Keely rated it really liked it Shelves: It's often been noted that I'll give at least four stars to any fantasy from the Italian Renaissance, and yet rarely give more than two for anything written since the nineteen-sixties. Some have accused me of a staunch prejudice in period, but lo! I really love the fantasy genre, but the corollary of this is that I hate most fantasy books, because of how they mistreat that which I l My friends call me Senex 'The Old Man' because of my taste in fantasy, or they would, if I had any.
I really love the fantasy genre, but the corollary of this is that I hate most fantasy books, because of how they mistreat that which I love. Whenever I am called to task for loving old books and despising new ones, I give a silent thanks to China Mieville for writing a book within the last decade that I can, with all honesty and aplomb, say is both eminently enjoyable and well-written. There are so many rich veins that run through the history of fantastical literature, from the epics, the matter of France, and fairy tales to metaphysical poetry and the pulps; and yet today, the core of the genre is content to keep digging deeper into a spent shaft.
Mieville's work shines because he divines more unusual sources of inspiration and then carefully prises, polishes, and sets them. Fantasy has been tirelessly driven on a myth of the late medieval, so much so that any small deviation is lauded as a 'unique vision'. But gladly, Mieville isn't of the school that thinks a gritty, escapist pseudo-medieval romance is utterly distinct from a heroic, moralizing pseudo-medieval romance.
He belongs to a much older school—several, in fact. One thread Mieville draws on are the 'Weird' authors of early century pulp, who combined horror, fantasy, and science fiction, and didn't delineate where one ended and the other began. Science fiction cannot just sit on its laurels like fantasy, if only because it is constantly outstripped by new science and technology.
Lovecraft fantasized Verne, LeGuin fantasized Doc Smith, and Mieville has a whole new world of bursting technologies to draw from. The information and biotech boom led to an entirely new vision of the future, completely unavailable to writers of the Silver or Golden age, one which was snatched up by the young, hungry, dirty Cyberpunk writers.
If there were an easy way to sum up his work, you might say Mieville has written a 'cyberpunk fantasy', concentrating on the same flawed, sprawling cities, plucky heroes, and confirmation that knowledge is more valuable than martial puissance. Not since Snowcrash have I read a book that was as fun as it is intelligent. Both authors have worlds that are underpinned by ideas and philosophies. For Stephenson, it was the social theory of Jaynes, but for Mieville, it's economics.
As an economist, he can't help but enumerate the world; for him, events unerringly lead back to fundamental causes like need, supply, gain, and zero-sum games. This isn't overt in his books, it's merely the mechanism that underpins the drive of his plot. Perhaps this explains why he was drawn to a setting reminiscent of the Victorian and not the Medieval, since economic historians suggest that , before this period, economics could hardly have existed as a science, since the fundamental questions which underpin it had no answer in a system based on guild and fealty. But once economics bloomed, it did so grandly, such that economics could be the basis for a fantasy or a farce.
Yet Mieville's particular economic views are not the theme of the story. He is not a moralist, but a cynic, capable of representing the failure of good ideas even one he believes in and the success of harmful ones. His 'gritty realism' is not merely a collage of pointless sex, violence, and cruelty like some other fantasy authors I could name , but a representation of necessary evils, difficulties, and desires. But he is not merely a Cyberpunk author dabbling in fantasy, any more than Lovecraft was a fantasist who wrote about space aliens. Indeed, Mieville takes notes from Lovecraft, remembering that the most interesting magic is that which is only vaguely explained, and which suggests a strange and interesting world beyond the characters' understanding.
I still recall the throwaway line "some plankton from a huge brine dimension" in The Scar sparking my imagination more than entire books by other authors, and of course, evoking the colliding branes of String Theory. The mindless 'grey goo' antagonists are equally Lovecraftian, but Mieville does more interesting things with The Weaver, an unfathomable huge spider who exists between space and time. So many authors after Lovecraft tried to bring the Mythos closer to human understanding, giving the unknowable beings dialogue and motivation, but nothing kills frighteningly alien creatures faster than poorly-written dialogue ; indeed, I would have said giving the creatures any level of comprehensible consciousness ruins them, but I'm glad to be proven wrong.
The Weaver is neither ally nor antagonist, nor does his dialogue bring him down to our level.
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If anything, it makes him seem more uncanny, since it is easier to shrug off some silent terror than to discover something that almost seems to make sense, but the truths it dances around suggest a world we would not wish to understand, because it is inconceivable, overawing, and deeply ironic. But then, that is the scientific lesson from which Mieville profits: The spider could be telling men about Heisenbergian concepts of non-causality and total existence failure and be no less right nor any less unnerving.
And yet, for all Mieville's gravitas, there is something undeniably frivolous and delightful about his characters. They never get so bogged-down in their difficulties that they lose the fundamental vivacity with which he endows them. It is rare to find an author who deals with such vibrant surrealism, and yet is capable of reigning it in before it overwhelms the story. Mervyn Peake might be the master of using carefully-rationed absurdism to create a world more realistic and believably than any stark vision of Post-Modern Realism.
