Website & fanzine of the SF fan club USS Hudson Bay, Toronto, Canada






Perdido Street Station
by China Miéville
(Del Rey, 2001)

[Perdido Street Station has won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the British Fantasy Award for Best Novel, and was a finalist for the 2001 World Fantasy Award and 2002 Hugo Award. This book review appeared in the November/December 2002 issue of The Voyageur—Ed.]

Reviewed by Eric Layman

At the forks of the Tar and Canker rivers sprawls the metropolis of New Crobuzon. This novel sprawls, too. Miéville's Dickensian attention to details of work and street life makes New Crobuzon's teeming ugliness vividly plausible. Neil Gaiman's subterranean London in Neverwhere is good; this is better.

The air reeks with miasmas of factory and alchymical lab. Opulence and squalor rub shoulders in neighbourhoods inhabited by a kaleidoscopic mix of workers, vendors, artists, and criminals both minor and major; of humans, Re-mades, and machines turning sentient; of arcane races like the winged garuda and insectile khepri.

Always looming in the distance is the mysterious Parliament. Less distant and more feared are its militia and spies.

Isaac, a gifted scientist just beyond the pale of respectability, accepts a commission to restore wings to Yagharek, a mutilated garuda. Meanwhile, Isaac's exotically beautiful khepri lover Lin accepts a commission from Re-made crime lord Mr. Motley.

A lifelong researcher in Crisis Theory, Isaac has had many strange experiences, but none like this commission. Frustrations notwithstanding, his hungry curiosity and sympathy for Yagharek keep him from giving up. To learn the principles of flight, he amasses a huge collection of winged creatures. One is a rainbow-coloured caterpillar that feeds on the hallucinogen dreamshit, growing larger and hungrier until the time comes to spin its cocoon.

What breaks out of the cocoon terrorizes New Crobuzon to the point that even the Ambassador of Hell refuses to face it. Erstwhile enemies are desperate enough to stop the terror, that they become allies—offering hope of sorts, provided some of the allies don't turn out worse than the present enemy.

Isaac, seeing no alternative, is willing to risk his life in this fight against evil. His, and others'...

Miéville's tendency to create sympathetic figures, then kill them or irreparably damage them, may be upsetting. And you may not like his answer to the question: Is it ever justifiable to deceive someone into becoming a sacrifice for a greater good?

That said, the characters are better than well drawn. And however you like the ending, the story should hold you till you reach it.

Send comments to

Interviews, Speeches, Articles | Voyageur Home
Upcoming Events & Conventions | Club History Main
Site Editor & Site Problems

Copyright © 2002, Infinite Diversity International Corporation. All rights reserved.
Contents may not be reproduced without the permission of the Webmaster .
This is a non-profit fan club website and there is no intention to infringe
on the copyrights, trademarks, etc. of any person or entity in any matter whatsoever.