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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sprawling Steampunk Odyssey
Ah, China Mieville. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

After having read Mieville's collection of short stories my interest was sufficiently piqued to investigate his novels. Having read the synopses for all his books I decided this would be my best entry point for exploring China Mieville proper.

I was both right and wrong. This, the...
Published on 9 July 2010 by D. Laurikietis

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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading, but needs editing down by at least 200 pages.
That said, the dark, almost medieval atmosphere is conjured up most effectively and the idea of a world like our own, but gone strangely awry, is undoubtedly compelling. The inhabitants of the City have an understanding of "chymistry" and physics akin to that of a modern day alchemist and ally this with "thaumaturgical", i.e. limited magical or supernatural power, to...
Published on 19 Mar 2001 by J. Thompson


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sprawling Steampunk Odyssey, 9 July 2010
By 
D. Laurikietis "darkknight_uk" (North West England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Perdido Street Station (Paperback)
Ah, China Mieville. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

After having read Mieville's collection of short stories my interest was sufficiently piqued to investigate his novels. Having read the synopses for all his books I decided this would be my best entry point for exploring China Mieville proper.

I was both right and wrong. This, the first of the Bas-Lag series is not an easy read, in the same way that Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy is not an easy read. However, like Peake's idiosyncratic trilogy, Perdido Street Station is an instant classic and I can see why it has earned Mieville so many admirers in the world of fantasy fandom.

Good fantasy writers are able to create a believable alternate world. Excellent fantasy writers are able to create a believable and engaging fantasy world alive with cultures and politics. Mieville's world is populated by so many fascinating, bizarre and endlessly endearing peoples that it would be impossible to keep track of them were they not so beautifully realised. As the novel progresses we are intoduced to the insectile / humanoid Khepri, the Cacatae (human cactuses, the amphibious Vodyanoi, the cybernetic Construct Council and the avian Garuda as well as their religions, hisories, cultures, subcultures, countercultures (and yes, even drug cultures) in a way that is never dry or dull but always a dynamic part of the narrative.

For those who demand more than a diverse racial cast of players from their fantasy Perdido street station doesn't disappoint in the plot department either. Told from the point of view of Isaac, a good hearted but rough around the edges academic the story follows Isaac on an epic adventure precipitated by an unexpected visit from a mysterious stranger. This stranger, Yahgarek, is a Garuda who comes to Isaac with a simple proposition, to enable him to fly even though his wings have been severed (the harshest punishment possible for a Garuda reserved only for the foulest crime). Elsewhere his secret lover, a prodigious Khepri artist named Lin is comissioned to create a sculpted dopelganger for a gangster whose appearance so horribly and intricately malformed his appearance can only be insinuated by the author.

There is so much depth, richness and complexity to this book it would be a long winded travesty to try and recap it here. Suffice to say if a world ruled by a totalitarian government with a direct line to Hell, where scientifically explainable magic can co exist with steam powered robots floats your boat then this is for you!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fantastic..., 19 Nov 2008
By 
Mr. Jody Shelley "J Shelley" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Perdido Street Station (Paperback)
I purchased this book on the recommendation of a friend who had read it. I'd not heard of China Mieville and to be quite honest, had no real interest in the 'weird-fiction' genre. But, alas, I needed a change from the seemingly never ending work of Dean Koontz.

I ordered Perdido Street Station and, like the deep and impressionable person I am, immediately noticed the thickness of the thing...880 pages long. What in the he...? How could anyone, possibly keep me interested for nigh on 1000 pages? Never. Nah. Surely not?

Oh, how I was proven wrong.

This is by far one of the most unique and imaginative books I've read for a long time. The character development and imagery throughout is simply awesome, and you can only squirm at some of the 'pictureseque' portraits painted by Mieville of the city, New Crobuzon. It starts off a little slow, but as soon as you meet Isaac, you simply don't want to put the thing down...even when your eyes are feeling heavy at 1am in the morning.

I can't recommend this book enough. Even if you aren't a big of fan of science fiction/weird fiction, you simply have to taste this because it is simply, brilliant.