Like Peake, Mieville's characters and setting are always strange enough to seem unusually real. Some have suggested that this frivolity undermines the very serious questions and ideas he presents elsewhere, but I, for one, am glad to find him capable of reveling in joy, for Nietzsche once observed that "excess is not the result of joy, but joylessness". I compared Mieville favorably to Snowcrash, but Stephenson's other books simply cannot measure up to his first success, and it is because they are joyless. They delve passionately into ideas and minutia, but do not revel in the characters, the place, or the events.
I would rather an author dance lightly across his treatise than for a moment begin to imagine that what he writes is portentous and grandiose. Nor does Mieville err too far on the other side of the fantastical: Unlike Calvino's Invisible Cities , Mieville does not lose himself in the false profundity of metaphysics, and never once suggests the meaningless New Age aphorism that "I am remarkable precisely because I know that I am ignorant".
What is remarkable in the mind of man is the cusp of knowledge, not the unknown that lies beyond it. His story is infused with the search for knowledge and understanding, which plays through all his economic causes, his scientific metaphysical exploration no less far-fetched than M-theory , and considerably more accessible , and, of course, the pseudo-scientific interests of his characters. What prevents this from dragging down into the sort of detail-mashing explanations that can kill a good book or a good idea , is that Mieville is more interested in the love of discovery than in stagnating over what is already known.
Every book should be as concerned and excited with discovery: By seeking out strange and varied inspirations for his work, Mieville has shown once again that an author is only as good as the works he draws from, and only as original as the ideas he adopts. He invests his magic with alchemy, quantum theory, and transhuman biotech. He replaces heroism and escapism with economic theory and passionate individualism. He has more world, more character, and more plot than most fantasists, and yet it is not overwrought, it is all a romp, all a vivacious and unapologetic adventure.
Most genre writers not only have higher literary pretensions, but fail to deliver on them, while at the same time having less fun doing it. Mieville puts them to shame. I can only hope fantasy authors of the future will be inspired by him, and save this genre from itself and its ponderous, long-winded Old Guard. My Fantasy Book Suggestions View all 49 comments. Jul 30, Ken-ichi rated it did not like it Shelves: I feel like I've been reading this book forever.
It's long, largely unstructured, and I never became particularly invested in any of the characters, so it just dragged on. The best thing I could say about it is that it's diverting. One of the quotes on the back describes it as "phantasmagoric," which seems accurate. All sorts of crazy random things, soul-devouring moth creatures, interdimensional homicidal spiders, creative reconstructive surgery as state punishment.
That's all amusing to a degr I feel like I've been reading this book forever. That's all amusing to a degree, enough to keep boredom at bay while waiting in line or riding the train. Which is not to say that this is a work of complete and utter novelty. All kinds of fantasy and scifi tropes, sentient parasite societies, machines acquiring intelligence, hawk people, oppressive government, blah blah.
There are also passages like this: It vibrated minutely in eldritch dimensions, buffeted by emanations from within. They came in a constant quick drip. They looked like glutinous clots dribbling down the entrails of the disemboweled airships. Ultimately, the author who's smug mug defaces the back cover in possibly the worst author photo I've suffered to date seems far too obsessed with the little hodgepodge world he's thrown together, too eager to throw in every little "wouldn't it be cool if" moment he ever imagined instead of focusing on the story.
Maybe I just didn't like his writing. Or the fact that he used the word 'bituminous' on practically every page. Anyway, I don't recommend it. View all 26 comments. Jun 11, mark monday rated it it was ok Shelves: View all 70 comments. Mar 25, Brad rated it it was amazing Recommended to Brad by: This review also contains plenty of vulgarity. Please don't read this if you do not want to see the "f" and other words.
Me reading my review: I decided to read this on SoundCloud, since BirdBrian has turned me into a recorded voice madman. You can listen right here if you'd like. I fucking hate moths. They freak me out. You know how Indiana Jones hates snakes? That's how I hate moths.
I hate them so much that the disdain and fear extends to butterflies. I actually made a little girl cry when I was surprised by a butterfly and crushed it between the sole of my shoe and concrete, although I've never been sure if she cried because I squished the moth or because I let loose with the sanguine battle-cry: I sense you wondering why I feel this way. Somewhere upstairs my Dad heard my bedroom door closing and yelled down, "Turn off the light.
I heard him, but I ignored him. I was up the stairs, in my shoes and out the door before anyone could say anything more. Now I had this fucking bizarre bedroom window. You see, I was and am the lightest sleeper the world has ever seen even now I have double blacked windows, wear a black eye mask and 33 decibels ear plugs, and I still wake up at even the slightest shift in the air , and to try and buy me some more sleep without hurting the aesthetic of our home a far more important concern for my Mom than combating my insomnia , my Dad installed a blind whose efficacy required the removal of my window screen.
