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Perdido Street Station (Bas-Lag) Paperback – Deckle Edge, February 27, 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 1,215 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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.


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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Del Rey (February 27, 2001)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 710 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0345443020
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0345443021
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.55 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.23 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 1,215 ratings

Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
1,215 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on February 17, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on March 9, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on April 28, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on February 20, 2020
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Top reviews from other countries

David H
5.0 out of 5 stars Fed up of Tolkien? Or not. Either way it’s great
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 14, 2018
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fed up of Tolkien? Or not. Either way it’s great
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 14, 2018
This book is long. Really long. Like nearly a 1000 pages long. It is fantasy after all.

But it's not fantasy as you know it. Mieville, as always, bucks the trend and sticks every middle finger and tentacle up at fantasy stereotypes. You won't find elves here, instead finding humanoid insects and living, breathing cacti.

Mieville's worldbuilding and prose are dense and at times difficult, but I did not once find myself tempted to stop. There's a distinct danger of attempting to read the book cover to cover, something I'm not sure is even possible with such a hefty tome (if you need an extra little bit of justification to buy the paper copy, it would make a handy door stop or paperweight or blunt-force weapon should you be burgled).

It's hard to decide which bit I liked most: the depth and connection with the characters (a difficult feat in fantastic literature, especially when key characters include a mysterious giant bird man (who lost his wings, of course) and an anthropomorphised insectoid artist.), the quality of the prose or the gripping plot. Yes, it's not perfect, every book has its flaws. This is certainly a more literary and weird version of the fantastic than many readers will be used to. But the rewards are worth it.

You should go into this with the full knowledge that you will soon be purchasing the sequels, and lamenting the fact that only three exist in the series. At a push, I'd say The Scar manages to trump Perdido, which you may find hard to believe when reading it. You'll then go on to buy Mieville's entire catalogue. It's a good thing the paper copies are so well designed; I have one very well decorated shelf in my book case. After completing Bas Lag, I'd recommend (well, anything) Embassytown or The City & The City, which the BBC just released a four-part series of. That Perdido Street Station has not had the GoT treatment yet is criminal.

Halfway through reading the book I had already purchased both sequels, and given copies to three friends. Why are you still reading? Buy it now. I don't think I could ever recommend a book more.

If you found this review useful in any way I’d be super grateful if you clicked the “helpful” button below to let me know :)
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68 people found this helpful
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Kayleigh O.
1.0 out of 5 stars God I tried, I really really tried...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 1, 2019
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22 people found this helpful
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Christopher Carrion
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best fantasy novel I have ever read.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 26, 2018
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Barry Mulvany
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a work of mad imagination and I have never read anything like it before
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 21, 2020
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captain k.
5.0 out of 5 stars Perilous quest for science
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 6, 2018
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