Perdido Street Station
By China Mieville
My new favorite book. Seriously — this book is both wonderfully written and incredibly exciting; I couldn’t put it down for a week. (Yes, a book can be wonderfully written but incredibly boring — anything by Charles Dickens comes to mind.)
I guess you’d call China Mieville’s novels “steampunk-ish,” because they’re not exactly steampunk, as I understand — Perdido Street Station doesn’t take place in Victorian England, for one thing — though it’s very much like it. Think steampunk mixed with a small bit of magic and elementalism, with many types of creatures other than mankind.
The story centers (somewhat) around Isaac, an overweight scientist, and his half-human, half-insect lover (yes, lover), a “khepri” called Lin. (Though, they wouldn’t say they’re half-human, half-insect — they claim humans are “khepris with the heads of gibbons.”)
Isaac is approached by a creature known as a Garuda — think half-man, half-bird — who has had his wings ripped off by his people as a form of punishment. Isaac does not know for what, and doesn’t pry — the Garuda has sought him out, due to Isaac’s small bit of noteriety in the field of biomechanics.
…and that’s just where the bloody story begins. The world of Perdido Street Station is absolutely huge, even though the entire story takes place within just one city! I found myself constantly referring to the map at the beginning, just to try and figure out in what section of the city a part of the story was taking place in. (It’s not necessary — I just like looking at maps.)
The book is just absolutely filled with amazing characters, places, and descriptions — Mieville is able to describe this dirty, decrepid city amazingly. You can almost smell the raw sewage, garbage, and shit lining the streets. (The world of Perdido Street Station isn’t quite falling apart, but the people who live there have both forgotten many different scientific subjects, all while learning new ones.)
I’ve already got his other book Iron Council waiting to be read on my bookshelf, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it as much as this one.