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Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon #1)

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  31,713 ratings  ·  2,801 reviews
New Crobuzon is a squalid city where humans, Re-mades, and arcane races live in perpetual fear of Parliament and its brutal militia. Isaac, a brilliant scientist, is asked by a bird-man Garuda to restore his power of flight. But one lab specimen threatens the whole city. A vividly colored caterpillar eating a hallucinatory drug grows in order to consume all.
Paperback, 623 pages
Published July 29th 2003 by Del Rey (first published March 10th 2000)
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Sarah Christopherson There are a few more disturbing visceral moments, but most of them are toward the end. It's been a bit since I read it, but if you could handle the…moreThere are a few more disturbing visceral moments, but most of them are toward the end. It's been a bit since I read it, but if you could handle the aftermath of the first escaped moth then you should be fine. If that level of queasy makes you too uncomfortable then this is probably not the right book for you.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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To paraphrase Pratchett, "There's a saying that all roads lead to Ankh-Morpork New Crobuzon. And it's wrong. All roads lead away from Ankh-Morpork New Crobuzon, but sometimes people walk along them the wrong way."

(A stunning image of New Crobuzon from

A word of warning: if you read only for the story and plot, this book is not for you. Yes, there is an interesting storyline with mystery and danger and love and betrayal - but it is neither the strength nor the focus of Perd...more
Lots of people like to accuse China Miéville of writing with a thesaurus open next to his laptop. How else to explain the frequent appearance of "ossified," "salubrious," "susurrus" and "inveigled" within the 623 pages of Perdido Street Station? Ok, so you can maybe argue that if you write a 250,000 word book, probably less than six of those words should be "palimpsest," but really, I just think he's a smart guy who carefully controls his prose.

So the language in The City & The City is strip...more
This Steampunk meets New Weird meets Cyberpunk meets Fantasy novel has so many themes, that I'm not even going to try to give it full credit with some sort of synopsis. I'm rather just going to talk about various aspects of the book as I go along with my review.

The way I felt when I finished the novel, I wanted to give it 7 stars. For a few reasons, I'm having second thoughts.

Let me start off the bat with some aspects that niggled me.

Firstly, certain aspects of the world-building:
Mieville used...more
WARNING: This review probably contains some (but not many) spoilers, so you may not want to read this if you haven’t read Perdido Street Station yet. This review also contains plenty of vulgarity. Please don't read this if you do not want to see the "f" and other words. Thanks.

Me reading my review: I decided to read this on SoundCloud, since BirdBrian has turned me into a recorded voice madman. You can listen right here if you'd like.

I fucking hate moths.

Seriously. I hate them. They freak me ou...more
My friends call me Senex ('The Old Man') because of my taste in fantasy, or they would, if I had any. It's often been noted that I'll give at least four stars to any fantasy from the Italian Renaissance, and yet rarely give more than two for anything written since the nineteen-sixties. Some have accused me of a staunch prejudice in period, but lo! it is not so.

I really love the fantasy genre, but the corollary of this is that I hate most fantasy books, because of how they mistreat that which I l...more
mark monday
my dear Perdido Street Station,

perhaps it is fated not to be. or perhaps i need to grow a bit more, until i am able to understand and appreciate your unique charms. but for now, i am just not ready. please don't take this personally - i promise that i shall try you out again sometime, perhaps soon. too many people love you, and they love you too, too much for me to give up on you altogether.

i will admit that my first impression was off-putting - the way you talked and gestured and sought attent
I feel like I've been reading this book forever. It's long, largely unstructured, and I never became particularly invested in any of the characters, so it just dragged on. The best thing I could say about it is that it's diverting. One of the quotes on the back describes it as "phantasmagoric," which seems accurate. All sorts of crazy random things, soul-devouring moth creatures, interdimensional homicidal spiders, creative reconstructive surgery as state punishment. That's all amusing to a degr...more
I'm not feeling overly inspired to review this book. I was. At first. At around the 300 page mark, still riveted by the world that Miéville created, I started feverishly composing what would have been... what could have been...

I researched Miéville's background and was prepared to tell you all about his growing up in a lower-class household with just his mum and his sister, but that he was super smart and won scholarships to all the best schools. I was going to tell you about his love for role-...more
Ian Paganus de Fish
I Love You, I Love You, I Love You

For the fortnight it took me to read this novel, I was in another world and I was in love.

Perhaps, now, I’ll retreat from that world and substitute another or others (or perhaps even return to my own world), but I will remain in love.

Is this a fantasy love or is it real? I think it’s real.

After all, is there any love that is not partly a product of your own mind?

