➳ [Reading] ➶ Perdido Street Station By China Miéville ➩ – Wildlives.co
DNF at 11% Go me and stuff.Yet another overhyped book with a cult following bites the dust Yay I obviously read this one wrong Or maybe I read it right but didn t enjoy it because I d mistakenly purchased the Swahili version and read it back to front and upside down This is the most plausible explanation, since I don t belong to the People of Despicable Book Taste Horde PoDBTH and always read books right Had I bought the English version, I m pretty sure I wouldn t have noticed how excruciatingly boring the story is Or thought that reading the book was a tedious chore than being on cleaning duty at the barnacle shed But I didn t, so I did Bloody stinking fish, rarely have I had to suffer through such painfully overdescriptive prose And I thought The Lies of Locke Lamora was bad Silly little shrimp that I am Locke Lamora is a complete joke compared to this painfully harrowing effort, like reading one of Noddy s fascinating adventures or something Anyway, I have to admit this wasn t completely unexpected I mean, I was going to read the ebook version of this most beguiling tale but a friend whom I shall be eternally full of grate to mentioned the book was awfully, um, generous, in the details department, and recommended I listened to the audio version to ease the pain enjoy the book to its full potential That was one of the mostest brilliantest ideas ever, I have to say I m pretty sure I wouldn t have made it past the prologue, had I read the printed version Okay, so I didn t make it past the 11% mark, which isn t much better, but that s completely irrelevant right now Of course it is Anyway, the cool thing about the audio for this book is that, even if you forget to hit the pause button while you re busy slaughtering puny humans running errands, you don t miss a bloody shrimping thing Because then you come back and realize the narrator is still babbling about the same stuff he was rambling about half an hour before How cool is that Talking about the lovely narrator I m pretty sure Mr John Lee is a positively delightful human being, but never in my crustacean life have I listened to a pompous, overly theatrical narration It sounded like the guy was chanting ancient poetry, for fish s sake Okay, in his defense, Mi ville s exceedingly convoluted and needlessly wordy writing probably didn t help his performance Quite the Perniciously Deadly Combination PDC these two make So Long story short I got to chapter 8 and started feeling a teensy little bit like My murderous troops obviously started getting very concerned about my mental health, so I decided to hit the pause button one gloriously final time, and proceeded to DNF the fish out of this most wondrous piece of literature Yes, I did it for the kids sake I hate to see them distressed, you see Had it not been for them, I would gladly have continued listening to this delightful story Obviously Right Absolutely Indeed No doubt about that and stuff Okay, so to be disgustingly honest, it kinda sorta sucks big time that I was forced to DNF this book against my nefarious will Because, to be revoltingly candid, the world Mi ville created here is pretty fishing amazing and creative and original and unique and beautifully dark and stuff Also, the very diverse cast of characters and creatures is pretty shrimping awesome Especially Lin the insectoid artist Yeah, she s sort of cool for a, um, you know, bug And I m kind of an expert on the topic I mean, I survived the shudders pre emptively Sirantha Jax Debacle of Doom and Oblivion and Epic Proportions SJDoDaOaEP , so I know a lot about hexapod invertebrates in books, and how they can viciously and most thoroughly ruin potentially stupendous series and stuff Damn, I m convulsing just thinking about it Better change the subject before my allergic reaction comes back in full swing, and my exoskeleton starts getting all swollen and blotchy and stuff I m trying I m trying But this Sirantha Jax business was ever so slightly traumatizing and stuff, so I might need a few gallons of whisky to numb the somewhat excruciating pain and calm the fish down.The End And the moral of this Surprise Surprise I Just DNFed a Book with a Stellar Average Rating and Glowing Reviews Now That is Most Uncommon Indeed Crappy Non Review is SSIJDaBwaSARaGRNTiMUICNR this story could have been wrondrously wondrous Only that it wasn t Oh well Pre review nonsenseListening to 2.42 hours of this book felt like losing 30 years of my life Patting my little self on the exoskeleton for DNFing the fish out of it I mean, had that not been the case, I m pretty sure I would have gone extinct before getting to the 50% mark Full Phew Bloody Stinking Fish That Was Close This One Nearly Did Me In and Stuff Crappy Non Review PBSFTWCTONDMIaSCNR