So somewhere between the time I left and the time I came home, my Dad came downstairs to make sure I'd turned off my light. He opened my door, reached for the light switch, turned off the lights, closed the door and went off to bed himself, but not before the light had attracted some fuzzy, beige, fluttering, dusty fucking creatures.
My first time on hallucinogens. And what did I do? I invited the creatures of the night into my room. At around 4 a. I needed to get to my room, put on some chill-out music and a soft light, and just let my cozy room ease me back to reality. I fucking lost it. I grabbed my squash racket and started killing while I screamed and swore and trashed my room.
There were probably only about a dozen moths in my room, but those shrooms did their job, and I spent the rest of that long morning obsessing about fluttering wings and the claustrophobic feeling of moth dust and guts settling on my skin, in much the same way that dreamshit settles on the minds of sleeping New Crobuzoners. Then came the blindside of the Slake Moths, and my enjoyment was transformed into absolute horror, keep-the-lights-on-late-at-night-horror, stomp-all-fluttering-insects-into-the-pavement-horror, fucking-shit-my-pants-at-night-from-nightmares-horror.
For me, the Slake Moths are the most terrifying creation in literature. But then, I know that my love for Perdido Street Station goes far beyond my drug-induced psychosis. And those are just some of the reasons his fans love him. View all 50 comments. Nov 27, Lyn rated it really liked it. A brilliant page turner. First of all, any book that begins with a quote from Philip K. Dick is alright in my book and promises a great story to come. This promise was kept, with interest. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville is to steampunk weird fiction as Neuromancer was to cyberpunk — it is the definitive benchmark.
Lovecraft with his occult, squalid, lurid depictions of an ancient, rotting but still surviving civilization the reader can also glimpse a Robert A. Mieville has summoned up a fantasy world that teems with life and amazing detail.go here
Perdido Street Station by China Miéville | Book Review | Armorbelle
This book is unique and incomparable to other works — Mieville has demonstrated that he is a trendsetter, a vanguard of a new literature. View all 25 comments. Go me and stuff. Yet another overhyped book with a cult following bites the dust! I obviously read this one wrong! Or maybe I read it right but didn't enjoy it because I'd mistakenly purchased the Swahili version and read it back to front and upside down. Had I bought the English version , I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have noticed how excruciatingly boring the story is.
Or thought that reading the book was a more tedious chore than being on cleaning duty at the barnacle shed.
Perdido Street Station
But I didn't, so I did. Bloody stinking fish, rarely have I had to suffer through such painfully overdescriptive prose. Silly little shrimp that I am. Locke Lamora is a complete joke compared to this painfully harrowing effort, like reading one of Noddy's fascinating adventures or something. Anyway, I have to admit this wasn't completely unexpected. I mean, I was going to read the ebook version of this most beguiling tale but a friend whom I shall be eternally full of grate to mentioned the book was awfully, um, generous, in the details department , and recommended I listened to the audio version to ease the pain enjoy the book to its full potential.
That was one of the mostest brilliantest ideas ever, I have to say. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have made it past the prologue , had I read the printed version. Of course it is. Anyway, the cool thing about the audio for this book is that, even if you forget to hit the pause button while you're busy slaughtering puny humans running errands, you don't miss a bloody shrimping thing. Because then you come back and realize the narrator is still babbling about the same stuff he was rambling about half an hour before! How cool is that?! Talking about the lovely narrator. I'm pretty sure Mr John Lee is a positively delightful human being, but never in my crustacean life have I listened to a more pompous, overly theatrical narration.
It sounded like the guy was chanting ancient poetry, for fish's sake! I got to chapter 8 and started feeling a teensy little bit like … My murderous troops obviously started getting very concerned about my mental health , so I decided to hit the pause button one gloriously final time, and proceeded to DNF the fish out of this most wondrous piece of literature.
Yes, I did it for the kids' sake. I hate to see them distressed, you see. Had it not been for them, I would gladly have continued listening to this delightful story. No doubt about that and stuff. Okay, so to be disgustingly honest, it kinda sorta sucks big time that I was forced to DNF this book against my nefarious will. Also, the very diverse cast of characters and creatures is pretty shrimping awesome. Especially Lin the insectoid artist. Yeah, she's sort of cool for a, um, you know, bug. And I'm kind of an expert on the topic. Damn, I'm convulsing just thinking about it. Better change the subject before my allergic reaction comes back in full swing, and my exoskeleton starts getting all swollen and blotchy and stuff.
But this Sirantha Jax business was ever so slightly traumatizing and stuff, so I might need a few gallons of whisky to numb the somewhat excruciating pain and calm the fish down. Only that it wasn't. Patting my little self on the exoskeleton for DNFing the fish out of it. View all 43 comments. Apr 06, Stephan rated it it was amazing. Perdido Street Station is a rich steampunk fantasy novel.
