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Perdido Street Station [Hardcover]

China Mieville
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 30 2006
The metropolis of New Crobuzon sprawls at the centre of its own bewildering world. Humans and mutants and arcane races throng in the gloom beneath its chimneys. A stranger has come, with a pocketfull of gold and an impossible demand, and soon the city is to be gripped by an alien terror.
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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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), 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 in an impressive and ultimately pleasing epic.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My 100-word book review March 7 2006
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If I had to place stupendously imaginative novel Perdido Street Station in a genre, I'd say it was fantasy steampunk. Exotic and nightmarish creatures abound in New Crobuzon, a bustling, chaotic city milieu in a world featuring both magic and primitive technology. There is also a political dimension to the story, which highlights the abuse of power and also reflects the author's left-wing convictions. Be warned that there is a scarcity of happy outcomes for the characters, who are complex and never two-dimensional. If you have read and loved Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast books, you will immediately warm to China Mieville.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humungous Meisterwork of the New New Sci-Fi Feb. 3 2003
While accolades like "Dickensian" are a bit over the top, there hasn't been a new novelist in years that deserved as much excitement as China Mieville. Here we have a very impressive tour-de-force of modern science fiction mixed in with cyberpunk, subversive politics, and other heavy aspects of the Gen-X mindset. This novel takes place in a wasted city that is surely inspired by London, on a devastated planet that is probably Earth in the very distant future. Humans have mixed with many races of aliens into a dysfunctional society that has degenerated into a dark age of chaos and repression. Mieville does show some tendencies of the rampaging young writer with a few too many ideas, as this book tends to ramble in places. Sometimes we are lost in lengthy technical descriptions of machinery and architecture (an example is an overly long write-up of the workings of a mailroom in chapter 9), there are too many place names with no impact on the story, and a few too many bizarre alien races.
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.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone. . . May 29 2003
Perdido is not a casual read. The language is dense, and if you're vocabulary isn't up to snuff, you'll probably struggle with this. Mieville also dedicates an incredible amount of time to imagery and atmosphere. On top of all that, the book takes a while to warm up, and at times the plotting feels loose and disjointed.
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sybaritic comes to mind Jan. 24 2006
By hi.anja
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I finished this a while ago, but it’s one of those books I need a certain distance from before I am ready for any sort of evaluation.
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?
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for Serious Fantasy Literature Fans
I first read Perdido Street Station a number of years ago and was blown away by Mieville's fertile imagination. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Thomas B. Friedman
5.0 out of 5 stars As good or even better than what you've heard!
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 more
Published 21 months ago by Robert Villeneuve
5.0 out of 5 stars Make yourself a favour and buy this book
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 more
Published on Oct. 16 2012 by Mr. S. Garcia Camargo
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring overly wordy
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 more
Published on June 13 2012 by Tim Lenhardt
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, gritty, captivating and very unusual
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 more
Published on July 6 2011 by G. Larouche
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-written Steampunk, very engrossing.
An impressive dedication to worldbuilding and well written prose make for a very engrossing storyline that has kept me interested. Read more
Published on Feb. 20 2011 by Wir
1.0 out of 5 stars Save yourself the frustration, the boredom, your time...
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 more
Published on Nov. 4 2010 by MacManji
5.0 out of 5 stars Urban Freak Show
Miéville’s world is one of a complex urban freak show that takes place a step out of reality, mashing the existential woes of a dozen-odd cross-species, sub-species,... Read more
Published on June 19 2007 by B. Salomons
4.0 out of 5 stars Love it or hate it
In my opinion you'll either love this book or hate it. I love it, but I had to hold back a star because the ending may have been realistic, but it wasn't satisfying. Read more
Published on Nov. 20 2006 by L. A. Turner
4.0 out of 5 stars Heavy on imagination, light on story
It's not very often that i'm moved to buy a book by the oversimplified, standard-issue blurb on the back cover , but this one actually did the job. Read more
Published on July 17 2004 by Joe Henderson
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