to come. I feel like I ve been reading this book forever It s long, largely unstructured, and I never became particularly invested in any of the characters, so it just dragged on The best thing I could say about it is that it s diverting One of the quotes on the back describes it as phantasmagoric, which seems accurate All sorts of crazy random things, soul devouring moth creatures, interdimensional homicidal spiders, creative reconstructive surgery as state punishment That s all amusing to a degree, enough to keep boredom at bay while waiting in line or riding the train.Which is not to say that this is a work of complete and utter novelty All kinds of fantasy and scifi tropes, sentient parasite societies, machines acquiring intelligence, hawk people, oppressive government, blah blah There are also passages like this The glass was painted opaque It vibrated minutely in eldritch dimensions, buffeted by emanations from within and Dark figures slid expertly, at breakneck speed, the length of the cords They came in a constant quick drip They looked like glutinous clots dribbling down the entrails of the disemboweled airships I mean, yes, hilarious, but imagine having to say these things out loud.Ultimately, the author who s smug mug defaces the back cover in possibly the worst author photo I ve suffered to date seems far too obsessed with the little hodgepodge world he s thrown together, too eager to throw in every little wouldn t it be cool if moment he ever imagined instead of focusing on the story Maybe I just didn t like his writing Or the fact that he used the word bituminous on practically every page That and ichor Anyway, I don t recommend it. New Crobuzon Is A Squalid City Where Humans, Re Mades, And Arcane Races Live In Perpetual Fear Of Parliament And Its Brutal Militia Isaac, A Brilliant Scientist, Is Asked By A Bird Man Garuda To Restore His Power Of Flight But One Lab Specimen Threatens The Whole City A Vividly Colored Caterpillar Eating A Hallucinatory Drug Grows In Order To Consume All My friends call me Senex The Old Man because of my taste in fantasy, or they would, if I had any It s often been noted that I ll give at least four stars to any fantasy from the Italian Renaissance, and yet rarely give than two for anything written since the nineteen sixties Some have accused me of a staunch prejudice in period, but lo it is not so.I really love the fantasy genre, but the corollary of this is that I hate most fantasy books, because of how they mistreat that which I love Whenever I am called to task for loving old books and despising new ones, I give a silent thanks to China Mieville for writing a book within the last decade that I can, with all honesty and aplomb, say is both eminently enjoyable and well written.There are so many rich veins that run through the history of fantastical literature, from the epics, the matter of France, and fairy tales to metaphysical poetry and the pulps and yet today, the core of the genre is content to keep digging deeper into a spent shaft Mieville s work shines because he divines unusual sources of inspiration and then carefully prises, polishes, and sets them.Fantasy has been tirelessly driven on a myth of the late medieval, so much so that any small deviation is lauded as a unique vision But gladly, Mieville isn t of the school that thinks a gritty, escapist pseudo medieval romance is utterly distinct from a heroic, moralizing pseudo medieval romance He belongs to a much older school several, in fact.One thread Mieville draws on are the Weird authors of early century pulp, who combined horror, fantasy, and science fiction, and didn t delineate where one ended and the other began Science fiction cannot just sit on its laurels like fantasy, if only because it is constantly outstripped by new science and technology.Lovecraft fantasized Verne, LeGuin fantasized Doc Smith, and Mieville has a whole new world of bursting technologies to draw from The information and biotech boom led to an entirely new vision of the future, completely unavailable to writers of the Silver or Golden age, one which was snatched up by the young, hungry, dirty Cyberpunk writers.If there were an easy way to sum up his work, you might say Mieville has written a cyberpunk fantasy , concentrating on the same flawed, sprawling cities, plucky heroes, and confirmation that knowledge is valuable than martial puissance Not since Snowcrash have I read a book that was as fun as it is intelligent Both authors have worlds that are underpinned by ideas and philosophies.For Stephenson, it was the social theory of Jaynes, but for Mieville, it s economics As an economist, he can t help but enumerate the world for him, events unerringly lead back to fundamental causes like need, supply, gain, and zero sum games This isn t overt in