OT: Perdido Steet Station

Mon Feb 24 08:52:13 PST 2003

I just finished reading a novel titled _Perdido Street Station_ by China 
Mieville and thought that it may be of interest to some of you.

It's one of those novels that hard to catagorize by genre.  It is most 
similar, IMO, to Michael Swanwick's _The Iron Dragon's Daughter_ in that it 
is set it a world that combines aspects of fantasy and gritty industrial 
technology, although it has a heavy steampunk flavor as well (e.g., 
Babbage-like computing machines).

This is China Mieville's second book and it has some of the rough edges that 
one would associate with a new author.  Among its basic faults, there are a 
few points where the book descends into thaumaturgic techno-babble, there 
are points where the descriptive flavor gets away from him, and there is one 
sequence where a specific person, who has barely even been mentioned, shows 
up and saves the day.  That said, it is an immensely inventive and 
captivating story.

Mieville clearly has the soul of a poet.  His use of prose is beautiful even 
when dealing with things that are utterly stark and ugly.  Likewise, he has 
a keen sense of characterization that must be admired.

Since much of the delight of the book is in discovering the story, I don't 
want to give too much of the actual plot away.  I will say that it starts 
(more or less) with a meeting between a renegade scientist (Isaac) and a 
Garuda (a type of bird-man) who has has his wings cut off for a violation of 
his tribes codes of conduct.  The Garuda wants Isaac to restore his ability 
to fly.

>From there the story developes along a number of tangents eventually leading 
to events and consequences which are quite horrific.

Be warned that this is a brutal story.  Mieville is not an author who is 
afraid of treating his protagoists poorly.  In fact, if there is a moral to 
the story, I think that it would be that one must honor their 
responsibilities and attempt to do good to the best of their ability, but 
that one should not expect that the universe, or anyone else, will reward 
one for doing so.

At any rate, it is rare to find such a promising author so early in his 
career.  I would definitely advise taking a look.

MSN 8 with e-mail virus protection service: 2 months FREE*