Perdido Street Station

Since Hisham updated the blog and enabled sort by categories, it became woefully clear that our Books category is sadly lacking. Which is a shame, considering that Hisham and I are both avid readers.

I’ve decided to start blogging about the books I’m reading as sort of a book review (while trying not to put out too many spoilers). I finished reading Perdido Street Station by China Mieville on Sunday. Let’s start here, shall we?

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Mieville has created a world where humans and non-human sentient beings live together, where current issues such as racism, poverty and class differences are expanded and complicated due to the non-human subclasses. These “xenons” include water creatures called Vodyanoi, insect creatures called Khepri, and birdlike creatures called the Garuda. In this world he created, magic and science work together (field named “bio-thaumaturge”, etc.).

The story takes place in a city called New Crobuzon where a brilliant but non-conforming scientist named Isaac lives and works. He is commissioned to solve a problem involving flight, but his solution has larger implications to science overall. His private life is happy but complicated (some taboos involving his sexual practices – I won’t give it all away), and all of this is affected when a terrible predator is loose in New Crobuzon. This new predator terrorizes and picks off the citizens of this hugely bizarre city. Isaac must find a way to capture and kill the being before he and his friends are hunted down by the predator and the government.

The cast of characters include a corrupt Government, mafia-like criminal organizations, species specific ghettoes, friends from different backgrounds, rebels against the Government, and mysterious Garuda visitors. I see New Crobuzon as Gotham meets Coruscant, but seedier and grittier than I ever imagined the underside of Gotham to be. Mieville has created an amazingly rich world where we can draw parallels to our world and to the same issues that do happen and might worsen in our own world.

A wonderful read – it took me almost 3 weeks to finish this 600+ page book because I’ve been really busy with work. Also I realize that even though Perdido Street Station was the size of a normal pocketbook, the pages were paper thin (I’d read 150 or so pages when I thought, man, I should be more than a quarter of the way through it, and that’s when I realized how many pages were in the book!). Mieville uses quite a few words that not only had I not only seen before but I couldn’t even figure out the root in order to approximate its meaning without the help of the context of the sentence. Some of these words are: ineluctable, eructations, oneiric and abseiled. I had to look them all up in my dictionary.

Looking forward to his next book, The Scar.

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