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Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

China Mieville
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (502 customer reviews)

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Book Description

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from China Mieville’s Embassytown.

Beneath the towering bleached ribs of a dead, ancient beast lies New Crobuzon, a squalid city where humans, Re-mades, and arcane races live in perpetual fear of Parliament and its brutal militia. The air and rivers are thick with factory pollutants and the strange effluents of alchemy, and the ghettos contain a vast mix of workers, artists, spies, junkies, and whores. In New Crobuzon, the unsavory deal is stranger to none—not even to Isaac, a brilliant scientist with a penchant for Crisis Theory.

Isaac has spent a lifetime quietly carrying out his unique research. But when a half-bird, half-human creature known as the Garuda comes to him from afar, Isaac is faced with challenges he has never before fathomed. Though the Garuda's request is scientifically daunting, Isaac is sparked by his own curiosity and an uncanny reverence for this curious stranger.

While Isaac's experiments for the Garuda turn into an obsession, one of his lab specimens demands attention: a brilliantly colored caterpillar that feeds on nothing but a hallucinatory drug and grows larger—and more consuming—by the day. What finally emerges from the silken cocoon will permeate every fiber of New Crobuzon—and not even the Ambassador of Hell will challenge the malignant terror it invokes . . .

A magnificent fantasy rife with scientific splendor, magical intrigue, and wonderfully realized characters, told in a storytelling style in which Charles Dickens meets Neal Stephenson, Perdido Street Station offers an eerie, voluptuously crafted world that will plumb the depths of every reader's imagination.

Editorial Reviews Review

When Mae West said, "Too much of a good thing can be wonderful," she could have been talking about China Miéville's Perdido Street Station. The novel's publication met with a burst of extravagant praise from Big Name Authors and was almost instantly a multiaward finalist. You expect hyperbole in blurbs; and sometimes unworthy books win awards, so nominations don't necessarily mean much. But Perdido Street Station deserves the acclaim. It's ambitious and brilliant and--rarity of rarities--sui generis. Its clearest influences are Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy and M. John Harrison's Viriconium books, but it isn't much like them. It's Dickensian in scope, but fast-paced and modern. It's a love song for cities, and it packs a world into its strange, sprawling, steam-punky city of New Crobuzon. It can be read with equal validity as fantasy, science fiction, horror, or slipstream. It's got love, loss, crime, sex, riots, mad scientists, drugs, art, corruption, demons, dreams, obsession, magic, aliens, subversion, torture, dirigibles, romantic outlaws, artificial intelligence, and dangerous cults.

Generous, gaudy, grand, grotesque, gigantic, grim, grimy, and glorious, Perdito Street Station is a bloody fascinating book. It's also so massive that you may begin to feel you're getting too much of a good thing; just slow down and enjoy.

Yes, but what is Perdido Street Station about? To oversimplify: the eccentric scientist Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin is hired to restore the power of flight to a cruelly de-winged birdman. Isaac's secret lover is Lin, an artist of the khepri, a humano-insectoid race; theirs is a forbidden relationship. Lin is hired (rather against her will) by a mysterious crime boss to capture his horrifying likeness in the unique khepri art form. Isaac's quest for flying things to study leads to verification of his controversial unified theory of the strange sciences of his world. It also brings him an odd, unknown grub stolen from a secret government experiment so perilous it is sold to a ruthless drug lord--the same crime boss who hired Lin. The grub emerges from its cocoon, becomes an extraordinarily dangerous monster, and escapes Isaac's lab to ravage New Crobuzon, even as his discovery becomes known to a hidden, powerful, and sinister intelligence. Lin disappears and Isaac finds himself pursued by the monster, the drug lord, the government and armies of New Crobuzon, and other, more bizarre factions, not all confined to his world. --Cynthia Ward

