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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), New Crobuzon (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,612202571 (4.07)577
  1. 70
    City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer (bertilak)
  2. 50
    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. 21
    The Etched City by K. J. Bishop (Jarandel)
    Jarandel: Similar dark, steampunk-ish urban environments that sometime veer into the horrific and fantastical.
  6. 32
    Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany (aaronius)
    aaronius: Another dystopian dream-city to get lost in with weird sex and fantastic writing.
  7. 10
    This Alien Shore by C. S. Friedman (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For the world building, for the heft of the plot.
  8. 43
    Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (fyrefly98)
  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 577 mentions

English (199)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (202)
Showing 1-5 of 199 (next | show all)
This book has so much going on. There are non-human species, steam punk, magic, difference engines, sentient machines, flying man-birds, inter racial relations and so much more... It's almost too much!
A great city scape and world I really want to know more and see more.
The story moves OK it is a little slow at times and the descriptions and colour is wonderful. The city and politics and science dragged me in and I did enjoy the book.
Half of me wants to say it could do with a cut or reduction the other half wanted more and a longer story. I'll have to check out the next book.
I also am still not sure who the protagonist was... But I was interested in everyone.
So far China interests me as an author. ( )
  Ben_Harnwell | Apr 26, 2015 |
Yes, but Kindle.
  Xleptodactylous | Apr 7, 2015 |
China Mieville, Perdido Street Station (2000)

“Every intention, interaction, motivation, every colour, every body, every action and reaction, every piece of physical reality and the thoughts that it engendered, every connection made, every nuanced moment of history and potentiality, every toothache and flagstone, every emotion and birth and banknote, every possible thing ever is woven into that limitless, sprawling web.

It is without beginning or end. It is complex to a degree that humbles the mind. It is a work of such beauty that my soul wept...

..I have danced with the spider. I have cut a caper with the dancing mad god.”

Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin is a scientist; ineffective as a teacher, he leaves the academy to operate a (possibly illegal) consultant’s practice in a warehouse in the city of New Crobuzon. Along with the side-research that brings in his income, he is researching a controversial unified theory of the sciences that populate his research: thaumaturgy, or magic as practised by humans; watercraeft, or the ability to shape water, as practised by the amphibian vodyanoi species, and the laws of physics, chymistry, and biology. Grimnebulin, in the course of his murky consulting career, is approached by a garuda – a half-man, half-bird from the distant Cymek deserts, called Yagharek. Yagharek has been punished by his tribe for a crime he will not disclose – they cut off his wings. He has gold, and wants Grimnebulin to restore his flight. Meanwhile, across the city, Grimnebulin’s partner, Lin, is approached by an underworld mob boss, Mr Motley, to create a sculpture of him. Lin is a khepri: mostly human, but part scarab beetle, carrying an exoskeleton and wings, with a beetle in place of her head. She communicates through hand signals, and creates magnificent art by swallowing coloured berries and using a biological excretion to shape into sculptures.

Perdido Street Station is the story of how Grimnebulin’s research and Lin’s commission uncover the existence of massive flying slake-moths, that produce a drug (titled, rather awfully, dreamshit). Harnessed and controlled, these moths can be used to harvest the dreamshit. Left uncontrolled, the moths can mesmerise anything with consciousness by spreading their coloured wings, and then suck out their consciousness – all their thoughts and dreams, leaving nothing but an empty, breathing shell, behind. The moths feed relentlessly, threatening New Crobuzon’s inhabitants. It is left to Grimnebulin and Lin, their friend, the journalist Derkhan, and the garuda Yagharek, to find a way to stop them.