his books, it s merely the mechanism that underpins the drive of his plot.Perhaps this explains why he was drawn to a setting reminiscent of the Victorian and not the Medieval, since economic historians suggest that, before this period, economics could hardly have existed as a science, since the fundamental questions which underpin it had no answer in a system based on guild and fealty But once economics bloomed, it did so grandly, such that economics could be the basis for a fantasy or a farce.Yet Mieville s particular economic views are not the theme of the story He is not a moralist, but a cynic, capable of representing the failure of good ideas even one he believes in and the success of harmful ones His gritty realism is not merely a collage of pointless sex, violence, and cruelty like some other fantasy authors I could name , but a representation of necessary evils, difficulties, and desires.But he is not merely a Cyberpunk author dabbling in fantasy, any than Lovecraft was a fantasist who wrote about space aliens Indeed, Mieville takes notes from Lovecraft, remembering that the most interesting magic is that which is only vaguely explained, and which suggests a strange and interesting world beyond the characters understanding I still recall the throwaway line some plankton from a huge brine dimension in The Scar sparking my imagination than entire books by other authors, and of course, evoking the colliding branes of String Theory.The mindless grey goo antagonists are equally Lovecraftian, but Mieville does interesting things with The Weaver, an unfathomable huge spider who exists between space and time So many authors after Lovecraft tried to bring the Mythos closer to human understanding, giving the unknowable beings dialogue and motivation, but nothing kills frighteningly alien creatures faster than poorly written dialogue indeed, I would have said giving the creatures any level of comprehensible consciousness ruins them, but I m glad to be proven wrong.The Weaver is neither ally nor antagonist, nor does his dialogue bring him down to our level If anything, it makes him seem uncanny, since it is easier to shrug off some silent terror than to discover something that almost seems to make sense, but the truths it dances around suggest a world we would not wish to understand, because it is inconceivable, overawing, and deeply ironic.But then, that is the scientific lesson from which Mieville profits on both the micro and macro levels the universe seems to flaunt everything we take for granted The spider could be telling men about Heisenbergian concepts of non causality and total existence failure and be no less right nor any less unnerving.And yet, for all Mieville s gravitas, there is something undeniably frivolous and delightful about his characters They never get so bogged down in their difficulties that they lose the fundamental vivacity with which he endows them It is rare to find an author who deals with such vibrant surrealism, and yet is capable of reigning it in before it overwhelms the story Mervyn Peake might be the master of using carefully rationed absurdism to create a world realistic and believably than any stark vision of Post Modern Realism Like Peake, Mieville s characters and setting are always strange enough to seem unusually real.Some have suggested that this frivolity undermines the very serious questions and ideas he presents elsewhere, but I, for one, am glad to find him capable of reveling in joy, for Nietzsche once observed that excess is not the result of joy, but joylessness.I compared Mieville favorably to Snowcrash, but Stephenson s other books simply cannot measure up to his first success, and it is because they are joyless They delve passionately into ideas and minutia, but do not revel in the characters, the place, or the events I would rather an author dance lightly across his treatise than for a moment begin to imagine that what he writes is portentous and grandiose.Nor does Mieville err too far on the other side of the fantastical for all the implausible absurdity of his setting and characters, he never gives in to the temptation to turn the book into a nonsensical fever dream Unlike Calvino s Invisible Cities, Mieville does not lose himself in the false profundity of metaphysics, and never once suggests the meaningless New Age aphorism that I am remarkable precisely because I know that I am ignorant What is remarkable in the mind of man is the cusp of knowledge, not the unknown that lies beyond it.His story is infused with the search for knowledge and understanding, which plays through all his economic causes, his scientific metaphysical exploration no less far fetched than M theory, and considerably accessible , and, of course, the pseudo scientific interests of his characters What prevents this