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Perdido Street Station by China Miéville

Perdido Street Station (2000)

by China Miéville

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Bas-Lag (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,273None632 (4.07)501
Arthur C. Clarke Award (34) Bas-Lag (77) British (31) dark fantasy (49) dystopia (47) ebook (38) fantasy (949) fiction (632) horror (80) Hugo Nominee (23) Kindle (44) New Crobuzon (47) new weird (141) novel (91) own (26) paperback (28) read (94) science fiction (660) series (28) sf (155) sff (76) signed (42) speculative fiction (69) steampunk (420) to-read (175) unread (75) urban (24) urban fantasy (115) weird (30) weird fiction (38)
  1. 60
    City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer (bertilak)
  2. 41
    Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (fyrefly98)
  3. 30
    Embassytown by China Miéville (mclewe)
    mclewe: For Miéville's ability to create a complete world, incomprehensible, fascinating, intelligent.
  4. 20
    Iron Council by China Miéville (kaipakartik)
    kaipakartik: Same universe, a lot of the same creatures. Brilliantly done as well
  5. 86
    The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Although The Windup Girl is more science fiction than steampunk/fantasy, I felt there were similarities in the exoticness of the world-building and readers who enjoyed Perdido Street Station may also enjoy The Windup Girl.
  6. 10
    This Alien Shore by C. S. Friedman (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For the world building, for the heft of the plot.
  7. 32
    Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany (aaronius)
    aaronius: Another dystopian dream-city to get lost in with weird sex and fantastic writing.
  8. 11
    The Etched City by K. J. Bishop (Jarandel)
    Jarandel: Similar dark, steampunk-ish urban environments that sometime veer into the horrific and fantastical.
  9. 00
    Sea of Ghosts by Alan Campbell (iftyzaidi)
  10. 11
    God's War by Kameron Hurley (electronicmemory)
    electronicmemory: Two excellent examples of twisted, dark and brutal stories with unexpected sci-fi/fantasy elements and engrossing worlds.
  11. 02
    Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey (Aerrin99)
    Aerrin99: An interesting world filled with unexpected people.
  12. 13
    Earth by David Brin (freddlerabbit)

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» See also 501 mentions

English (183)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (186)
Showing 1-5 of 183 (next | show all)
Unless you’re reading this book as an anthropomorphized thesaurus, this will be a quick and somewhat easy read for you. If you’re not, you may struggle with a word here and there. While I’m not original in telling you that Mieville is a wordsmith, it should be somewhat of a disclaimer to anyone about to embark on their first Mieville experience.

This is the part where I’m supposed to give you a description of the plot but I started and stopped this section more times than I care to tell you. After perusing many reviews on here, I’ve discovered that many fellow readers have skipped this part as well - it’s just too difficult to give this book a standard summary. Mieville is throwing ideas and developments at the reader from all sides.

One thing I can state after finishing this novel:

Boy, was I wrong about Mieville.

The important thing to note is that the novel, while it creates captivating characters and intense situations, is more so about the city itself. The sprawling metropolis of New Crobuzon is front and center in this tale. The level of description is so extensive that I have a hard time believing that this place exists within the author’s head and his head only. The details themselves are so intricate that it almost feels like New Crobuzon must exist somewhere in physical form.

I will say that despite Mieville’s habit for the overly descriptive, I had a hard time envisioning Lin. I couldn’t quite understand a creature that had what seemed to be a fully functioning bug for a head. However, after seeking out an artist rendering, it didn’t really surprise me all that much. Despite creating a world rooted in fantasy, China crafts characters that seem real and relatable to the reader - I never felt like I had been taken out of the story at any point.

There is a scene about halfway through this book that is going to stick with me for quite some time. Without going into a whole lot of detail, it’s one of the more terrifying moments I’ve ever read. A character is about to die at the hands of a merciless monster, hunting for food. The way Mieville describes the events disturbed me deeply, unnerving me in a way I didn’t quite expect. I’ve read a lot of horror books and short stories that are intended to get this type of emotion out of the reader but nothing comes close to this.

