"Perdido Street Station": a steampunk classic

by MediaPhile@evpl on Tuesday, February 9 2010, 11:12am. Viewed 668 times.

perdido street stationperdido street stationIf you're in the mood for something really different, try this marvelously inventive fantasy novel.

British author China Mieville (who has a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics) self-describes it as "basically a secondary world fantasy with Victorian era technology...so rather than being a feudal world, it's an early industrial capitalist world of a fairly grubby, police statey kind!"  

First in a trio of novels, "Perdido Street Station" (c2000) is set in the city-state of New Crobuzon in the fictional world of Bas-Lag.  The following two novels, "The Scar" (c2002) and "Iron Council"  (c2004) explore different areas and races of Bas-Lag, so the novels don't have to be read in sequence. 

To give you an idea of the type of creatures you will encounter, here is a list from a review by David Soyka from sfsite.com:

  • moth-like creatures that combine the motifs of Japanese monster movies and vampire allegory;
  • bio-engineered "Remades" upon whom are bizarrely grafted any number of animal and mechanical parts, sometimes to serve a particular function, such as bodyguards with "built-in" weaponry...; in other cases as punishment, such as the baby murdering mother who has her child's limbs attached to her face as a constant reminder of her sin;
  • a giant spider with human hands obsessed with perfecting and protecting the interconnected web of existence that is utterly oblivious to the disastrous consequences its actions have on individual lives;
  • a machine intelligence spontaneously emerging in a junkyard of Victorian-era "steampunk" technology spreading a virus of consciousness to other mechanical constructs;
  • various co-existing species of ambulatory cacti, amphibious, parasitic, demonic, and ornithic creatures;
  • a humanoid insect -- complete with wings, mandibles, and head scarab -- who communicates by hand signals to her human lover

"Perdido Street Station" has won numerous SF/Fantasy awards and has inspired a number of artists to attempt to recreate this complicated world on paper.  Here are some of those images.

new crobuzon

new crobuzonnew crubuzon


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