Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

Summary from Goodreads:

Beneath the towering bleached ribs of a dead, ancient beast lies the city of New Crobuzon, where the unsavory deal is stranger to no one--not even to Isaac, a gifted and eccentric scientist who 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 encountered. Though the Garuda's request is scientifically daunting, Isaac is sparked by his own curiosity and an uncanny reverence for this curious stranger. Soon an eerie metamorphosis will occur that will permeate every fiber of New Crobuzon--and not even the Ambassador of Hell will challenge the malignant terror it evokes.


Perdido Street Station opens with a prologue that is very verbose, describing the filth and squalor of New Crobuzon. It's not just the prologue, China Mieville lays it on thick for the most part. Perhaps too thick, that you feel like you've actually just been coated in muck. Which means that the wordy writing (which I tend to do too, look how long this sentence is!) achieves it's purpose, establishing a rich and distinctive atmosphere. So rich, that New Crobuzon has just been catapulted to the top spot of the list of literary places that I don't want to visit, along with Mordor and 17th century Paris.

Also notable is the worldbuilding. China Mieville seems to excel in establishing a strong sense of place with considerable detail of geography, social structure, culture and political system. And then there's the plethora of inhabitants that include bug-like, bird-like, frog-like and gargoyle-like beings, bio-engineered humans, parasitic disembodied hands, cactus people, giant dream-sucking moths, loony giant spiders and more!

The plot just like the writing is a bit dense, Mieville likes to throw in sciencey ideas and political upheavals and more creatures that you can shake a stick at. So there is a bit of branching here and there. Plus a mcguffin. But you can easily trace the main story line which is that of an adventure story, focusing on the hunting of the dangerous slake-moths. It's exciting and gripping and heart rendering, with twists and turns that will make your head spin. 

The characters, I found, have high "rootability". A motley crew of outcasts. A rebel scientist, a seditionist journalist, a crook, an exiled humanoid bird, a khepri artist. I mean, look at that line up. What's not to like? Characters who have fallen out of favor of their own community's laws, by their own choice. And ended up having to save the said city that wants to boot them out, by their own choice. I pulled for the gang to the very end. 

The ending, though. I really wanted to see Yagharek fly and was this short of handing him some pixie dust, if I could. Isaac has been "Yag, old son-ing" about the crisis theory and potential energy and static states and deviations for the longest time! I wanted to see that engine in action! And Yag! Yag, old son! He has come so far! But alas, China Mieville says the world is bleak and horrible, and we don't always get what we want. And I have long since made peace with this conclusion. Besides moral dilemmas will break your brain. 


  1. I've finally made peace with it, now. Haha! :D

  2. Since the beginning, I doubted that the crisis theory will make Yag fly. Haha! Nega.

    1. Grabe naman. Or na sales talk lang siguro ako masyado ni Isaac. Haha. :)


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