China Mieville creates a wicked, depraved, suffocating post-Apocalyptic society in Perdido Street Station. His words pour forth in a cascade of vivid violence that drips, sloshes, reeks, curdles, and oozes into your unconscious, leaving a slimy path of rotten entrails in its wake. This is a rich pile of steampunk compost, nourishing nightmares and leaving you grasping at 3 a.m. for the light and your paperback, eager to continue his tale.
Mieville's imagination is nothing short of astonishing. He devises a unique Gotham in New Crobuzon, covering every inch with neighborhoods, districts, slums, and stations and describing them in exhaustive detail. His cast of characters runs the gamut from human to computer construct; from gentle, bohemian aphids to soul-slurping moths; from demons whose dulcet tones echo harrowing screams to giant man/birds whose community exacts vicious justice. And I will not soon forget the stream-of-consciousness spewing spider, the doomed renegade journalists, the brave but hapless scientists, and a crazed crime boss who remakes himself into a monster.
The plot? Oh, I won't spoil. I'm not certain that I could- it's so huge and unfocused and unfinished. There is an adventure that sees a sort-of end, but Mieville leaves enough threads dangling to envision a return to New Crobuzon.
My gripe is for the lack of editing. And it's a very big gripe, indeed. Heaps and chunks could have been left on the cutting room floor, to rot away instead of festering along. Mieville shoots down his own intense pacing, particularly at the end, by dragging his reader through a mire of diarrhetic detail. The degree of exposition reads very self-congratulatory and arrogant. Had the author used less space for description, he may have had the time and energy to sew up the holes rent in his plot.
Yet, Mieville's world is intoxicating; not as much as the dreamshit drug his slake-moths crave, but enough to take this tender reader through 634 pages of a genre that is just not really her style.(less)