5 stars from me.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overwritten but bursting with ideas., 6 Nov 2002
This review is from: Perdido Street Station (Paperback)
In this excellent second novel, Mieville delivers on the potential hinted at in his first work 'King Rat'. Whilst 'Perdido Street Station' is very strong on characterisation and plot, its major achievement is the creation of a unique metropolis, which never fails to surprise and engage the reader.
Mieville is a true polymath, with an ingenious imagination and a formidable vocabulary. He seems able to write with authority on most subjects and weaves technical language and metaphors in to his work with ease. However, one of the greatest joys of this novel is its accessibility; the author uses his obvious intelligence to entertain rather than to impress. The result is an engaging, exciting and highly enjoyable read.
However, a valid criticism of this book is that it is overwritten. This becomes a serious nuisance towards the end of the book, when the highly descriptive prose slows down the plot instead of allowing the pace to pick up as the finale approaches. This loss of momentum caused me to lose interest at what should have been a critical point in the book.
Although this is a great novel, it is certainly not the best that this author can produce. The follow-up, set in the same world, is a far more accomplished novel and if you like 'Perdido Street Station' you will love 'The Scar'.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moments of brilliance but weak on character, 18 July 2011
By 
Joanne Sheppard "Being Obscure Clearly" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Perdido Street Station (Paperback)
This is the second novel by China Miéville I've read. The first was Kraken... which I loathed.

Why, then, did I read Perdido Street Station? Partly, I think, because a friend recommended it and assured me it wasn't awful. And partly because I actually want to like China Miéville. I didn't hate Kraken with glee. I hated it with immense disappointment.

Fortunately, Perdido Street Station is a hundred times better than Kraken. It has more heart, more warmth, more energy. I certainly don't think (unlike Miéville himself, apparently) that it bears any favourable comparison to the rich, languorous work of Mervyn Peake in all its shadowy beauty, but then I don't think anything does. Peake's prose seems effortless, as if Gormenghast and its inhabitants simply spilled themselves slowly on to the page like dark, bittersweet treacle, but there are many moments in Perdido Street Station where Miéville's words are contrived and self-conscious. While I could certainly lose myself for long periods in this engaging, original fantasy, I was regularly brought back down to earth by the overwhelming sensation that Miéville was jumping up and down in front of me shouting "Look at me! Look at my imagination! Look at my writing! LOOK!"

Broadly speaking, Perdido Street Station tells the story of maverick scientist Isaac, his artist lover Lin, who has a scarab beetle instead of a head, and Isaac's attempts to restore the power of flight to Yagharek, a sort of bird-man from a far-off desert whose wings have been sawn off as punishment for some terrible, unspecified crime. During the course of his experiments on various flying creatures, Isaac acquires through nefarious means a strange caterpillar. With the hatching of the caterpillar comes the unleashing of a terrible, almost apocalyptic threat to New Crobuzon, the huge, corrupt, festering city-state in which the story is set, teeming with human, 'xenian' - and as it turns out, artificial - life.

I found, however, that I wasn't immensely bothered about the novel's plot. Indeed, I enjoyed it more when nothing much was happening. I derived far more pleasure from the long digressions into the steampunk squalor of New Crobuzon and its bizarre inhabitants than I did from the action-packed climax. It was, oddly, the action-adventure towards the end of the novel that I found drawn-out and tiresome, not the rambling scene-building and vivid, intricate descriptions and vignettes that mostly make up the first three or four hundred pages. The real star of this baroque fantasy show is neither plot nor character, but New Crobuzon itself. For all its foulness, its filth, its brutality and betrayals, its uniquely capitalist horrors, I wanted New Crobuzon itself, above all, to survive. I could have gone on reading about New Crobuzon, and its strange, diverse inhabitants from cactus-people to amphibious dockers to the horrific artificially 'Remade' underclass, forever. The glorious names of the suburbs and side-streets and stations, too, all help to build the vivid sense of place.

