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on 16 May 2016
A long book which takes the reader into an industrial, magical, yet depressing world of coexisting and dangerous species. It's well written and edited.
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on 10 January 2015
China has produced an exotic fantasy story that is enthralling and engaging in equal measure, a must read.
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on 14 December 2015
as promised
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VINE VOICEon 12 February 2017
Perdido Street Station is the main railway station in the city state of New Crobuzon, a vast sprawling metropolis that house humans, wyrmen (small flying creatures with a basic sense of humour and tendency to poo on everything), khepri (women with human bodies and the heads of insects), cactacae (essentially sentient cactuses), vodyanoi (water based creatures), gardua (feathered creatures with the ability to fly) and various other weird and wonderful creatures and hybrids.

Isaac (a human scientist) and Lin (a khepri artist) are lovers who live in the city but who must keep their relationship secret because interspecies romances are frowned on and could see Isaac lose his (already precarious) University backing. One day a gardua called Yagharek arrives in Isaac’s laboratory. Having lost his wings as punishment for an unspecified crime, he wants Isaac to find a way for him to fly again and he has a large amount of gold to help pay for it. Seeing a way to further his own research, Isaac agrees and unwittingly the two set off a chain of events that pose the most deadly of threats to themselves, those they love and all of New Crobuzon’s inhabitants …

China Mieville’s fantasy novel couples dazzling creativity and invention, stunning concepts and a thoroughly imagined alien world with a twisting, complicated plot that draws on numerous strands but is prevented from being truly great by some purple writing, under-utilised female characters some stilted dialogue and a down beat ending that seemed to undermine the characters’ previous experiences together. There’s a lot to admire in the book – not least the world building with Mieville building a convincing semi-industrial world filled with weird magic, weirder science and a bewildering mass of cultures and peoples that together form a wonderfully realised and believable city. However Mieville’s prose at times is very purple and the dialogue (especially Isaac’s) is really stilted at times so that I never quite believed in it. Lin’s storyline unfortunately devolved to give her a standard woman-in-peril role although I enjoyed Isaac and Yagharek’s growing friendship, which is probably why I was so disappointed in the ending when a reveal about Yagharek makes Isaac act in a way that seemed to run counter to their experience together. That said, I do think this a must-read for fantasy fans for the scope and worldbuilding alone though and will definitely check out the sequel.
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on 2 November 2017
For the positives, this is a novel boiling with ideas, and ideas of an interesting, intellectually challenging kind. At its themic heart lies the principle of binaries - or, more properly, the transgression of binaries: of the mechanical merging with the biological, mammals with insects, the respectable world with the degraded, and so on. There is an interest in the role of perception in MAKING sense, joining up points to make art, faces, logics, plots; and with the abject, with things that foster disgust, and usually lie 'underneath', constantly drawn to the fore. This is terrific stuff, if not unfamiliar. I suspect the author studied some critical theory sometime in the 'nineties.

On the negative side, all this is explored completely and at length before you are halfway through the novel, and as for the rest... The main story does not begin till about 400 pages in (yes, 400 pages). When it does begin, it has little or nothing to do with the good stuff noted above, and is, honestly, not that interesting. The rest of the book is description, pages and pages of it, all in prose that I suspect is meant to be literary but is horribly over-ripe and heart-stoppingly repetitive. It is mostly the city that is described - or rather, its dirt, sewers, corruption, degradation... you get the picture. By 100 pages in I wanted to tell the author: yes, I get it, you can stop now, but it carries on for the entirety of this rather long novel.

I suspect that this is partly a question of sensibility. If you really like description - and like gothic, and like steampunk - this probably works for you. I don't and just found it infuriating. Certainly the author has imagination - but really, who doesn't? Your world-building has to be really good, and has to DO a lot, if you are going to do it at such length.

I am giving the novel 3 stars because it is pleasingly intellectually ambitious (and, really, intellectually successful) and that is so rare, even among novels deemed to be 'literary'. I couldn't say that I enjoyed most of it, though. I'm glad I read it, and I fought my way to the end, but it was often a fight.
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on 28 March 2016
First Impression Of The Book: I was not aware of the page count involved when I reserved this tome on the local library website, it is rather large, at first I was intimidated about getting stuck into PSS but im really glad I did. The books depth is unbelievable, the detail is astounding and China Mieville's mind is a master at creating fully fleshed out worlds with larger than life characters and other beings. This book is part of a trilogy, a trilogy that totals 2,500 pages across three books, but totally worth it!

Summary Of The Story:

There is a lot to this story! I have seven pages of notes...just on story elements....I had a great time with this book so it was definitely worth the effort.

Perdido Street Station which is set in the city of New Crobuzon follows Isaac Dan Der Grimnebulin, a human physicist who works in the field of material science. The book also follows Isaac's girlfriend Lin, a Khepri which a humanoid bug and Yagharek who is a Garuda which is an avian humanoid. There are many species that populate New Crobuzon including humans, Khepri, Garudas, the Remade (biologically altered beings), Vodyanoi (water beings), Wrymen (gargoyle...ish beings) and Cactus People...among others :D.

Isaac is approached by Yagharek one night in his laboratory, the Garuda asks Isaac to research ways for him to regain his ability to fly after it is taken from him by his own people. Yagharek pays handsomely and Isaac accepts this opportunity and starts to research any being that is able to fly as well as use physics to create a machine that may allow the birdman to fly at will.

As his research progresses Isaac becomes to believe that it is a fruitless task, his fellow scientists become irritated by the constant presence of copious birds filling every corner of the lab. Isaac hires a shady fellow to get him some of the rarer forms of flying creatures not readily available to the common citizen, amongst the batch of illegal specimens that Isaac receives is a grub stolen from a bio hazard lab nearby. Isaac grows fascinated with the bug, he discards his other research and pours his energy into seeing how this creature ticks.