I didn’t have all that great of an experience with The City & The City so I know that I eventually have to go back and revisit that one but I’ll save it until I’ve run out of everything else.
( )
  branimal | Apr 1, 2014 |
I finished this book several days ago but waited to write the review. I wasn't sure for a long time what I would say. I mean, I know I liked the story, the set up, the complexity, but there was also something a little off putting but I wasn't sure what that was. Then I broke down and looked at some of the other reviews to see if anyone else had the same sense that I did. I was very pleased to note that I wasn't the only one.
Like many of the other people who reviewed this book, I will not get caught up in enumerating the plot points. It would simply take too much time and it would never really convey the true sense of the book. It's like the old saying, "You had to be there."
Perdido Street Station is an enormous book in every way. China Mieville has written a book so layered, and rich, and sensual that I think that one of these days, I may need to go back and reread it to get the full effect. The prose is lovely and aged and yet not. The amalgamation of genres here, because I'm not sure I would call it steampunk (but then again, I am not the expert), is well executed. A blending of genres, in the way that Mieville has achieved, I imagine, is not something easily done, and I give him mad kudos for that. It works so well. PSS is fantasy and science fiction and drama and romance and steam and something unnameable all rolled into one. The effect is stunning.
Bas-Lag, the fictional world that Mieville creates in PSS is so richly and thoroughly conceived that I will have clear pictures of the places and people who lived there for a long time to come. Mieville's style of world building is complete and concrete with so much presence you can almost smell the stink of it. New Crobuzon, the city in which this story takes place is a dirty metropolis populated with many races (as in non-human) all with their own histories, customs, affectations, and physical characteristics.
Mieville does not pretty up any of the races either, by offering idealized fantastical elfin beings. He gives the reader a view of each of his racial creations, including humans, through the same brutally honest eyes. No one is spared inspection, no one is absolved of their own shame or glory. And through the muck of each person's weakness, beauty, and shame, Mieville has managed to weave an adventure, a mystery, bromance, romance, magical/science lore, and a quest.
I read every word of this book with a sense of writerly awe... and yet there was that off putting "thing", for lack of a better word. But I do know the word, now, after giving it a lot of thought.
VERBOSITY. Every reader is as different as every author, so I understand and appreciate Mieville's style here. That said, I tend more towards crisp spare prose. I don't need the author to guide me or convince me of how I should feel. I can make up my own mind. Just give me the bones, I'll imagine the flesh on my own. In this tale, and considering Mieville's story telling style, I see the necessity to embellish and paint, so I can accept much of the wordiness. But not all. I would have preferred to see this manuscript pared down by at least 1/4.
There is also the question of the profanity. Some people are okay with it. Some people even like it, thinking it lends a real or raw quality, I'd venture to say. But me? I find it repellent. More than that, I find it not necessary. Even more than that, I find it shocking. Profanity adds shock value, causes the reader to sit up, pay attention, in my case cringe a little, recognize that something big or deep or noteworthy is happening. In my estimation profanity is a device used to prop up weak prose. It is distracting and lame. Mieville's prose is absolutely breathtaking, even in all of its verbose glory, and totally DOES NOT require the multiple helpings of profanity in order to keep a reader's attention. Not mine, in any case.
Mieville uses a lot of "big" words. I think I read in another review that it is almost as if he had a thesaurus on hand as he wrote this. That works for me. I like Mieville's brave use of uncommon words. I don't believe in dumbing down prose. I think its okay to ask the reader to step up their game a little bit.
I vacillated about how many stars I wanted to give PSS. For the crafting of unique, varied cultures and races, the inventive use and blending of genres as well as language and style, and also for the central story I'd give PSS five stars any day of the week. But there is the matter of the profanity and verbosity (editor please!). All together I'm giving PSS 3 stars.
I'd likely still read Mieville again. As a reader I feel that Mieville did his job in rendering a compelling story. As a writer, I've learned tons from Mieville about writing fearlessly and about giving the imagination freedom to crank out what it wills. ( )
  khaalidah | Mar 14, 2014 |
Originally posted at Full of Words.

After reading Perdido Street Station, I can't decide what China Miéville loves more: feverish world-building or the sheer impenetrability of his prose, and I say that as someone who (occasionally) enjoyed the book. It took me a good six months to make it through that dense little tome, mostly because I only managed to read it in 30-50 page chunks about once or twice a month, and I have to admit that in the end I only finished out of sheer bloody-mindedness.