How can a writer make this happen? How can a reader experience this? How can a person experience it i...more
David Sven
What did I just read?! This book is crazy. Mievelle’s imagination is insane.

What is Perdido Street Station? Is it fantasy, is it sci-fi, or is it just outright weird fiction? It’s a little hard to explain but I’ll give it a shot.

The story is set in a totally made up universe in the city state of New Crobuzon. The setting could loosely be described as steampunk with an early industrial era feel, dirty, dank, corrupt, with a dictatorship for government and an underworld that rules the streets. Tec...more
Simply extraordinary.

Let's get this out of the way: yes, Mieville likes to get his vocab on. But I don't think it's out of pretension or apprehension (I've seen both suggested in reviews on this site). Mieville's using the language to draw you in to a world that is like ours, but slightly different— a dark, morbid, fantastical dystopia that's something like the dirty lovechild of Edward Gorey, Jules Verne and Charles Dickens. It's a dirty, lowdown, steam-age-with-magic setting that is immediatel...more
One of the most impressive feats of imagination you'll ever experience. And definitely worth the read on, at the very least, those grounds.

Perdido Street Station

When Yagharek the garuda loses his wings, all roads lead to the vile, diseased, necrotic city called New Crobuzon. And to Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin, the fringe scientist who may be his only hope of one day flying again. But in the course of his research into flight, Isaac unwittingly unleashes a terrible force on New Crobuzon, a force f...more

Overall, four stars for the wonderfully weird Perdido Street Station.

I say 'overall’ because the book was a bit of a mixed bag.

three star bits

I didn’t recognise a large percentage of the words in the text. This made me feel edgy and insecure. My reading was repeatedly halted as I reached for the dictionary to look up beauties such as prestidigitation, curmudgeon, bathetic, palimpsest and opprobrious. The book also prompted a huffy sulk. My husband (who is far too smart for his own good) pointe...more
Oct 23, 2009 Ryan rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of steampunk
Recommended to Ryan by:
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Miéville strikes me as the type of author who has weird and fantastical dreams that all too easily dip into nightmares and back again, undergoing a number of cycles in a single night. Dreams that he can't help writing down to share with the rest of us. If this isn't the case, it makes the force of his imagination all the more impressive.

Streetways, devils, computing devices, insects, all merge and mutate and flesh themselves together in a riotous dance that both encircles and entraps the city of...more
Scribble Orca

Nope. Sorry.

A few decades ago when Mr Mieville was traipsing around foreign climes for a year I'd have been prostrating myself at the temple of his wizardry had he written this book then. I never had a problem in those heady daze with Robert Heinlein et al, so I hardly think I'd have failed to make room in my literary bed for good ol' China.

Let's just say I've arrived at the party a little too late. He's innovative rather than inventive, he's concocted a christmas cake of the fantasmagorical and...more
When we’ve turned this world into a dried up husk and have to resort to shutting ourselves in to life sustaining pods and “living” within some sort of virtual environment, I vote we nominate this guy to imagine and design our virtual realities. Sure, we’ll probably end up with some weird shit, like fire breathing iguana flowers and pulsating organic clouds that rain mucus and blood (he won’t be able to help himself) but we’ll get the most detailed, complete, panoramic world, and I can guarantee...more
Nandakishore Varma
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Others seem to have found PSS's world to have been fleshed out well; I thought it was implausible. No one knows what lies beyond certain parts of the world... and someone still found it necessary to invent trains. There's at least one huge city... but how there's enough food to go around is anyone's guess.

Mieville never writes five words when eighty will do, and his editor must have been asleep at the switch: I'd love to see an adjective count of this book. There are some genre-bending tricks a...more
I admit to being a bit inured to the "new weird". In fact, I'd say the new weird . . . is getting old. Strangeness for the sake of strangeness has lost a bit of its luster. I've read, and written, plenty of fiction in this vein. That's not to say that it's atrophied in my mind - I still appreciate the bizarre, but some of it has become so self-referential as to be an inadvertent pastiche of itself. The same can be said of the "steampunk" ouvre. I've argued before that the entirety of the steampu...more
It is clear that China Miéville is an exceptionally inventive writer. The steam-punk/fantasy world of the city-state New Crobuzon is an extraordinary creation. The world is populated with many sentient species and ethnicities—each with different needs and agendas—all enduring the dominance of a corrupt and incompetent human police state that oppresses and exploits most of even the human population. The varieties of creatures, monsters, and technologies are fascinating. The plot twists and charac...more
Jul 11, 2011 Lee rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: fantasy
My first Goodreads review.

