My Year With China and the Station

Perdido Street Station

Perdido Street Station

9/10 (+1)

It’s been a while since I’ve read the word “thaumaturgy” and here I find it a relatively normal part of China’s world…happy doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt when I first read the word in this novel!

It’s not always easy setting foot into a China Miéville universe. The first couple steps, maybe even the first walk around the block, can be quite disorienting. And this even if you’ve read him before. This was definitely the case for me. Perdido Street Station is, like Embassytown, very disorienting when you first start reading as Miéville simply writes as though you’ve lived in the particular universe all along (now, let it be known that he does a better job of introducing you to the universe gradually in Perdido than in Embassytown). It does take a bit to get into it; once you’ve read the first 50-100 pages you get a feel for the place, the terms, the people, the lifestyles. And he takes a surprising amount of time getting to the heart of the story. But that is one of the things that makes this novel so enticing is that you actually live in New Crobuzon for a good portion of the novel before the major action begins.

Here, as usual is a good outline of the novel,

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 . . . (from amazon.com)

The best way to get an idea as to whether or not you may like this, or any other Miéville novel, is simply to take the plunge.

“Art is something you choose to make… it’s a bringing together of… of everything around you into something that makes you more human, more khepri, whatever. More of a person.”
― China Miéville, Perdido Street Station

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