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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
British author China Miéville’s highly praised first novel, King Rat, was a lively debut and one of the most adventurous urban dark fantasy tales in memory. In his follow-up book, Perdido Street Station, Miéville offers a vibrant and vivid setting for an innovative, complex, and fascinating tale of a land that exists in the gray realm between sorcery and science.
All manner of aliens and humans coexist in the strange, world-spanning city of New Crobuzon. Here, dark magic and advanced science flourish amid an atmosphere of mysticism and madness, under a government that uses cruel military repression to enforce its laws. Independent cultures and civilizations exist side by side, occasionally overlapping and breeding increasingly grotesque oddities. Mutants and hybrids of every order can be found: those with extra limbs grafted to their bodies or with their heads joined to arcane machinery.
Scientist Isaac der Grimnebulin seeks to verify his unified theory that will link alchemy, biology, and mechanics into what he calls “crisis energy.” He is visited by the wealthy Yagharek, who belongs to the Garuda, a race capable of flight. Yagharek, though, has had his wings cut from him as punishment for an obscure crime, and he seeks assistance from Isaac to recapture his ability to fly. Isaac engages in wild experimentation as he tries to help, growing more and more obsessive in his lab while he delves deeper into magic and fantastic technology. He gathers together numerous flying creatures and imprisons a mysterious giant caterpillar that feeds on a hallucinogen, giving it the ability to induce nightmares in others and steal their dreams. When the caterpillar metamorphoses and escapes the lab, it terrorizes the denizens of New Crobuzon, leaving its victims mindless zombies and bringing the full wrath of Parliament down on Isaac’s head.
Miéville crosses genres and delves deeply into his imaginative resources dealing with the nature of beauty, hell, science, and, love. The author’s strengths as a storyteller lie in his ability to take the reader smoothly from fantastical elements and social ideology to abhorrent science fantasy in an inviting manner. The landscape here is incredibly brutal and strange, but we are immediately drawn into the eerie and unearthly details of life in New Crobuzon. The dark splendor of the city itself is a brilliant and convincing contrivance. Miéville's bizarre and imaginative characters are as pleasantly puzzling as they are engaging, making each a significant part of the greater fabric of this weird and enticing world. Wildly inventive, droll, and at times farcical, Perdido Street Station is a fine addition to a body of work that is already filled with captivating, daring, and evocative novels. (Tom Piccirilli)
Tom Piccirilli is the author of eight novels, including Hexes and Shards, and his Felicity Grove mystery series, consisting of The Dead Past and Sorrow's Crown. He has sold more than 100 stories to the anthologies Future Crimes, Bad News, The Conspiracy Files, and Best of the American West II. An omnibus collection of 40 stories titled Deep into That Darkness Peering is also available. Tom divides his time between New York City and Estes Park, Colorado.>