Unfortunately, the characters just aren't that appealing. Isaac, who likes to bandy around words like 'moolah' and 'capice', is an irritating mockney, and the scenes in which he and Lin meet with their bohemian friends just made me think of a bunch of pretentious Hoxtonites. Maybe this was deliberate on Miéville's part, but it certainly didn't make me empathise with the characters in any way, and it was here that I saw strong echoes of the self-conscious hipster posing of Kraken. It's possible that the author wants us to dislike the characters so that there is an element of surprise in learning that these are the people who will be forced to save the city from destruction, so that they can be shown to grow and change, but for me, this wasn't a strategy that succeeded. There are a hundred wonderful things about Perdido Street Station, but I think Miéville is best when he's at his most meanderingly descriptive and conceptual, rather than trying to deliver action-adventure or character-driven storylines.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perdido Street Station, 3 May 2009
By 
Brian Lelas "laerfan" (Chapelizod, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Perdido Street Station (Paperback)
China Miéville's most famous novel, "Perdido Street Station" is a book so different from any other I've read that I find it hard to classify as science fiction or fantasy.

This fairly hefty paperback is almost as thick as it is wide, clocking in at over 850 pages of dense descriptive powerhouse writing. Miéville's strength is definitely in his descriptive prowess, something that he is guilty of overusing in this book, but easily the most charming and attractive aspect of the story.

To summarise the story, we are surrounded by a fairly complex weave of plots that all interlink at some point along the way. Most central to the story is that of Isaac dan der Grimnebulin, a scientist who is commissioned to return the power of flight to a paying customer, one Yagharek, who has had his wings removed for the crime of choice-theft of another. While researching various flying creatures, an unknown danger finds its way into his care and gradually develops into a city-wide threat. And from there, all other plots get dragged together into what can only be described as a continual surprise.

The world Miéville has created here is quite bizarre. The races of people in this world are incredibly unusual, ranging from the khepri, a race of women with insect bodies for heads, to the cactacae, a humanoid cactus species, and beyond. The visuals derived from Miéville's writing are often unclear, perhaps designed to confuse the mind, and are occassionally vile and even sickening to imagine.

The great strenghts of this book lie in its depth, it's characterisation and its ultimate end. To reach the end of this book unmoved would be a remarkable feat. It is absolutely worth the effort, though some may find it difficult to complete. The main weakness of the story is its pacing. Often there will be a highly anticipated event about to occur, but the reader is dragged into page after page of over-clarifying or over-description of what's happening around the plot. This tends to remove tension in some of the stronger scenes rather than enhance it. Occassionally you want to tell the author to "get on with it!" and get to the next plot development. That said, the overall feel of the world of Bas-Lag would probably be less impressive if we were not shown such microscopic detail.

What makes me want to recommend this book to people is its fresh approach to stroytelling. There are absurdities, over-the-top moments and characters and the odd scratch of the head, but there are also moments of great invention, serious moral dilemma and more often than not, something great to look forward to only pages ahead.