Story: 3/5
1: Being Vague, rambling plot with no little believable storyline
5: Ripping yarn. Clever, thought provoking

The story is based in a sordid police state world. Where medical advancements have bizarrely evolved yet weaponry remains in the 1700's. It is a dark and dirty setting that reminded me of Neverwhere. Unfortunately Mieville needs you to completely picture this world in your head, to a degree that is utterly frustrating at first. A description of an event...more
Ruby  Tombstone [Uncensored or Else]
Honestly, I don't even know where to start with this review. I really don't even want to write it, because every minute spent doing this is time spent away from the world of Bas-Lag. Mieville's world-building is astonishingly good and very easy to become instantly immersed in.

For once, the comparisons to other writers are spot-on. There are parts of this book that are not only like Mervyn Peake, but could have easily been written by Peake himself. The vivid surreal imagery, and urban
This book has Killer Robot Chimpanzees. (I'm not sure how I forgot to mention them the first time around.) If that's not enough for you, read on...

I have to say I really liked this book. Once I got into the story (not an easy thing to do) I really disappeared into the world of Bas-Lag every time I picked up the book. The world was complex, dank, dreary, alive, mystical and fascinating. I don't think I've ever read a book that sat comfortably balanced on that delicate precipice between fantasy an...more
6.0 Stars. This book has newly joined the ranks as one of my all-time favorite novels and China Mieville has instantly become one of my favorite authors. This was my first novel by Mieville and I was absolutely blown away by both the world he created and his supurb descriptions of that amazing world. In really good fantasy and science fiction books it is not uncommon to have one or two really cool concepts or unusual takes on existing standards. This book had more of them then I could count. The...more
I've read three other Mievilles before this, and they were 2*, 4*, and 5*.

I'm so pleased this was another 5*. What a wonderful, rich, steampunky, fantastical phantasmagoria this is.


It opens with one of several short, first-person impressions: a newcomer arriving by boat at night. He’s wealthy but anguished, and the boatman fears him.

The story then opens in New Crobuzon: an ancient city (some houses nearly 1000 years old) inhabited by many exotic sentient species. We meet Lin, a khepri (inse...more
Perdido Street Station is gritty, urban fantasy with some sci-fi and horror elements. The characters are extremely well-drawn and memorable. The writing is very descriptive and some readers find it starts slow, though I was immediately absorbed into the world Mieville created and had a difficult time putting the book down. It is not a quick and easy read. It is more like a rich dessert meant to be savored.
While reading Perdido Street Station (PSS), I came across this benign little conversation from Great Expectations:
"Moths, and all sorts of ugly creatures," replied Estella, with a glance towards him, "hover about a lighted candle. Can the candle help it?"
"No," I returned; "but cannot the Estella help it?"
"Well!" said she, laughing, after a moment, "perhaps. Yes. Anything you like."

So, is this candle the beacon?
PSS is a journey. An arduous, olfactory, insectan, long-winded journey through an o...more
Congratulations China Miéville, this is officially the weirdest book I have read this year. Not only was it weird, but I actually liked it too! Which may or may not be saying something.

I loved the writing style of this book. Miéville has an astounding command of the English language. I liked the prose probably more than I liked the actual story. I fully intend on looking into other works by this author, since this is my first time reading anything by him. If anyone wants to recommend anything i...more
June 2009

It’s been a while since I last read this one, and I still haven’t properly reviewed it. Chalk it up to forgetfulness on my part, but also some reluctance: although Perdido Street Station may not be my favorite of the Bas-lag books, it still holds a special place in my heart, and for some reason I can’t quite find the right words to capture it.

See, PSS and I had this little flirtation go on for years before I worked up the stones to read it. We kept meeting at parties, exchanging furtiv...more
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A British "fantastic fiction" writer. He is fond of describing his work as "weird fiction" (after early 20th century pulp and horror writers such as H. P. Lovecraft), and belongs to a loose group of writers sometimes called New Weird who consciously attempt to move fantasy away from commercial, genre clichés of Tolkien epigons. He is also active in left-wing politics as a member of the Socialist W...more
More about China Miéville...
The City & the City The Scar (Bas-Lag, #2) Embassytown Kraken Un Lun Dun

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“Art is something you choose to make... it's a bringing together of... of everything around you into something that makes you more human, more khepri, whatever. More of a person.” 34 likes
“Old stories would tell how Weavers would kill each other over aesthetic disagreements, such as whether it was prettier to destroy an army of a thousand men or to leave it be, or whether a particular dandelion should or should not be plucked. For a Weaver, to think was to think aesthetically. To act--to Weave--was to bring about more pleasing patterns. They did not eat physical food: they seemed to subsist on the appreciation of beauty.” 31 likes
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