From Publishers Weekly

King Rat (1999), Mi‚ville's much-praised first novel of urban fantasy/horror, was just a palate-teaser for this appetizing, if extravagant, stew of genre themes. Its setting, New Crobuzon, is an audaciously imagined milieu: a city with the dimensions of a world, home to a polyglot civilization of wildly varied species and overlapping and interpenetrating cultures. Seeking to prove his unified energy theory as it relates to organic and mechanical forms, rogue scientist Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin tries to restore the power of flight to Yagharek, a member of the garuda race cruelly shorn of its wings. Isaac's lover, Lin, unconsciously mimics his scientific pursuits when she takes on the seemingly impossible commission of sculpting a patron whose body is a riot of grotesquely mutated and spliced appendages. Their social life is one huge, postgraduate bull session with friends and associates--until a nightmare-inducing grub escapes from Isaac's lab and transforms into a flying monster that imperils the city. This accident precipitates a political crisis, initiates an action-packed manhunt for Isaac and introduces hordes of vividly imagined beings who inhabit the twilight zone between science and sorcery. Mi‚ville's canvas is so breathtakingly broad that the details of individual subplots and characters sometime lose their definition. But it is also generous enough to accommodate large dollops of aesthetics, scientific discussion and quest fantasy in an impressive and ultimately pleasing epic.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
102 of 111 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is it a story or a picture? June 24, 2003
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. China Mieville spends endless thousands of words painting pictures in this novel. Detailed and elaborate descriptive prose is weaved throughout the book, describing in great detail every aspect of New Crobuzon, the city in which the story takes place. And while I admire the great effort Mieville goes to in order to bring the city to vivid life, in the end I felt that Perdido Street Station suffered for it.
Momentum built in the story is repeatedly lost when a long descriptive passage is encountered. The focus on the characters and events is often lost, and I found myself feeling as if the prose was an intermission to the story, rather than a part of it. Ultimately, the story and the prose compete with each other so much that I couldn't really gauge whether the story was very good at all.
Would I recommend Perdido Street Station? Well, that depends on what kind of writing you like. If you enjoy lots of adjective-laden phrases painting verbal pictures, you'll probably like the way Mieville portrays the environs of his gritty, surreal, bizarre city. If you're looking for a good, entertaining story, you might be disappointed as I was. Perdido Street Station isn't bad - it's just not for everyone.
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135 of 150 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Dazzling Milieu November 19, 2001
If you are looking for the unusual, the bizarre, for unforgettable images, this is the book to get. Mieville's city of New Crobuzon is a phantasmagorical tapestry of weirdly modified humans, from cactus to bird to frog to ant-men, a technology that is an equally crazy quilt of steam power, magic, electric-powered clockwork for heightened psi-powers, a political structure that could come straight from Stalin's Russia complete with deals with an all-too-real Satan and a world-thread artist spider known simply as the Weaver, a trash-heap conscious computer, and intimations of a history and wider world that is even more fantastic.

Beyond the incredible scenery is an almost Victorian moralistic plot, where the protagonist is forced to deal with the consequences of his innocent-seeming research into methods of restoring flight to a criminal garuda bird-man. His fight against the slake-moths that were inadvertently freed as a result of one of his investigations forms the main story line, and slowly builds to an (almost) exciting story line. However...

Mieville's style is very densely descriptive. In the beginning of the book, this is excellent, as it paints a very dark, depressive, intimate picture of the city and its inhabitants. As the plot unfolds and becomes more pressing, though, this same style and repeated images become an obstacle to getting the story told. At the very moments when tension has been raised to high levels, we step out for two to three pages at a time for more descriptions, effectively destroying the pacing of the story. I think this book could have been considerably improved by some heavy cutting of this material in the latter stages of the book.