This was actually my second attempt at Perdido Street Station. I first bought it in 2003 and only made it about 50 pages in before putting it down for more than a decade. This time around, I gave it a bit more persistence, but it was never an easy book to pick up. Each of those 30-page sessions was hard-fought over the course of several hours, and I oftentimes found myself reading and re-reading passages just to make sure I'd fully comprehended their contents and meaning. I enjoyed many parts of the book, but I can't help feeling a certain amount of exhaustion and relief after struggling to finish it for so long.

In broad strokes, Perdido Street Station tells the story of Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin, inventor and disgraced academic, and what happens when a disfigured garuda – a sort of half-man, half-bird creature – named Yagharek comes to his laboratory in New Crobuzon and asks Isaac to help him fly again. Yagharek is flightless, his wings removed as part of a brutal judicial punishment, and he's travelled hundreds if not thousands of miles just to ask Isaac for his help. Yagharek's gold is plentiful and Isaac is in need of a patron, so he soon sets off on a quest to restore the garuda's flight. What Isaac does not know – cannot know – is that he will inadvertently set into motion a series of events that bring only nightmare, catastrophe and death to his city and everyone he knows and loves.

However, before the novel gets to the point where the plot kicks in, Miéville spends several hundred pages on setup, character development and a huge amount of world-building. If one of the characters visits a new neighborhood, Miéville includes a minimum of a few paragraphs describing how it looks, smells, sounds, pulses with life and interacts with the city around it. These passages are oftentimes beautiful, carefully drawn and incredibly dense, but over the course of the 600+ page novel, it becomes hard not to react with impatience when Miéville's attention strays yet again to the architecture of his imagined city.

The idea is, of course, that New Crobuzon is another character in the story, but the problem is that Miéville seems intent on including too much of everything; the kitchen sink, a few bathtubs and maybe a swimming pool for good measure. Every new neighborhood has enough detail to support an entire storyline, but Miéville barely takes a breath before introducing even more obscure and bizarre details. What seems magical and fascinating for maybe a hundred pages or so becomes overkill when it just keeps happening past the halfway point of the novel.

Also, it doesn't help that Miéville seems to delight in writing incredibly dense prose. I'm sure a large part of why I took so long to finish the book is that it felt like I was barely making any progress even though I would sit down and read for hours at a time. I was finally able to increase my pace a bit once the actual plot became clear, but at the same time I was a little disappointed to discover that all of Miéville's baroque wordplay leads up to a relatively straightforward man versus monster story.

Ultimately, Perdido Street Station was a difficult book that I respected and sometimes liked but can't help finding fault with as I think more about it. I'm glad I finally finished it so that I can mark it off my near-infinite list of unread books, but it will be a good long while before I pick up another one of Miéville's books. Of course, there are at least three others on my shelves, waiting for me to read them. ( )
  unsquare | Mar 3, 2014 |
Couldn't really find it in myself to care for the characters, although there's some clever writing in there. ( )
  ine1976 | Feb 6, 2014 |
PUtting this back on the shelf. I just couldn't get into it after about half the book. It just drags on and on
  lgwapnitsky | Feb 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 183 (next | show all)
Perdido Street Station is a well written and absorbing story aimed at breaking the rules for a number of different fantasy concepts.

» Add other authors (31 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Miéville, Chinaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
lee, johnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, EdwardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Villa, ElisaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'I even gave up, for a while, stopping by the window of the room to look out at the lights and deep, illuminated streets. That's a form of dying, that losing contact with the city like that.'

Philip K. Dick , We Can Build You
to Emma
First words
Veldt to scrub to fields to farms to these first tumbling houses that rise from the earth.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Do not combine with either Die Falter or Der Weber. Perdido Street Station was split into two volumes for publication in Germany.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345459407, Mass Market Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:48 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

In the squalid, gothic city of New Crobuzon, a mysterious half-human, half-bird stranger comes to Isaac, a gifted but eccentric scientist, with a request to help him fly, but Isaac's obsessive experiments and attempts to grant the request unleash a terrifying dark force on the entire city.… (more)

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