelligence due to a computer virus. The most mind-blowing aspect of this novel is the villains - a tribe of mutants who feed on one's thoughts and dreams, and excrete dark psychic pain in amounts that drive entire populations insane. So while Mieville needs a little practice reining in his many ideas into a leaner-and-meaner focus, this book still has the power to blow your mind in ways that sci-fi hasn't been capable of in ages. Here's a hot new writer that deserves to be hot.
So, you may be asking, why did I give this five stars? Because once the story got going, I couldn't put it down, flaws and all. Mieville's imagination is nearly boundless and it's a book, love it or hate it, that's unlike anything else. And in the Weaver, a spider-like god that walks the web of reality, Mieville has created one of the most interesting and wonderfully bizarre characters I've ever come across. The minute he/she/it stepped on the page, I was enthralled. Always. I'd reccomend checking this one out for the Weaver alone.
And even though Perdido felt aimless at times (a tighter plot would have done wonders), certain scenes were so amazing that I doubt I'll ever forget them. The chapter involving the Ambassador of Hell was simply brilliant, and it's just one amongst the many.
Though Perdido is not without its faults, its pros far out-weigh the cons, especially in the latter half. For the patient and open-minded, this is not a book to pass up, for it will definitely make an impression and probably a lasting one.
Miéville is not Peake, and I think one does him a disservice by a comparison which can only disappoint. “Perdido Street Station” has a richly detailed setting, painted with all the stops pulled out and a loving eye for the small particulars that create the big picture. But where Peake populated his stories with well-rounded, memorable, idiosyncratic, living, breathing beings, Miéville ‘builds’ his characters like he builds his city, creating props for his fantastic stage rather than personalities. I caught myself wondering, in fact, if it’s not New Crobuzon, who is the true protagonist of the story.
The story ...
Whose story? Isaac’s? Yagharek’s? New Crobuzon’s?
Yagharek with his lyrical, introverted voice came more alive for me than Isaac did, but he was not really given enough room to be the protagonist; he’s more of a catalyst and the frame that tries to hold this sprawling behemoth (pardon the pun) together. Which again leaves the city. The characters don’t really drive the plot, the city does -- this steaming, moving, writhing conglomeration of streets, buildings, machines and populace. And it does not merely drive the main plot, but throws out a multitude of independent little polyp arms, plot lines that lead back to themselves or nowhere in particular. A baroque monster, ugly, frustrating, barely comprehensible at times and utterly fascinating.
What’s it about? Responsibility? Consequences? Guilt? Who we are and what makes us who we are? Maybe.
Why read it?Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I'm a big fan of Mervin Peake's Gormenghast trilogy, & this book absolutely entranced me because of similarity's between the two. Read morePublished 3 months ago by ClwydJ
I first read Perdido Street Station a number of years ago and was blown away by Mieville's fertile imagination. Read morePublished on July 30 2013 by Thomas B. Friedman
Welcome to New Crobuzon! A disgusting and wretched city...where lots of fascinating people live. This is my fourth book by Miéville and none of them have ever disappointed... Read morePublished on Jan. 18 2013 by Robert Villeneuve
China Mieville is a Role Playing Game nerd, socialist punk and a damn fine author. If you are a fan of science fiction/fantasy, you *need* to read Perdido Street Station, one of... Read morePublished on Oct. 16 2012 by Mr. S. Garcia Camargo
Boring plot, boring setting, poorly strung together. You can see where the author is trying to go with this, but the end result is infantile over-use of shock imagery with an... Read morePublished on June 13 2012 by Tim Lenhardt
When I first picked up this book, I found the first third of it long and weird. Where were we getting at with all this stuff? Read morePublished on July 6 2011 by G. Larouche
An impressive dedication to worldbuilding and well written prose make for a very engrossing storyline that has kept me interested. Read morePublished on Feb. 20 2011 by Wir
Ugh! That's my impression of this book. I haven't read anything else by Mieville, and certainly won't after this fiasco of a novel. Read morePublished on Nov. 4 2010 by MacManji