Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
Captivating. Sprawling. Fecund. Oh my. Mieville is an architect working in words. Some authors get lost in their love of language, swept up in the sound and feel of phrases without paying attention to the images they generate, but Mieville keeps a tight rein on his metaphors. Every time I stopped to thought-check a lush description, it made complete sense. It’s a decadent read.
New Crobuzon, the setting, expands without bounds. You finally feel familiar with the scope of things, when a new leaf unfurls, and there’s another landscape to absorb. But despite Mieville’s inexhaustible inventiveness, he weaves each creation skillfully into the story. Remades, mechanically altered into frightening hybrids. Khepri, the insectoid hive-culture; vodyanoi, the frog-mages; garuda, the desert eagle tribesmen. Academics, artists, religious fanatics, mob bosses. These are just a few of the vivid characters populating New Crobuzon – not to mention the other worlds it brushes against.
The book features renegades and outcasts. It’s about what people will compromise, what they won’t, and the sinister, senseless tolls that heroics demand. These people become heroes not because they’re heroic, but because heroism is the last option they have.
One question: are the “crisis maths” plausible/vague enough to be acceptable, or are they annoying? Math-minded readers – help a blogger out?
The 213 in 2013 series chronicles every book I read in 2013. Each review contains exactly 213 words, because 2013 words is too long and 2013 characters is too dang short.