The world is unique and filled to the brim with creative ideas and details. Every sense is involved when wandering through it. If you want to read this, don't be faint of heart. The visuals are sometimes shocking and early on there are animal experiments, then - no Finished. The visuals are sometimes shocking and early on there are animal experiments, then - no spoiling - things happen to corpses and boy, do they stink.
There are beasts of hell and sewers - no, not the harmless kind, these are filthy with slick walls, slime, mould, full of rot and shit. If you are prone to nightmares, here you are supplied with lots of material. No it is not, but there sure are elements. Mieville's vivid language gives birth to the city of New Crobuzon. It grows in your mind, takes on form. The inhabitants, the smell, the looks.. His choice of words and his vocabulary is monumentous..
All right, all right, you win, you, you He and his friends have morals but they are challenged. Is there a good way to do something bad? Can crimes be redeemed? Many questions are posed in this book. That's part of what I like so much about Mieville's books. While telling a story he asks questions and reflects on them, indirectly.
No need to deal with them if you don't want to, but if you do, you are challenged. There was something I didn't like. Often there is this switch in the telling of a story near the end of a book, that I dislike.
Perdido Street Station by China Miéville | Book Review
It occurs at the precise moment when the main character after struggling suddenly finds clarity and finally has a plan. This plan is not shared for the purpose of suspence. From this point on, the reader isn't part of the story anymore, s he is merely permitted to watch the plan unfold. I'm not saying this is a flaw or that this technique to build suspense doesn't work - it's just that I feel the moment happening and I feel shut out.
But luckily it doesn't make the book any worse. Now go, get the book, read your heart out. Open your mind and let Mieville draw you in, astound you, shock you, let him paint on the canvas of your imagination.. View all 29 comments. Mar 03, Ian "Marvin" Graye rated it it was amazing Shelves: Is this a fantasy love or is it real? After all, is there any love that is not partly a product of your own mind?
How can a writer make this happen? How can a reader experience this? How can a person experience it in real life? I have limited discussion of the plot, except to the extent necessary to discuss themes. I identify the antagonists, but not the process or outcome of the antagonism. Some readers feel there are spoilers.
Is This the Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy? I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction in my teens, when I was working out my taste in literature. I had a fairly active fantasy life. This world exercised my brain like a muscle, I exerted my mind, I did not fear difficulty or effort or rationality or emotion or imagination. Instead, these things were concrete materials that I used to self-construct the me that is I. They allowed me to dream, to aspire, to do and to succeed. And to relax and to manage stress.
Maps and Legends Computerised war games were not an option in my childhood. I had plastic soldiers, metal tanks and artillery, model airplanes complete with World War I flying aces. Our home was raised about 1. Battles raged on the ground and in the air. Cannons shot matches across the rugged terrain and took the lives of the infantry. Pilots in planes suspended from the bottom of the floorboards engaged in fierce dogfights, until one or other plunged into a hillside or the watery stillness of my imaginary ocean.
I mapped these worlds in the days before Google Earth. I created atlases of warfare, I assembled maps and legends, I taught myself German Text, so I could fill each page with my dreams. I wanted to be an engineer, then a cartographer, finally a diplomat. I wanted to be a lover of the foreign and the exotic, a traveller, a go-between, a communicator, an advocate, a negotiator, a master of the opening gambit, a player of trump cards, an unraveller of puzzles, a solver of problems, a snorter of diplomatic corps quality cocaine, a smoker of peace pipes, someone who might be remembered for bringing two disparate peoples or people together.
Ultimately, I did not need fantasy literature, because I was my own fantasy and I created my own fantasy world. I drew my own map and I was my own legend. Fantasy fiction and science fiction moved on without me, while I discovered literature that helped me understand people, relationships, the world we live in. The closest I have got to fantasy recently has been the works of Haruki Murakami.
I realised, then , that I was falling in love. What did CM do to make me fall so? I still have to pronounce this word carefully. I have never spoken it to a person in real life. Even now I mouth it hesitantly. It sits astride the confluence of two rivers, the Tar and the Canker, which join to form one, the waters from the two retained, but somehow transformed, almost dialectically, into the River Gross Tar.
It teems with people, beings, trade, commerce, ideas, ambitions, success, failure, suffering and misery. It teeters at some tipping point where just a nudge could bring the entire structure collapsing down like Einsturzende Altbauten. And, surely, some peril does emerge to give it that nudge, but cometh the time, cometh the man. They are not your common or garden variety heroes just as the antagonists are not common or garden variety moths.
It is a stew with meat and vegetables. There would be no gain from an argument about what is principal or secondary. Suffice it to say that, what embarks from the intellectual platform later becomes a rollercoaster ride. A Fine, but Medieval, Romance Apart from the scientific and philosophical content, the other aspect of PSS that immediately appealed to me was the romance, especially the extent to which it was overtly erotic. Again, while trying to define the role of adventure in PSS, I stumbled across a discussion in Wiki, which helped me define my appreciation of the romance at the heart of the novel: Indeed, the standard plot of medieval romances was a series of adventures.
