Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Outsider Book of the Month- November 09 e-issue #5: Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

Perdido Street Station
By China Mieville
Review by Nickolas Cook

Since his first novel, KING RAT, author China Mieville has been creating modern cross genre classics. With PERDIDO STREET STATION he continues to astonish his readers and liberate them from the tired literary tropes that have choked genre fiction for more than a decade. Part science fiction, part horror, and part social revolutionary tract, PERDIDO STREET STATION manages to break free from the stifling shadows of the very genres from which it's been lovingly tendered, to create a new animal of much worth.
Isaac, a cloistered scientist searching for hidden truths, is approached by a mystical birdman from the Garuda tribe, who must find his lost ability of flight. But there are secrets within secrets, and, soon, Isaac finds himself part of a larger government plot to keep quiet the escape of a creature so deadly that nothing can stop it.
The story is as multi-faceted and complex as New Crobuzon itself- the city in which many of his tales take place. Crowded with subtly layered characters, despicable villains, far seeing metaphysical scientists, human animals, and animalistic humans, this is not a book for the casual reader. This is a tale that demands your attention and mental complicity, for it will challenge your sense of morals and your emotions as few modern books do. There are scenes tragic as Shakespeare, along side scenes as horrific as the most extreme of horror novels. Mieville knows how to tread the line between socio-political examination and good old story telling. He manages to find closure for a cast of dozens in such a smooth fashion that you forget how many characters have become involved in his telling. With a style that's an admixture of M. John Harrison's socially philosophical bend, and Clive Barker's ability to make even the most hideous perversely erotic, Mieville makes his genius look so simple from the outside. But like his city of New Crobuzon, each avenue leads to another rich stretch of road, and more tales to be told, and nothing is as simple as it first appears.

--Nickolas Cook