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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

Perdido Street Station

Copyright 2000 by China Mieville

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Very good (4/5)

I first read this on the 8th February 2002.

In another reality, in a magical steampunk world, there's a city, "New Crobuzon". It's a Victorian mixing pot of humans, cyborgs and alien races mired in degradation and ruled by callous and brutal government.

Our primary protagonist is Isaac Grimnebulin, a ambitious but undisciplined scientist. His unconventional ideas have led him to be partially ostracised by the scientific establishment. Now his laboratory is a loft filled with equipment stolen from his university. He buys his experimental materials from the criminal underworld. His friends are artists and his lover is an alien khepri - a half-human, half-insect female. Still he's working away on his unified field theory as best he can in these difficult circumstances,

But now he has a new patron, a commission and some serious funds. His lover Lin has also found a new patron, or rather the patron has found her.

But there's some serious danger, life-threatening danger, in both of these commissions for the two lovers. The city itself will be under threat, Isaac and his accomplices will face horror, death and betrayal in their attempts to save themselves and their city.

Horrible, horrible. No, not the book of course, that's excellent. I'm talking about the intricate world Mieville's created. It's a tar pit of betrayal, disfigurement and death. He does go on a little self-indulgently about how grimy and grotty everything is. And there are just too many monsters and aliens. It's as though he's making them up whenever he needs a touch more griminess or grottiness.

There are great characters: Isaac himself of course, Lin his lover, Derkhan, Yagharek, Motley, Lemuel Pigeon and the alien Weaver.

It's a very good book. I enjoyed reading it and especially look forward to reading it again in a year or two, and in the meantime I'll dream sometimes of New Crobuzon's dark streets and colourful people.

Loaded on the 17th February 2002.
Cover of Perdido Street Station