Roy Tang

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Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon, #1)Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Perdido Street Station is a difficult book to read, which is why it took me a lot of time to get through it (and this was my second attempt too! I had to restart because I did not even get very far the last time and did not retain anything).

Not because the plot is convoluted or anything like that. If anything, it’s kind of straightforward. Rogue scientist accidentally sets loose terrible evil and must fix things and save everybody before the government and the gangsters and everyone else hunt him down. Somewhere in between there are themes of interspecies relationships, authoritarian governments, being ostracized, rogue AIs, revolutionary discoveries, etc. Basically, more or less.

No, the problem with the novel is that the setting is ridiculously out of this world, there is literally nothing like it out there. So much so that you crawl through the novel at a slow pace, dissecting the author’s vivid descriptions and trying to piece them together into something you can reasonably visualize in your imagination. From the very first chapter which describes Isaac and Lin’s unusual relationship you can easily see that this book is very unusual.

Moreso than the characters or the plot, the book is centered around the city in which it takes place, the city of New Crobuzon in the fictional world of Bas-Lag. This is made obvious by the way the author painstakingly details the ins and outs of the grimy, crowded, kind-of-steampunk metropolis as the characters weave through it, and every major event comes with it a few pages of how the multispecies denizens are affected. Thus, the plot itself moves with a sluggish pace that some may give up on.

It is a fantastic work of fiction, to be sure. But it may be too different for some, with too many new things to imagine and to visualize.

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roytang.net is a personal site, an E/N site, and kind of a commonplace book; I post about a random assortment of topics that interest me including software development, Magic the Gathering, pop culture, gaming, and tech life. This site is perpetually under renovation.