A separation would follow, with a second set of adventures leading to a final reunion. At the level of a medieval romance, there is a sense in which a knight errant Isaac , portrayed as having heroic qualities hmm , goes on a quest and experiences various marvel-filled adventures hmm. Later, these types of stories were recast from an ironic, satiric or burlesque point of view e. It might be more accurate to place PSS within this later romantic tradition. Isaac is not exactly a hero, but he is not quite an anti-hero. He is a post-modern, fat bastard, nerdy, scientific Everyman, who rises to the occasion when he is called upon.
Lin is a Khepri with a female body and a scarab beetle head. Needless to say, there is not just love, but a smorgasbord of sensory pleasures including sight, scent, taste, touch, lust and pleasure sex, notwithstanding the partial physiological incompatibility. Some readers seem to be grossed out by this physical challenge. I felt it highlighted the authenticity of their love. I found the relationship convincing and highly erotically charged. It would take a great writer to write scenes of affection and delight that appealed to me as much as those featuring Lin and Isaac. Mothrotica Having said that, CM replicates the erotic charge in his description of the principal antagonists in the novel.
The threat to New Crobuzon comes from giant slake-moths that feed on dreams. We see them transform through their life cycle from larva to pupa to adulthood, from caterpillar to cocoon to moth. During pupation, the larval structures of the moth are broken down, while the adult structures are formed.
The pupa is inactive and usually static and sessile unable to move about. They derive sustenance from the psychic energy of the non-rational part of the mind of those around them. They suck out the dreams of the inhabitants of New Crobuzon and leave them mindless and mute. Feeding is described in almost sexual terms, but having fed, the slake-moths become sexually active and fertile, they fly around, looping, falling, stroking, touching, arousing, copulating…juicily, ardently, ecstatically. This is gross, even though CM uses the same language he would use for Lin and Isaac.
However, the juxtaposition of their non-sentient sexuality with that of Lin and Isaac makes me wonder why their sexual activity cannot be enjoyed, theoretically at least, to the same extent as other erotic behavior. The answer must be that it is just too remote from what we are used to, besides it might be the sentience that creates the proximity to human sexual response. There is a point at which sexual experience is too animal, and not sufficiently close to human sexuality to enjoy.
However, CM at least asks us to contemplate sexuality, transgression and pleasure beyond what we are comfortable with. While this act is offensive and illegal within our society, in the context in which it occurred, it is not punishable as a crime in its own right, but as an example of depriving a person of their right to choose.
Thus, instead of rape being cast as an offence against the body, it is cast as an offence against the mind. The penalty might be the same or even higher. Ultimately, despite his affinity with his friend, Isaac elects to respect the law of her society, to respect its sovereignty, almost as if it was primarily an issue of international relations. Obviously, it is still a moral and criminal issue. However, Isaac accepts that each society has the right to define and enforce its own practices, customs and laws. It is not always appropriate, at least in the quasi-Victorian Steampunk era, to judge a society from the outside.
However, the interest most relevant to the battle with the slake-moths is crisis energy and his invention of a crisis engine. So what is crisis energy? There are three types of energy: Kinetic energy is the energy the object possesses due to its motion. Crisis energy is the energy that is inside an object by virtue of its being or existence. There are incredible tensions within any object, no matter what its state. If it can be moved toward a state of crisis, a point when it is about to change its form or state a transformation or transmogrification , the crisis energy will manifest itself, and can be tapped.
If he succeeds, he will virtually have achieved a perpetual energy source and perpetual motion. He achieves his goal by constructing a crisis engine that can channel energy and amplify the output. The rest is secret. Because everybody in New Crobuzon is threatened by the moths, various coalitions are proposed.
While he partners it, ultimately, he does not trust it totally, because it has no empathy or morals: Just as Isaac tried to take an objective ethical stance with respect to rape, he does the same with the war on the slake-moths. The Nectar of the Subconscious The slake-moths are dream eaters that prey on the subconscious.
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They detect and suck out hidden thoughts, guilty thoughts, anxieties, delights, dreams: Our thoughts ferment like the purest liquor While calculating or thinking machines might be able to replicate rationality, they cannot replicate morality. They can replicate consciousness, but they cannot replicate a conscience: I am a calculating machine that has calculated how to think.
I do not dream. I have no neuroses, no hidden depths. My consciousness is a growing function of my processing power, not the baroque thing that sprouts from your mind, with its hidden rooms in attics and cellars. We need our passions and morality as well. We need our sentiments to be sentient. We need experience to be sapient.
Isaac, the fat bastard outcast scientist has mastered reason, but it is not enough. He has stared the Enlightenment in the face and realized there is More Than This. Reason will allow us to peak through the keyhole, but if we want to open the doors of perception, we need more.
