This story collection was the first China Mieville book I read and it very nearly prevented me from moving on to his other work. It's not a bad book, just not a particularly strong one. Like most of the other reviewers, I loved the longest piece here, "The Tain", which combines a strong concept with a gripping, action-packed narrative. The others, however, are a very mixed bag. Some of the ideas are good and the prose is strong but the overall impression is of a writer trying just a tad too hard to be weird, trying just a bit too hard to be down with the cool kids. "Jack" makes no sense unless you've read "Perdido Street Station", and the graphic story is virtually incomprehensible.
Without a friend urging me to read "Perdido Street Station", this book would have left me with the impression of another over-hyped young writer, all style and no substance, and I wouldn't have looked at another Mieville book. Luckily, my friend's persistence paid off, and having read "Perdido Streen Station" and "The Scar" it's now obvious that Mieville is an exceptionally talented writer, with an almost unique combination of imaginative power and humane ethical concerns.
At least one other reviewer also had this as his first Mieville book, and he loved it, which is fair enough, but for this reader, the Bas-Lag novels, though they look forbiddingly long, give a much more consistent impression of Mieville's strengths and are less prone to the style-over-substance issues that crop up here. Turns out "The Tain" was representative and the other stuff was atypical. So you pays your money, you takes your choice, but I'd recommend you takes another choice first, and that choice can be found by rearranging the following words to make a well-known phrase or saying: Station, Street, Perdido.