Book Title: Perdido Street Station
Author: China Mieville
Publisher: Pan Books 2011
Source: The local library,
Page Count: 867
Genre: Science Fiction amongst many others!
Audience: Adults (sexual and violent content)
Buy It/Borrow it/Avoid it: Borrow it
Summed up in one word: Thorough!
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 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.
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