from dragging down into the sort of detail mashing explanations that can kill a good book or a good idea , is that Mieville is interested in the love of discovery than in stagnating over what is already known.Every book should be as concerned and excited with discovery as readers, we are always discovering, always mulling over, always seeking to turn the next page and renew ourselves with an unexpected turn or the final arrival of some foreshadowed conclusion.By seeking out strange and varied inspirations for his work, Mieville has shown once again that an author is only as good as the works he draws from, and only as original as the ideas he adopts He rejects Tolkien s empty wilderness and ancient stone palisades for Henry Mayhew s London and Gibson s Tokyo He invests his magic with alchemy, quantum theory, and transhuman biotech He replaces heroism and escapism with economic theory and passionate individualism.He has world, character, and plot than most fantasists, and yet it is not overwrought, it is all a romp, all a vivacious and unapologetic adventure Most genre writers not only have higher literary pretensions, but fail to deliver on them, while at the same time having less fun doing it Mieville puts them to shame I can only hope fantasy authors of the future will be inspired by him, and save this genre from itself and its ponderous, long winded Old Guard.My Fantasy Book Suggestions my dear Perdido Street Station,perhaps it is fated not to be or perhaps i need to grow a bit , until i am able to understand and appreciate your unique charms but for now, i am just not ready please don t take this personally i promise that i shall try you out again sometime, perhaps soon too many people love you, and they love you too, too much for me to give up on you altogether i will admit that my first impression was off putting the way you talked and gestured and sought attention only created annoyance but still, i was determined to soldier on, knowing of the wonders that many others have enjoyed in your embrace i thought that there must be something there, some quality underneath all of the affectation and all of the almost desperate attempts to dazzle and to provoke i felt confident that beneath all of the ruffles and ribbons and silky trifles and shiny buttons that there would be something interesting and of value, buried down deep but as i undressed you, instead of a warm beating heart, i found only rococo haberdashery there was no there there but you know, once i felt the same way about samuel delany, about ronald firbank and lo behold i now admire them both, i respond rather quickly to their bold instigations, their often sharp tongues, their secretly dreamy temperaments it just took time and i m sure yours will come as well but not now i simply haven t the energy or patience to get to know you and i am certain, in the end, my affection must mean little to you, Perdido you are too beloved by all to be wounded too deeply by this minor affront please do forgive my rash bout of grappling and its abrupt finish, this lectio interruptus i take full responsibility this i do promiseto be continued we will once again tumble into each other s arms, hoping for some kind of delight or satisfaction this evening was simply not meant to be the housekeeper will take care of the sheets and mess please do me a kind favor and take your leave through the servants entrance til the time of our sweet reunion,yours,mark monday A brilliant page turner.First of all, any book that begins with a quote from Philip K Dick is alright in my book and promises a great story to come This promise was kept, with interest Perdido Street Station by China Mieville is to steampunk weird fiction as Neuromancer was to cyberpunk it is the definitive benchmark An urbane, nightmarish fantasy, Perdido Street Station is similar to Mieville s The City and the City but where the later novel was Monte Python absurd, PSS is Charles Dickens steam punk chic, blending elements of brilliant characterization with fantastic settings and all under the umbrella of Mieville s outrageously creative imagination Mieville makes frequent and entertaining use of simile and metaphor to color his landscape, but may turn a little too often to the thesaurus though the five dollar words don t annoy but rather add to the cacophony of detail created Reminiscent of H.P Lovecraft with his occult, squalid, lurid depictions of an ancient, rotting but still surviving civilization the reader can also glimpse a Robert A Heinlein influence as the Weaver shares many similarities to Heinlein s Martian Old Ones Like The City the City, Mieville s best characterization is the city itself and the arcane world beyond Mieville has summoned up a fantasy world that teems with life and amazing detail This book is unique and incomparable