Friday, February 9, 2018

Review: "Perdido Street Station" by China Mieville

For all that I criticize Science Fiction and Fantasy (which I will admit is sometimes too often), I have been having much better luck with the books I have picked up in the past few years, from Samuel R. Delany’s brilliant yet confusing Dhlgren and Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, the first died in the wool fantasy novel that I consider to be great, and now after a recommendation from one of my former professors, my luck continues with China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station, a book that reads a little bit like William Gibson (who I don’t like very much) and Haruki Murakami at his absolute weirdest (think Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World weird). This is a book that revels in its odd little details, details that fascinated me and engaged me way more than I expected. The plot is a bit messy, but I suspect that is one of the fun parts about this book. It deals with Isaac who lives in the Dickensian mess of a city called New Crobuzon (it has a whole history which you can look up on your own). He is something of a disgraced scientist who finds his squalid world upended by the arrival of a bird like creature who wants his wings back as well as a grotesque caterpillar like creature who feeds on an illicit drug called “dreamshit”. Things god haywire, a giant spider appears, and humans are brought back from the dead for the amusement of the city’s less reputable inhabitants. If that sells you on it, you will have a ball with this book. And even if it doesn’t, it is one of the rare science fiction books I have come across that is rich in character as well as lofty flights of the imagination, with my favorite being Lin, Isaac’s amphibious girlfriend who cannot speak but by circumstance becomes the books sympathetic heart. At 710 pages, this is a pleasurable epic that astounds, disgusts and entertains in equal measure.

Rating: 4/5

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