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Perdido Street Station Book Review Delanyesque Science-Fantasy novel

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  • Amy Harlib
    Just read this book which IMHO is of great interest to Delany fans---not a spam---just sharing. -- Amy Harlib aharlib@worldnet.att.net Perdido Street Station
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 2, 2000
      Just read this book which IMHO is of great interest to Delany fans---not a
      spam---just sharing.
      Amy Harlib
      Perdido Street Station by China Mieville (Macmillan, UK, Mar 00)
      16.99UK hardcover ISBN 0-333-78172-4

      China Mieville, author of one previously published dark fantasy novel, King
      Rat, a very distinguished debut with a contemporary London setting as the
      backdrop of a clever reworking of the Pied Piper legend, now ventures into
      far more phantasmagorical realms with his sophomore effort, a science
      fantasy epic so astonishingly good I can't praise it too highly!
      Perdido Street Station is set in an urban-gothic fantasy metropolis of
      Crobuzon, sprawling and seething with weird technology and thaumaturgy and
      teaming with diverse inhabitants of all sorts of human and sentient
      non-human persuasions. Magical and 'steampunk' technology co-exists, there
      being Babbage computing engines, coal-powered robot 'constructs' and an
      underclass of biomagically 'Remade' victims of harsh judgements who may be
      part-machine, part-animal, or wholly horrific.
      The plump, eccentric amateur scientist Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin is
      approached by a visiting Garuda---a winged being now stripped of his wings
      as punishment for a crime he commited amongst his own kind (about which he
      is taciturnally reticent), who hopes to buy back the power of flight. The
      resulting research project produces an unforseen concatenation of monstrous
      consequences in which a deadly horror is unleashed---so powerful is it that
      even the demons of Hell are too frightened to fight it (declining when New
      Crobuzon's corrupt government begs help from the ambassador of the
      It is up to Grimnebulin and his rag-tag group of cronies to do what they
      to deal with the flying terror, these protagonists including: Isaac's khepri
      lover (a sculptress from a hybrid human-bodied/scarab beetle-headed
      insectoid race); Yagharak the garuda; a gutsy lady reporter for a viciously
      supressed subversive newspaper; the clandestine group-mind of New Crobuzon's
      constructs; a secret traitor; a gangster-for-hire; and the Weaver (a truly
      unique giant intelligent spider with uncanny dimension-spanning powers).
      Mieville's writing skill is such that he makes all this fit together in a
      feat of imaginative creativity, devising a truly original setting of
      Heironymous Boschean decadent complexity and atmosphere written with stylish
      expertise equal to any of the masterful works of Jack Vance or Gene Wolfe or
      Mervyn Peake or Samuel Delany.
      Here are thoroughly dimensional
      characters, quirky and flawed and utterly believable whether human or
      non-human or mixed. Here is a background of dazzling intricacy, rich in
      gothic atmosphere, bizarre cultural diversity and 'local color'. Here is a
      wildly exciting and thrilling plot that relentlessly grips the reader and
      never lets go until the unexpected ending. (But be warned---there is a lot
      of totally appropriate contextual darkness here, some non-gratuitous
      gross-outs, and plenty of true-to- life cursing).
      Perdido Street Station so splendid, so vivid, so clever (Mieville's use of
      terms such as garuda and khepri from our own global mythic heritage to evoke
      imagery), one hates for it to end (at 700 plus pages it leaves one craving
      for more!), awestruck by its refreshing and ingenious approach to fantastic
      fiction. This extraordinary tour de force of the imagination deserves the
      highest awards and encomiums! What wonders will Mieville gift us with next?
      His talent should be nurtured in order to continue to enrich us all!
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