Robert Beveridge's Reviews > Perdido Street Station

Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
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's review
Jan 23, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: finished, owned-and-still-own, best-i-read-2003-edition, favorites
Read in May, 2003

China Mieville, Perdido Street Station (Del Rey, 2000)

Mieville has created a monster with this novel, a beautifully dystopian science fiction setting quite unlike any other I've ever encountered. The world of New Crobuzon is populated by many strange and exotic races (humans among them, of course), and it radiates outwards from the train station of the title, constantly expanding, sprawling out into the countryside from beneath the ribs of some giant, long-extinct creature.

To go into the plot at all would require a number of spoilers, as it twists and turns its way through this gargantuan masterpiece and spawns new threads on a fairly constant basis. But the novel begins and ends with two characters: Isaac, a brilliant, somewhat mad, scientist who keeps himself in equipment by contracting to (and stealing from) the university he left a decade before, and Yagharek, a garuda (woughly, a bird-man) from the Cymek desert, thousands of miles away. Yagharek comes to Isaac in disgrace, having had his wings stripped from him for crimes committed in his own country, and asks Isaac to find some method of getting him to fly again. Now if that were the whole novel, it would probably be somewhat boring (though Mieville can write like a big dog, and could probably have pulled it off). But there is much more to it, pulling in multiple levels of drawing-room drama, automatons that think for themselves, some very nasty beasts, New Crobuzonian history, and much more.

Mieville handles the whole thing with the most deft of hands, and never allows the book to get away from him. His attention to detail is stunning, especially in a twentysomething writer who's onto just his second novel. No threads are left untied, and in some situations where he has a choice of knots, he never takes the emotionally or intellectually easy way out, giving the book a sense of moral and ethical rightness that's lacking in most modern fiction.

A wonderful book that will easily make my ten best reads this year. *****
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