The Transformation of Love Much of PSS is concerned with transformation, transgression and translation, the movement from one state to another. Perhaps, love is the drug, the remedy that is required. The romantic in me wants to believe that CM regards love as a raptured moment that will stand in opposition to or on the shoulders of pure reason.
The relationship between Lin and Isaac is a clue to the transformation he thinks might be required. View all 86 comments. I'm not feeling overly inspired to review this book. I was going to tell you about his love for role- I'm not feeling overly inspired to review this book. I was going to tell you about his love for role-playing games and how his writing was particularly influenced by Dungeons and Dragons, and I was going to tell you how he wrote this novel while working on his PhD.
But then, I don't know, I guess I got bored Like the vodyanoi -- these neat-o creatures found in Slavic mythology, "Vodyanoy is said to appear as a naked old man with a greenish beard and long hair, with his body covered in algae and muck, usually covered in black fish scales. He has webbed paws instead of hands, a fish's tail, eyes that burn like red-hot coals. He usually rides along his river on a half-sunk log, making loud splashes. I was going to compose a list of the new words I learned, but it got too long I figured I could tell you a bit about each and in what ways New Crobuzon relates, but frankly I just don't care anymore The book went on for too long.
I lost my groove. I still enjoyed it, but by the end, I didn't care what was happening anymore, I just wanted it to end. And no amount of staring at China's hot photo on the back cover with those pouty lips could change that. Funny, back when I was researching what would have been an EPIC review, I found an interview where China talks about his own tendency to overwrite. That pulp aesthetic of language is something very tenuous, which all too easily simply becomes shit, but is fascinating where it works.
For the most part. But like I said, it didn't hold my attention the whole way through. I just didn't care. Maybe it's my fault as a reader. I didn't feel connected enough to the characters to care one way or the other what happened at the end. So, here I am, looking at China's handsome face on the back cover of the book. I'm writing this lackluster review while he gives me this "are you really only going to give me three stars?? Alright, since you're so damn good lookin' here's an extra half star. View all 48 comments.
What a wonderful, rich, steampunky, fantastical phantasmagoria this is. PLOT It opens with one of several short, first-person impressions: The story then opens in New Crobuzon: We meet Lin, a khepri insect artist, and her boyfriend, Isaac, a maverick human scientist. Not everyone approves of inter-species relationships, and Isaac seems to relish the semi-secrecy: Both take on dodgy commissions.
Isaac is asked to help Yagharek fly. Meanwhile, Lin agrees to make a sculpture of Mr Motley, an underworld figure who is multiply Remade hybrid of various species. Then a beautiful, totally original, but terrifying new sort of creature is loose in the city and strange allegiances are made to try to find a solution. The first part is fairly leisurely, introducing the characters and their world; the later sections are fast and furious.
The point where one thing becomes another. Many of the characters have transitions in their own bodies: There is also a significant passage where one character faces the reality of prostitution, after which he foreswears it. Such gender fluidity also fits with the transition theme. Amongst multicultural types, like Lin's friends, the main feature of mixed-species relationships seems to be the relatively trivial aspect of food, but food, in the broadest sense, is a recurring theme: Lin works alone, but most khepri art is a communal effort, as is their society generally including sex.
Garuda society is also communal and egalitarian, which is why choice-theft is so bad. There are two, very different, sorts of hive mind: This raises lots of questions about the nature of consciousness, both for various types of hive minds, but also for non-organic intelligence.
She was raised in the Insect Aspect belief system, with females being inherently fallen and thus adoring of and servile to the males sadly familiar in relation to OT-based Christianity , but the communal incestual sex abuse, at the behest of her broodma was awful. She remembered being commanded to wash her innumerable brothers' glistening carapaces Her body had been a source of shame and disgust Until then she had been subjected only to headsex at her mother's behest, sitting still and uncomfortable while a male scrabbled and coupled excitedly with her headscarab, in mercifully unsuccessful attempts at procreation.
How do we know what is real and true? Lin tries to explain what it's like to see the world with compound eyes: You must process as one picture. Tells you nothing, contradicts itself, changes its story. For me each tiny part has integrity, each fractionally different from the next, until all variation is accounted for, incrementally, rationally. A drug called dreamshit yes, really is central to the story, but I doubt it will tempt experimentation: He was a voyeur… These were memories. These were dreams…[He] was spattered by a psychic sluice.
He felt fouled… A juddering bombardment of infinitely varied moments… he was drowning in the sloshing stuff of dreams and hopes, recollections and reflections he had never had. I suspect both scientists and non-scientist would like a little less, albeit for different reasons. This too-good-to-be-true aspect reminds me somewhat of the Infinite Improbability Drive in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Machines programmed by punchcards though, are something I can almost remember. In his acknowledgements, only two authors are named: Harrison who I have yet to read and Peake. In particular, he manages to make what should be repugnant, have a sort of beauty: Thousands of sordid smoke-ghosts wrapped New Crobuzon in a stench that suffocated like guilt. I can only assume that the lack of screen versions of any of his works is because Mieville isn't keen, or is too exacting. The descriptions are so filmic, and the plots marketable, that I can imagine directors longing to do it.