This is a "weird fiction" book, as described by the author, and while I can safely say that every reader will have a varying opinion on it, I'm sure the vast majority will love it.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading, but needs editing down by at least 200 pages., 19 Mar 2001
By 
J. Thompson (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Perdido Street Station (Paperback)
That said, the dark, almost medieval atmosphere is conjured up most effectively and the idea of a world like our own, but gone strangely awry, is undoubtedly compelling. The inhabitants of the City have an understanding of "chymistry" and physics akin to that of a modern day alchemist and ally this with "thaumaturgical", i.e. limited magical or supernatural power, to achieve their idiosyncratic technology. This peculiarly employed and strangely dated technology, and the cumbersome ways of achieving many of the things we take for granted, are intriguing. Mieville has also come up with some inspired life forms to populate his city: the Kephri and Weaver are particularly evocative. The man sized Garuda are also an interesting development of a classic myth and restoring flight to one who has lost his wings is a central theme in the book. However,how do you get past the old schoolboy problem of angels: where are the muscles to power their wings and how can all that weight ever be lifted?. That may be a bit pernickety, the real flaw is that the ideas in the book are over stretched. Far, far too much space is devoted to constant reference to places: it is intrusive and completely unnecessary. The map at the beginning is a bit of a giveaway and re-affirms my suspicion of any science fiction book that needs such a detailed geographic map to guide the reader. Places and scenery should be generated by, and flow naturally from, the passage of the characters through the narrative, as they do in a "Snowcrash" for example. The topography should be secondary, rather than dominant, yet one feels that for Mieville the map and the names and the rail lines are an end in themselves! Many readers are going to find themselves skipping over repetitive and superfluous descriptive passages. The book would be a far better one if less rein were given to this grandiose world designing and the plot was allowed to flow a little better. Perhaps Perdido is intended to be the setting for a series of novels; if so, maybe the plot and the characters should be allowed more space on the stage and less time and room be devoted to the backdrops.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not even close to a masterpiece, 11 Jun 2012
This review is from: Perdido Street Station (Paperback)
I'm sad to say that I am going to have to add to the list of naysayers on this one.
Far too long, some issues with technique and a couple of plot holes.
There are clearly many ideas in here, but I dont feel that many of them were done justice in the end. I would advise anyone to read city and the city instead, taut and much more disciplined IMHO.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read, 13 Oct 2011
This review is from: Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon 1) (Paperback)
This was the first Mieville I read following a recommendation. It was incredibly good. He has an astonishing imagination and it was difficult to put the book down. After reading this, I went straight to the next New Crobuzon book (the Scar) and it too was great. Reminds me of my pleasure at discovering the Iain M Banks books with the Player of Games. Thoroughly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Fantasy, 21 Feb 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Perdido Street Station (Paperback)
It's huge, and its beautiful in a strange dark sort of way and reads like an Heironymous Bosch painting put into words...
This incredible. fabulous fantasy tale is set in New Crobuzon. The sprawling metropolis who's skyline is dominated by the building that give the book its name, Perdido Street Station.
We begin the story on the polluted river Tar, as a stranger enters the vast industrial city. The stranger is Yagharek, a Garuda. A huge birdlike creature, who as a punishment for a dreadful crime, has had his wings removed and has travelled from the dessert with a purse full of gold to seek the help of Scientist Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin to have his wings restored.
This is the story of Grimnebulin's quest to help the Garuda, and he and his assorted friend's subsequent attempt to defeat the evil he inadvertently releases while doing so. Evil so strong, that the City's militia are useless and the hell demons consulted by the corrupt rulers of New Crobuzon are afraid to help.
New Crobuzon's population is as grotesque as it is marvellous. Among its strange inhabitants are Lin, Grimnebulin's Kephri Artist lover with the human body and scarab head, who makes marvellous pearl coloured sculptures with a secretion from the back of her head and the biomagically made "Remade". Altered as a cruel punishment for wrongdoing, these once human creatures can be partly mechanical, partly animal but either way wholly horrific.
This book is very probably one of the best I have ever read and one that is almost impossible to put down. At 710 pages it's not a book that's for light reading... It's intricate and absorbing. Set against an intriguing industrial gothic background filled with weird science, which Mieville has blended seamlessly with magic to produce something that will feed your imagination for years to come and leave you desperately wanting more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite read ever?, 5 Dec 2003
By 
Mr. N. J. Hickman (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Perdido Street Station (Paperback)
This book was bought for me by my dad one CHristmas, a few months after it came out. I was slightly weary of it, as my dad had said he had found it difficult to get into, and me and him usually have similar book-tastes.
All i can say is that i am so glad i gave the book the benefit of the doubt. THis is probably my favourite novel ever! the City of NEW Crobuzon is literally alive,and the immensly deep descriptions which put off some only empahsized Mievilles amazing writing style for me.His characters develop fantastically throughout the book, and with their development we are left many morals for real-life which simply don't exist in other books.
All in all this is an AMAZING book, and i highly reccomend it to anyone who is looking for a refreshing new direction for sci-fi/fantasy, away from all the Elves and Secret Agents.
Also see The Scar, the sequel to Perdido Street Station. anaother fantastic book from Mieville. This author has a bright future ahead of him.
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Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon 1)
Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon 1) by China Mieville (Paperback - 6 May 2011)
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