Andrew's Reviews > Perdido Street Station

Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
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it was amazing
bookshelves: reviewed

China is one of my new geek heroes—along with Brian Eno and Alberto Manguel—for several reasons. First, China is a fellow devotee of the great H.P. Lovecraft, but his work rises so far beyond simple pastiche that it seems almost revolutionary—an exquisite mix of Lovecraft, steampunk and deep world-building. Second, let’s talk about that world-building: I read an interview with China where he described his technique as something close to gaming; wherein he assigns attributes to characters and makes maps and designs systems. Third—even though I don’t share his politics—he is a vocal Marxist—it’s just refreshing to read genre fiction that’s so thoroughly informed by a political worldview that also completely resists devolving into didacticism. Lastly, he is almost single-handled responsible for the emergence of the wonderful New Weird subgenre. PSS is the perfect representation of the disparate elements of China’s approach to fiction. It’s a lushly rendered urban dreamscape full of monsters living side-by-side with common humanity. China’s fictional city-state of New Crobuzon feels so real you can almost taste the soot in the air. A subtext of transformation runs throughout the book—personal, political and genetic—that is expressed in a variety of literal and metaphoric ways. If PSS is about any one thing it might be expressed as: change is painful but necessary…or at least inevitable. China’s remade, particularly the monstrous, Lovecraftian bad guy of PSS, serve, in part, as metaphors for the way cities are continuously re-imagined by new immigrants. New Crobuzon and its inhabitants constantly roil, merging and parting facets of each other—like all of China’s fiction with its wild and weird influences and antecedents.

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