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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
6,512197587 (4.07)550
  1. 70
    City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer (bertilak)
  2. 40
    Embassytown by China Miéville (mclewe)
    mclewe: For Miéville's ability to create a complete world, incomprehensible, fascinating, intelligent.
  3. 20
    Iron Council by China Miéville (kaipakartik)
    kaipakartik: Same universe, a lot of the same creatures. Brilliantly done as well
  4. 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.
  5. 32
    Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany (aaronius)
    aaronius: Another dystopian dream-city to get lost in with weird sex and fantastic writing.
  6. 10
    This Alien Shore by C. S. Friedman (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For the world building, for the heft of the plot.
  7. 43
    Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (fyrefly98)
  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. 13
    Earth by David Brin (freddlerabbit)
  12. 02
    Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey (Aerrin99)
    Aerrin99: An interesting world filled with unexpected people.

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» See also 550 mentions

English (195)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (198)
Showing 1-5 of 195 (next | show all)
This is really an amazing piece of work. The world that China Mieville creates is enormously intricate and very detailed. It may not be pretty, but it is described in such a way that the city of New Crobuzon comes alive around you and you can admire it in all its grotesque grandness. I am not the kind of reader who usually cares about the language, as long as it doesn't distract me from the story. In this case though, it is almost impossible not to notice the poetry of some of the descriptions, and it is one of the few times that this didn't bother me. The different races that Mieville creates, along with their extensive backstory are wondrous. The two main characters, Isaac and Lin (human and khepri) hold the attention, even though in the beginning there is not a lot of action. Still, the scientific research of the one and the art of the other kept me occupied and fascinated.
One of the beautiful things about Perdido street station is that the characters are not heroes, and they are in classical fantasy. They are normal human beings (or non-human beings) who respond quite realistically. They have a huge problem to solve, and in the end, they do not emerge unscathed. Several of the characters are morally ambiguous. The book is very realistic in showing that just because someone does something good, it doesn't mean they always have or always will. In the end, life continues, with new scars, despite adventures and mad dashing through cities. I absolutely love this book, and during the first half, it was heading towards a five-star rating. However, despite all of its beauty, there were also quite a few pieces that threw me out of the story. Little bits and pieces of descriptions and side streets that distracted me from the main thoroughfare. The book is not a fast read to begin with and this didn't help. I revised my rating to four stars, but with the ending so beautifully done (I cannot help but love the Weaver. And that is a feat, making me love a huge spiderlike creature), I'll up it to 4.5. ( )
  zjakkelien | Feb 15, 2015 |
Didn't particularly like. Rich, inventive world of grotesquely abundant adjective. ( )
  ternary | Feb 14, 2015 |
A nice bunch of multidimensional steampunk. ( )
  harmen | Jan 20, 2015 |
Another great book. Tropes and archetypes are turned on their heads. The aliens are strange, but far from the strangest things in the novel. Beautiful writing, gripping action, three dimensional characters. This one has it all. An impressive, heart-wrenching book. ( )
  bibliogypsy1127 | Jan 4, 2015 |
Compared to most fantasy books (and I guess I'll define that genre as "books where magic is a thing that people are aware of") Perdido Street Station is a step up, maybe two. It deals with characters that aren't just archetypes, and those characters express emotions that are more nuanced than the usual melodramatic fare. The plot is likewise not your typical chosen one/epic war story, though still heavy with action and set pieces, and it goes in a couple unexpected directions toward the end. I'll applaud any fantasy story that both does something unexpected and is solidly written. If I were grading it on a fantasy book curve it'd be at least 4 stars, perhaps better, and if you're a fan of the genre definitely check it out.

There are several things that keep me from finding Perdido impressive without comparison to the genre at large, however. The setting is likely the highpoint to the book for many people, and it certainly is impressive, giving us a city with a plethora of differing neighborhoods, most of which with a distinctive and memorable flavor, populated by a menagerie of creatures. Unfortunately it never felt like a cohesive location to me because of Mieville's tendency to throw in new aspects of the world without any warning, even late into the story. The book starts by setting out the various "common" types of inhabitants of the city, but as the story goes on Mieville drops in demons, then weavers, then sentient robots, handlingers, undine, and more. The handlingers are the most extreme and problematic example of this- while the book tells us there have been rumors about their existence, it only tells us that after they've already been introduced. Thus instead of foreshadowing their eventual appearance they come out of the blue. Then they appear for a few chapters before being dispatched and not mentioned again for the rest of the story. It's a strange episode that doesn't feel integrated with the rest of the book, or even purposeful besides giving us one more action sequence and emphasizing the danger of an enemy we already knew was dangerous from a dozen previous examples. I'd guess that this was a symptom of Perdido being one of Mieville's first books, with him still getting comfortable with a longer medium instead of a short story.

Another problem I had with the book is the dialogue. As I already mentioned, Mieville is able to get at emotions better than most fantasy authors, but that's more thanks to his ability to put characters into realistic relationships and naturally tense situations and less to do with him being able to capture a realistic conversation. The main character Isaac, for instance, is presented as a brilliant scientist and proves himself to be one, but when he's talking to other characters he always sounds like more of a con-man than someone who actually knows what he's talking about. Having read later Mieville like Kraken, I can unfortunately say that the weak dialogue wasn't just due to Perdido being one of his first longer works of fiction.

Originally I also had a problem with how so much of the story relied on coincidence, as that's usually a sign of weak storytelling in my book, but the ending made me think that it might have been intentional on Mieville's part. Considering the end focusing on choice and its moral repercussions, and the judgment that such choices deserve, it put the action up to that point in an entirely different light. Because Yagharek committed rape (and thereby denying another person choice) Isaac refused to help him regain his flight, even with all that Yagharek had done throughout the course of the story in Isaac's fight against the Slake moths, because Isaac couldn't justify implicitly condoning Yagharek's previous actions. Though much less severe and with a more tenuous causal connection, however, Isaac caused even more harm than Yagharek. He was the one that got people to steal flying things for him, one of which he raised on a diet of drugs until it escaped and freed others of its kind, killing hundreds in the end. His lover accepted the money of a crime lord even though she knew at least vaguely what she might be getting into. Do those choices mean that they somehow deserve what they had to go through? And if not then to what degree are they different from Yagharek's actions? The obvious answer is foreseeability, but as the coincidence based plot of Perdido shows, the consequences of any act in New Crobuzon, from repairing a cleaning robot to publishing a news story you think is fake, can be entirely unforeseeable. Anyway, it made me think, which isn't something many fantasy books accomplish. Even if it wasn't intentional, the coincidence based nature of the story fits into some interesting ideas that Mieville introduces at the eleventh hour.

My other complaints are minor. The book was longer than it had to be, mostly due to the unnecessary episodes I've already mentioned, and so it could have been tighter. One of the main antagonists disappears from the story for maybe two hundred pages, to the point where you wonder if he's even important anymore. Crisis energy is a deus ex machina and far too much time is spent on Isaac talking about fake science. The title isn't very good. These complaints aren't that important. Nevertheless, they contribute to the reason why at the end of the day I only consider the book pretty good, and not any better than that. Again, if you like the genre, then definitely check it out. ( )
1 vote BayardUS | Dec 10, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 195 (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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