At the core, Perdido Street Station’s premise does not seem new: a complex city structure (like Gormenghast), a repressive, pervasive government (shades of Philip K Dick, from whom Mieville takes his epigrah), and multiple species coexisting. What makes his work extraordinary, however, are three things. First, the scale of Mieville’s undertaking is extraordinary. This is no novelette. Perdido Street Station is a massive work, creating and layering not only the history of a city, New Crobuzon, but the history of the species that inhabit it, their historical wars and traumas, their social networks and establishments. It is world-building on a scale that can only be described as expert and epic, and I thought it was extraordinary. Second, Mieville brings a second layer of complexity to the universe he creates by superimposing the lines of scientific debates over the disciplines he creates. Here too, are questions of morality: should the government be allowed to biologically “re-make” citizens as a punishment for their crimes? I am thinking of the most gruesome example he provides: a woman who killed her child is “Re-made” to have the child’s arms grafted to her face, so that she may never forget her crime. Crime, and its punishment, are threads that Mieville brings through this book, from a government that executes swift and violent control over workers striking for wages, to Yagharek’s crime and his tribe’s punishment of it, to ultimate, horrifying means that Grimnebulin uses in his attempt to stop the dream-moths. Third, Mieville adds to this a complex interrogation of crime, an examination of the human condition. Who are we, when our dreams have been sucked out of our core? What is humanity, if one has sentience but not consciousness? Beneath this all, beneath all of these complex creatures, human and xenian, crossing the city in their sentience and consciousness, Mieville places the complex Weavers, massive spider-like creatures, constantly weaving and repairing the web that holds the world together.

In addition to the themes and influences that underly Mieville’s story, I must also tell you that he does narrate a fantastic story. There are moments of nail-biting tension, chases along the murky New Crobuzon’s alleys, daring escapes and near-misses. This is a thoroughly gripping story, well-constructed and complex. If I have a criticism, it is only that his style can get mildly repetitive: the pervasiveness of New Crobuzon’s smell of ripe excrement is matched only by the pervasiveness of his descriptions of it. This may be intended to reinforce the point, but it does get vaguely annoying. I will confess, also, that I am conflicted about how the story ends: it left me uncomfortable. Perhaps this was the intention? I will also say, that while Mieville can tell a story, his prose, at points, is purely pedestrian, and what carries it through is the plot, not the narration. This is however, uneven, because he is at his best when describing this massive fictional city, that opens its arms (and aroma) to everyone, from the rebellious Grimnebulin and his secretive cross-species romance, to Lin and the colonies of sister-scarabs that she eschews, to Yagharek, the crippled half-garurda, to all manner of creatures. Magic and science, cactus-creatures and birds, humans and scarabs and water-beasts, here they are, all living and working and surviving, loving and rebelling. I found that marvellous.
2 vote reva8 | Mar 18, 2015 |
What is community but a means to...for all we individuals to have...our choices. Page 607

Isaac Grimnebulin is not your typical scientist, dealing with unorthodox, sometimes illegal experiments that others would claim was borderline science. His newest commission becomes an obsession of impossibilities. His client, a Garuda, a half-man, half-bird entity for reasons he is unwilling or perhaps unable to share has lost his wings and his ability to fly. His challenge for Isaac - help him reclaim the skies once again. While the Garuda is forced to be a prisoner of land, a new terror is upsetting the balance of life in New Crobuzon. Night after night, bodies are found still technically alive, but completely depleted of any form of intelligence, their souls extinguished. Isaac's research into giving the Garuda his freedom once again is intricately connected to these monsters of the air and time is running out to find solutions to both these problems, while the fate of New Crobuzon's citizens hang in the balance.

How do you definite a book that refuses to adhere to any labels? Perdido Street Station is a fascinating mixture of both fantasy and science fiction. Like a surreal dream, the world building is impressive to say the least, filled with creatures and species of various kinds, making New Crobuzon a melting pot of life and death, existing side by side. The characters, both main and supporting are completely strange and foreign and yet familiar at the same time, demonstrating the roles and structures of a society filled with its own customs and traditions. It takes patience to fully immerse yourself in this dark, gritty, queer, and completely off the beaten track world, but once you are in, it does not let you go. Mieville displays with a flourish his ability to take command of the written word and presents to the readers a story that is beyond definition, filled with inhuman monsters and creations, yet in the end telling a very human story. Highly recommended. ( )
2 vote jolerie | Mar 16, 2015 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 199 (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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:08 -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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