“Perdido Street Station” by China Mieville

Imagine Victorian, industrial revolution London.  Gritty.  Dirty.  Vulgar.  Incredible class division and inequity.  Now throw in a bunch of crazy humanoid creatures like women with scarab beetles for heads, flying dwarf monkeys, sentient cacti, living blobs that can mold water into different forms, and people with bird heads and massive wings.  Welcome to New Crobuzon.

Perdido Street Station is the nexus of the city, where all the train lines meet.  Isaac the scientist is the center of all the lines of thought from different scientific disciplines.  He needs such synthesis to help Yag, one of the bird men, get back the ability to fly.

I like Isaac’s approach to science.  He gathers tons of books and scores of examples of flying creatures to study.  He has to fully understand flight before he can give it back to Yag.  Then there is the engineering.  Isaac comes up with his crisis theory solution rather quickly, but it’s a long, iterative process to putting the theory to use in a working system.  Usually in the real world, the scientist and the engineer are not the same person….

In the course of his studies, Isaac inadvertently sets loose a group of dream-eating flying monster “slake-moths.”  His work for Yag is sidetracked as he and his compadres try to stop the menace.  The corrupt government, a drug kingpin’s mob, a spontaneously generated artificial intelligence, and an extra-dimensional giant spider join in the fun.

Yep.  This book has it all.

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One response

  1. […] Fiction Runner-up: Perdido Street Station. […]

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