Jacob's Reviews > Perdido Street Station

Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
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's review
Jul 19, 14

it was amazing
bookshelves: i-own, sci-fi-fantasy-etc, mieville, 2007-2009
Read from February 10 to 20, 2007

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 furtive glances across the room, standing next to each other at the urinals, and nothing. Sod-all nothing. But enough imagery. True story: sometime during winter 2000/01, on my first-ever visit to a Barnes & Noble (a young farmboy remembers these things), I briefly looked at the cover of PSS, thought it pretty, read part ofa blurb, lost interest, and moved on. Seemed weird. Mind you, I was a wee eighth grader more into the ordinary, safe fantasies of Robert Jordan and Brian Jacques, so strange cities and xenians weren’t quite my cup of tea. Yet. Then, years later, spring 2005, after seeing an ad for The Etched City in Realms of Fantasy magazine, I checked it out, saw the blurb comparing it to Miéville, recognized the name, and decided on a whim to try out this book I’d been avoiding for years. So I read it. And I completely forgot about The Etched City.

And I’m not sure how else to say it. Thing is, after spending six years in junior high and high school reading mostly-forgettable drivel in sci-fi and fantasy, here was--hell, here was something new! No more of this Brave Young Farmboy, Good Versus Evil crap I’d read over and over before; Miéville had made a world and a city, peopled it with fantastic people and beings, and let ‘em rip. Granted, looking back at things, the story may not be great and flawless: the sudden U-turn from the wings-for-the-birdman story into the night of the slakemoths horror tale feels a bit jarring, but younger me didn’t notice or mind too much. I was just happy to be reading something different, something new and alien. Alien places, alien peoples, alien vocabulary (and you know you’ve been reading too much Miéville when you start reading the word unclear as unc-le-ar, and wonder what it means)--well, let’s face it: I should have read it years ago.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Brad Love the history of flirtation, Jacob, but dude "the sudden U-turn from the wings-for-the-birdman story into the night of the slakemoths horror tale" is gangbusters. That jarring moment was what made the tale, ultimately, for me. It was one of the rare times in my reading life when something took a genuine turn for the unexpected.

message 2: by Jacob (last edited Feb 11, 2011 10:17PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jacob You're right, you know. Honestly, I'm not sure why I wrote that bit ("Granted, looking back at things, the story may not be great and flawless..."), and I've never been entirely satisfied with this review anyway--the end, at least. It was a lazy last paragraph. Either it's time to reread Perdido and write a proper (more coherent) review--or I need to find a time machine so I can ask my 18-year-old self exactly what he (I?) felt about it the first time around.

If only the latter option was actually possible. I reread The City & the City last month (still need to post a few thoughts), Embassytown comes out in May, and I'll probably give Kraken a second try sometime before the end of the year, but I don't know how much Mieville I can handle. Weren't you reading Kraken? What happened to that?

Brad Yeah, I started the Kraken and was even liking it, but I only made it to around page 100 before abandoning it. And then I went almost 10 days without reading any book, which hasn't happened in probably over 20 years. I don't think Kraken was to blame, but more a victim of the malaise that messed up my book reading. I plan to go back to it again around the time Embassytown comes out. I was reading an article on Guardian last week that was suggesting their are rumors that Embassytown is going to be in serious contention for the Booker Prize this year. That would be one of the all time great shocks of the prize, even just getting on the short list would be a massive achievement for genre fiction.

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