One of his first-person passages almost has Grimm fairy-tale elements: Holding my intestines with one hand, I clawed his throat out with the other. I won his gold and his followers, whom I freed. I paid myself to health, bought passage on a merchant ship. I was in shock when I discovered the nature of Yag's choice-theft. Suddenly, the whole book is very obviously about choice. Should Isaac condone the crime by continuing his attempts to help Yag fly after he learns the truth? People can change, and they can atone for past actions by what they do afterwards. But for view spoiler [rape hide spoiler ]?
I want to believe in Yag, but I know that if I read a news report of a sentence being commuted because they'd been brave. I think the most interesting aspect is how Yag gains dignity by apparently shedding it. He first arrives, hiding his true self, his face and his lack of wings. Gradually, he discards his fake wooden wings, then his cloak, and finally and painfully view spoiler [all his feathers hide spoiler ]. He seems to gain gravitas and confidence from each act. His final choice is to be remade in a totally different way from all the other Remades in this world view spoiler [to pass as human, rather than garuda or Remade: I turn and walk into the city my home, not bird or garuda, not miserable crossbreed.
I turn and walk into my home, the city, a man. The other most significant choice relates to Andrej: Surely he is a victim of choice-theft. It was difficult, exhausting. But it could be done. It is without beginning or end. It is complex to a degree that humbles the mind The web is not without flaw How come cactus people and khepri have nipples?!
Near the end, the militia approaching, with minutes to save the city, the deus ex of Jack-Half-a-Prayer, killing all but ONE of moths And yet, I'm not sure how else he could have written it. Also, the militia storming the warehouse was rather slapstick. It might work better on the screen of a game or film. The first appearance of The Weaver was predictable and an easy get-out.
I actually preferred the leisurely descriptive sections to these more action-packed ones.
Aerostats oozed from clout to cloud above it like slugs on cabbages. Inhabitation spread like mould. It learnt its shape. It learnt it had needs. Each moment was drawn out until its anatomy collapsed. The day progressed in an endless sequence of dead moments. View all 90 comments. Mar 25, Bradley rated it really liked it Shelves: Lesson learned after reading this?
Don't Experiment With Cheese. Can you imagine how many problems could have been avoided had this novel had access to time-travel? It's practically the only trope not explored, and that's saying a damn lot. Off and on through the entire reading, I wanted to declare that this is one of the most brilliant novels ever written. The sheer level of creativity and attention to detail, the fantastic explorations of ideas, the explosion of plot items and complications, and Lesson learned after reading this?
The sheer level of creativity and attention to detail, the fantastic explorations of ideas, the explosion of plot items and complications, and the REALITY of it all just begged to be placed up there as one of the very, very best speculative fiction ever written. It's dense, but not unaccessible. The characters are vivid and fascinating and it's so easy to pick them all out of a lineup, despite there being a huge number of incidentals. And the plot is about as windy as they come while still holding to the straight and true. After things go to hell, it's practically a straight line, in fact, but that line is rich and a seemingly impossible goal.
I never stopped being impressed by the novel, whether it was my first time reading it or this second time. But here's the "But". I can't believe I'm saying this, but there was too much action after the moths. The city is as rich as they come, and so many damn things happened, including a great invasion scene, mind-sucking beasties, aerial monster sex, Steampunk AI emergence, mind-shit, and so many, many aliens. Or whatever you want to call them. All the little things, all the attempts to put the genie back in the bottle, all the tiring attempts to right past wrongs, it was all just too draining for me.
After a certain point, it was all brilliant descriptions and fascinating reveals, and by themselves I have no complaint. It was all tension and almost no release. As a thought experiment, I give it top marks in idea and execution. As a strictly enjoyable novel that lets the reader breathe every once in a while I'd almost recommend taking a break every once in a while, except that there's so many details to juggle and appreciate that I'd be afraid that I'd lose the thread.
I found myself wishing for more dialogue and character stuff the way we had during the opening before the Crisis Engine was first turned on. It was brilliant afterward, but it needed cycles and rhythm. It was frankly exhausting, even when I marvelled at how beautiful it was. I can make a good argument that the main character of the novel was Perdido Street Station, itself, and Isaac and Yagharek and Lin merely being secondary characters.
It's not entirely true, of course, and I sincerely liked the flesh and blood characters right along the interesting constructs. I even like Isaac despite being the author of all this mess and his many fuck-ups. I even like Yagharek despite the shit he pulled, even if I agree with his judgement. It's a depressing end to the novel, too, so perhaps my ongoing excitement for the tale took a downturn along with the tone.
