Cloggie: booklog: Perdido Street Station
Perdido Street Station
China Mieville
867 pages
published in 2000

Perdido Street Station, Mieville's second book, has generated some notice amongst British sf readers, and was nominated for the BSFA awards and actually won the Clarke award.

It's also one of the bigger novels published last year, clocking in at 867 pages in the paperback edition. Yet despite its length, the book stays gripping all the way through, never flagging and doesn't feel padded.

The story is set against the background of New Crobuzon, a corrupt city state metropolis, populated by humans, the insect like Khepri, waterloving Vodyanoi and the cactae, cactus like sophonts and other, stranger races. Not to mention the poor unfortunate Remade, criminals and neverdowells who have been reshaped as punishment or to satisfy the demands of industry. They may have steam driven jackhammers for arms frex, or the hands of the baby they murdered grafted to their face. The city itself is big, boisterous, filthy and alive. It's crisscrossed by railways, all intersecting at Perdido Street Station and skyways used by the hated militia, the city's protectors against external and internal dangers.

The story begins when rogue scientist Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin gets a commission from Yagharek, a Garuda. The Garuda are another alien race, capable of flight, nomadic and living in deserts far from the city. However Yagharek is an outcast, a criminal amongst his people and has had his wings sawed off. He desperately pleads to Isaac to restore flight to him.

Isaac accepts and in the course of his research somehow acquires a bizarre sort of caterpillar, which somehow seems linked to the city's latest favourite drug and which metamorphoses into an alien moth, a very dangerous moth. This is the main menace of the book.

Due to his actions he gets both the city's government and the underworld after him, while he and his friends, a collection of artists, revolutionairies and other lowlife have to put an end to the menace of the moths..

As I said, while this is a long book, the pace doesn't slacken much, especially after the introduction of the main menace and all the players are introduced. The alien moths are well realised, seem to own somewhat to H. R. Giger's alien visions but are original enough not to be ripoffs.

Mieville has been inventive in creating this city and its inhabitants, making it believable and fresh at the same time. He doles out nuggets of info about the city every now and again, letting them fall neatly in the narrative, without resorting to infodumping.

All in all, I strongly recommend this book.

Webpage created 31-08-2001, last updated 10-12-2001
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