Meanwhile the story follows Lin, who is an artist. Lin is building a sculpture for a known criminal boss who pays well and treats her right. Her story arc doesn't really progress the story but adds the element of a love story to fill the gaps in Isaac's story. Lin's presence also adds a sense of danger that doesn't present itself in Isaac's own story until well into the novel.

Isaac figures out what makes the creature evolve, he manages to get the grub to grow into its adult form, which turns out to be a Slake-Moth, a much feared beast who is capable of bringing New Crobuzon to it's knees and the Slake Moth has friends! The rest of story follows the events of the Slake Moth's eventually escape and the havoc it wreaks on the city and everyone in it. There are many other side-stories arcs that bring that extra level of depth and intrigue that makes this an amazing book instead of an okay one.

The Review:

The highlights of the book are the monsters that occupy these pages, the Slake Moths are truly intense evil beings and they are not even the worst, for myself the Weaver is the actual fear bringing element. A spider monster who takes fate into it's own hands and can turn on anyone at any moment. They are the highlights because they are the most memorable aspect of this novel, I can still see their images in my mind, their horror and their presence, China Mieville really nailed the overall description that accompanied these characters.

The main themes in this book are poverty, horror and science. New Crobuzon is a dirty city, full of people barely scraping by, overshadowed by the Perdido Street Station. The PSS is mainly a presence in this story and doesn't add much the overall effect. The poverty aspect brings a desperation sort of affect to the story, highlighting the affect of the 'heroes' defeating of evil as a positive effect. The horror brings the reader in, it makes the reader live and breath each encounter and fear for the characters. The science fiction in this novel is here and there but very potent and enjoyable. The genre of this book is a bit wobbly, it is mainly science fiction/fantasy but it does has great horror parts and some romance and comedy thrown in.

I have few dislikes about PSS, the length bothered me a little as it took me a week to finish and there were a few parts that felt unnecessary and brought very little to the effect other than either an 'ohhh' or an 'ahhh' or even a 'grrrr' at some missed potential. The ending was satisfactory, though the build up in the book that takes 700 odd pages to come together finishes on a high note, the rest of the conclusion just felt rushed and merely a formality, but that may be required for the sequels that I am yet to read.

Perdido Street Station is a world you can get lost in, there plenty to it, it has loads of re-read value and the science fiction is spot-on. That part with the lady who can seek out and contact people via a unique method is awe inspiring and one of my most notable parts of this story. PSS is a long volume and China Mieville did this for a reason as any less detail or impact would have left a bad taste in one's mouth.

8/10

If you liked this review check out my blog at alwaystrustinbooks.blogspot.co.uk or add me on twitter @AlwTrustInBooks, or like my Facebook page or friend me on Goodreads for updates.....ahhhh social media :D see you around and happy reading!!!
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on 25 May 2017
China Mieville is most certainly not everybody's cup of tea. His mastery of the language gifts us with some truly amazing images but at times it becomes quite hard to keep going. Some of the paragraphs seems to be there for the sake of language in itself other that to help the story flow. This was my first encounter with Mr Mieville and at first I found it really hard to get into the story, to get a measure of it, to find it's rhythm. Having said that once I hit the zone I just could not stop reading. I found myself in a completely new world, one unlike I ever seen (read) before. There are so many ideas in this book, so many concepts, so much to take in. I have come back to this book again and again over the years and every time it does not fail to trow something new at me. One heck of a rollercoaster.
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on 23 April 2016
In the city of New Crobuzon humans are the majority but there are minority races as well. Isaac Dan de Grimnebulin is a human scientist and his lover, Lin, is a khepri sculptor -- a relationship which if not exactly illegal is frowned upon in all but the most bohemian circles. Isaac is engaged to research biological flight while Lin is commissioned to make a statue of the city's mafia Godfather. Isaac's research unleashes a horror that threatens to depose humanity from its place at the top of the food chain while Lin finds Godfathers can turn very nasty.

Great, sprawling fantasy which is a bleak cross between Dickens and Lovecraft. I loved it and definitely want to read this author's other books.
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on 9 July 2010
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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on 5 July 2015
This book is packed with deliriously imaginative, bizarre vignettes that I will remember and wonder at for along time. A machine blossoming into consciousness, nightmare creatures copulating on the wing, an encounter with an ambassadorial representative from Hell, a brothel populated by sex-workers 're-made' to cater to the most perverted tastes, the brutal breaking-up of a dockworkers' strike with giant jellyfish, and many, many others besides. Less praiseworthy is the presentation of the overall plot, which - if you crave action - doesn't get started until about 400 pages in, the implausible moralizing by utterly amoral protagonists in the weak turnabout of a conclusion, and the mania for describing the city of New Crobuzon in forensic detail. There's a kind of a 'Rough Guide to New Crobuzon' hidden in here. This might be bearable as the city is clearly a fantastic creation, but as the author is interested primarily in touring us around the underbelly of the city - sewers, slums and dumps - and has a limited, mostly scatological vocabulary for describing it, it gets repetititive fast. Prepare to be told again and again and again how decrepit, mouldering and filthy everything is. Birds circulate like specks of turd in the toilet bowl of the sky, the rain spews and pukes down, and so on. I admire the writer's imagination but he should have engaged a tougher editor to curb his descriptive excesses as there are clearly several drafts of the book layered together here: a description of something frequently ends only for it to start all over with another, usually inferior attempt at describing it. This is a shame, as in those more disciplined and focused moments when his imagination is on fire (such as those mentioned above), the writing can be astonishingly impressive, inventive and surprising.
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