Nothing it going to stop me, this time, from reading the Bas-Lag sequels. I didn't have any excuse last time, and I'm frankly chomping at the bit to read more of this world. It's so damn rich, and not even an unsatisfying end can ruin that. View all 14 comments. Jun 01, Robin Bridge Four rated it really liked it Shelves: Amazon Daily Deal 18Jul18 1. I think it is kind of a little of both. The writing is wonderful and the world is fantastic. That easily made me like so many things about this book.
There are so many different kinds of creatures, peoples and interesting characters. This is a world where there is alchemy, magic and various other mysteries. It is a world where things like this can happen from the magical waste in the rivers. Young mudlarks searching the river quag for scrap had been known to step into some discoloured patch of mud and start speaking long-dead languages, or find locusts in their hair, or fade slowly to translucency and disappear. The author took some very big risks with the love interest Lin and the relationship between her and the main character Isaac Grimnebulin.
He kissed her warm red skin. She turned in his arms. She angled up on one elbow and, as he watched, the dark ruby of her carapace opened slowly while her headlegs splayed. The two halves of her headshell quivered slightly, held as wide as they would go. From beneath their shade she spread her beautiful, useless little beetle wings. It was interesting and different and so odd. There are eagle headed creatures, huge spider men things that live in multiple realms at the same time and weave things to their liking, moths that drink your dreams and much much more.
It was amazing and very detailed I could definitely picture most of the stuff in this so well because of the beautiful writing. New Crobuzon was a city unconvinced by gravity. Wyrmen clawed their way above the city leaving trails of defecation and profanity. Crematoria vented into the airborne ashes of wills burnt by jealous executors, which mixed with coaldust burnt to keep dying lovers warm. More than once I got lost within the words of the story. It was beautiful yet grotesque, captivating yet horrifying all at the same time.
This story lived in a strange and wonderful dichotomy that was just strange. The characters within the story are not nice and noble people. They are people driven to the brink and tested. They made choices that seemed necessary and at the same time were also horrible. Some of the consequences are horrible and I was really sad that a few of them had to be paid like that along the way. This is not a happy story.
There are no roses and sunshine at the end it is choices made and consequences paid. I was sad for many of the characters at the end of this. It is hard to get to know some of them in one context in the story to find out what their crime was before we met them and then figure out how you feel about them now. Can you forgive them their past transgressions or do you now hate them forever.
There is part of this that it seems like the story loses a bit of its direction and flounders for a second. It is just crazy because it shifts right in the middle from being about whatever I assumed it was about at the beginning into what it ended up being about in the end. It is just a strange transition. BUT, if you are looking for something interesting, different, gritty and strange well this should totally fit that bill well.
The writing is superb in so many ways and this definitely is a unique world. View all 3 comments. What did I just read?! This book is crazy. What is Perdido Street Station? Is it fantasy, is it sci-fi, or is it just outright weird fiction? The story is set in a totally made up universe in the city state of New Crobuzon.
The setting could loosely be described as steampunk with an early industrial era feel, dirty, dank, corrupt, with a dictatorship for government and an underworld that rules the streets. Tec What did I just read?! The book begins slowly, gradually introducing us to more and more weird stuff as we go. The city has well defined suburbs that have a character all of their own — most memorable for me being Bonetown, which is a suburb framed by the ribs of some ginormous half buried skeleton.
There are other races beside humans in this world. The non sentient males are just big head sized bugs. The thing is, Mieville introduces us to this world in such a way that is mind blowing without being corny. All these ingredients just blend into a brew that is rich and exotic and a delight to read. Is it that the creatures are any more horrific than just the normal, ordinary horrific citizens of New Crobuzon? I hope I have given you a little taste of what to expect…just a little. View all 39 comments. Mar 29, Ryan rated it did not like it Recommends it for: This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers.
To view it, click here. The demons refuse to assist and the Weaver soon ends up aiding Isaac. After killing one of the slakemoths, with the aid of a sentient machine known as the Construct Council, Isaac and his friends destroy the eggs that they have laid before laying a trap for the remainder. The trap is mostly successful, but the last slakemoth escapes and returns 'home' to Mr Motley's facility. The Weaver transports Isaac to the warehouse where they find Lin who has been tortured and is still working on the sculpture.
A confrontation occurs, during which Lin's mind is half eaten and the last slakemoth is killed by Mr Motley's men. Isaac escapes with Lin and Yagharek and prepares to leave the city. Isaac learns of Yagharek's crime, a rape of one of his own species, and refuses to help him fly again. Lin never fully recovers and Yagharek is left alone in the city, pulling out his feathers and having to accept his new flightless identity. Michael Moorcock reviewed the book and said " Perdido Street Station , a massive and gorgeously detailed parallel-world fantasy, offers us a range of rather more exotic creatures, all of whom are wonderfully drawn and reveal a writer with a rare descriptive gift, an unusually observant eye for physical detail, for the sensuality and beauty of the ordinarily human as well as the thoroughly alien.
Cover of first UK edition.