There are places where the plot could have been tightened.
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149 of 167 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A journey through hell September 23, 2002
Fantasy can to be said to examine human nature by way of myth and archetype, while science fiction does the same with technological possibilities; and horror explores human nature by route of our deepest fears. Perhaps what is most unique about "Perdido Street Station" is that it does all three, being at once of all those genres and at the same time refusing to be so neatly pigeonholed. For the fantastic elements blur into science, and the horror is present throughout.
The palpable atmosphere of the bloated and decadent New Crobuzon is one of the book's major strengths; and it reflects an irony that soon becomes apparent in Mieville's writing. Using the most beautifully wrought language, he creates a vision of hell to curdle the imagination. One is tempted to look away, but is inevitably sucked in by the seductive melody of his prose--melody that is paradoxically used to create dissonance.
The characters are introduced by degrees, so that they have time to sink into the reader's awareness before disaster strikes. This is a rare accomplishment, given that Mieville chose to make his main characters so potentially incomprehensible to us. Isaac is in love with a woman whose head is an insect--an idea that could have backfired terribly had Lin been any less vivid a personality than she was. As it is, that concept in itself is difficult to accept, as it defies reproductive logic that a race of women with insectile heads should exist; nevertheless, Lin is someone the reader comes to care about, and Isaac is a colorful and wholly original spin on the mad scientist stereotype.
It is difficult to tell if Isaac is in fact the main character, or if it is Yagharek's story after all.
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77 of 93 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Perdido Street: Terminal May 13, 2002
I'm often surprised at how often I find myself on the other side of popular opinion. If I hear enough good things about a book or a movie or a CD, I will try to experience it with positive expectation. I hope to like it. I want to like it. But too often, it seems, I am the only person who walks away feeling cheated, like the artist has simply played a colossal joke on me and used public opinion to lure me into a trap.
Or maybe I'm just paranoid.
Whichever it is, I have fallen prey to the lure of China Mieville's "Perdido Street Station". I even helped trap myself, having read the author's "King Rat" and loved it. But Perdido Street is an exploration without discovery, hype without a product, a whack-arsed fantasy for non-linear thinkers.
Neither of the main characters' stories intrigued me in the slightest, not that of Isaac, who is tasked with returning flight to an angelic birdman whose wings have been torn from his body, not Lin's story, of an insect-headed artist pressed into sculpting the likeness of a crime-boss.
As much as Mieville tries to instill the story with meaning and depth, I was still left wondering what it was all about and why I should care. And to add insult, the author has abandoned the beautiful language of "King Rat" and taken a contemporary tone.
This book is too long, too much weirdness for weirdness' sake, too forced.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars along with clunkers like "caliginous", "etiolated"
There is a number of times an author is allowed to use the word "vertiginous" in a story. That number is less than or equal to one. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Phoquess
4.0 out of 5 stars Like most of his books
Like most of his books, I always end up admiring him even when I find his prose near-impossible to read.
Published 28 days ago by Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Strange, vivid and wonderful
This book rekindled my interest in reading. The ideas are so vivid and strange; it is remarkably well written and the descriptions are poetic. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Rachel Marie
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my very favorite books. This was a reread and I had ...
One of my very favorite books. This was a reread and I had lent my copy to someone .
It's a heady mix of science fiction, fantasy and horror with a keen sense of history. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Rich S
2.0 out of 5 stars Killer MOTHS???
** spoiler alert ** A book with some interesting ideas and entertaining creativity but with a plot that lacked originality or tension. And really... killer MOTHS???
Published 1 month ago by John Lawson
3.0 out of 5 stars it came off as a poor man's Neil Gaiman
Book went on way to long. By the end, I stopped caring for any of the characters and just wanted it to end. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mojo Niesen
2.0 out of 5 stars The world here is complex and fantastic, to be sure
I bought this because I admired "The City and the City" for the skillful way that Mieville created a world and characters to inhabit that world that were equally... Read more
Published 1 month ago by johnzero
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't let the slake moth get you
Possibly the best world building I've read in a long time. Simply fascinating and as someone who read most of Mieville's work before this, I can understand how he had such a... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Robert Deters
5.0 out of 5 stars Layered and brilliant.
An author who pulls and guides the reader, and gives them all they need to understand the themes. Layered and brilliant.
Published 2 months ago by Ghost Writer
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the only sci-fi/fantasy book I've ever recommended to others...
This book is so good that even after they introduced cactus people and a giant sentient vacuum cleaner, I kept reading.
Published 2 months ago by Julianne McGinn
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More About the Author

China Miéville is the author of King Rat; Perdido Street Station, winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the British Fantasy Award; The Scar, winner of the Locus Award and the British Fantasy Award; Iron Council, winner of the Locus Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award; Looking for Jake, a collection of short stories; and Un Lun Dun, his New York Times bestselling book for younger readers. He lives and works in London.

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If this book didn't grab me right away, is it worth the bother?
First of all, if you're grossed out by page 30 you may want to stop now. Things only get darker as you continue... Perdido St station is not a happy book and it's not for all tastes. But if you can handle the horror, my advice is to persevere, as the pace definitely quickens halfway through. This... Read More
Dec 8, 2012 by HelVee |  See all 5 posts
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