to other works Mieville has demonstrated that he is a trendsetter, a vanguard of a new literature. WARNING This review probably contains some but not many spoilers, so you may not want to read this if you haven t read Perdido Street Station yet This review also contains plenty of vulgarity Please don t read this if you do not want to see the f and other words Thanks.Me reading my review I decided to read this on SoundCloud, since BirdBrian has turned me into a recorded voice madman You can listen right here if you d like.I fucking hate moths Seriously I hate them They freak me out You know how Indiana Jones hates snakes That s how I hate moths I hate them so much that the disdain and fear extends to butterflies I actually made a little girl cry when I was surprised by a butterfly and crushed it between the sole of my shoe and concrete, although I ve never been sure if she cried because I squished the moth or because I let loose with the sanguine battle cry DIE FUCKER Moths and butterflies are frightening, fucking horrible, unholy, unnatural, freaks of fucking nature I sense you wondering why I feel this way Well I ll tell you When I was sixteen years old, I walked out of my bedroom on a Friday night and headed for what I thought was a DD marathon Somewhere upstairs my Dad heard my bedroom door closing and yelled down, Turn off the light Even back then he was a stickler for energy conservation but that had everything to do with being a cheap bastard and nothing to do with the environment I heard him, but I ignored him My friend Pat was honking for me outside, I had a pack full of DD gear, and I was in a hurry I was up the stairs, in my shoes and out the door before anyone could say anything Now I had this fucking bizarre bedroom window You see, I was and am the lightest sleeper the world has ever seen even now I have double blacked windows, wear a black eye mask and 33 decibels ear plugs, and I still wake up at even the slightest shift in the air , and to try and buy me some sleep without hurting the aesthetic of our home a far important concern for my Mom than combating my insomnia , my Dad installed a blind whose efficacy required the removal of my window screen That meant that when my window was open in the summer, which it was the night I was out DDing, my room was open to all creatures great and small mostly small So somewhere between the time I left and the time I came home, my Dad came downstairs to make sure I d turned off my light He opened my door, reached for the light switch, turned off the lights, closed the door and went off to bed himself, but not before the light had attracted some fuzzy, beige, fluttering, dusty fucking creatures That night we didn t play DD Nope that night we ate some mushrooms My first time on hallucinogens And what did I do I invited the creatures of the night into my room At around 4 a.m., I found myself back at home on the downturn of my trip I needed to get to my room, put on some chill out music and a soft light, and just let my cozy room ease me back to reality I opened my door, closed it, flipped on the light switch and was fucking bombarded by HUNDREDS of moths.I fucking lost it I grabbed my squash racket and started killing while I screamed and swore and trashed my room There were probably only about a dozen moths in my room, but those shrooms did their job, and I spent the rest of that long morning obsessing about fluttering wings and the claustrophobic feeling of moth dust and guts settling on my skin, in much the same way that dreamshit settles on the minds of sleeping New Crobuzoners I am sure that you ve figured out why I related this story now.When I first read Perdido Street Station, I was enjoying Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin s search for crisis energy well enough The beauty of China Mi ville s prose and the complexity of New Crobuzon made Isaac s rather pedestrian quest tale, whose goal was providing Yagharek the exiled, wingless Garuda a way to fly again, a compelling read Then came the blindside of the Slake Moths, and my enjoyment was transformed into absolute horror, keep the lights on late at night horror, stomp all fluttering insects into the pavement horror, fucking shit my pants at night from nightmares horror Mi ville dumped the quest and changed the plot and raised the stakes, shifting the tale unexpectedly and fundamentally, and that coupled with the horror of the Slake Moths made me a passionate believer in his writing.For me, the Slake Moths are the most terrifying creation in literature Now I know that much of that is the psychology of my good trip gone bad, but when one considers all of my inadvertent personal subtext that Mieville s Slake Moths feed on fear, and induce fear through their droppings, that their shit is sold as an hallucinogenic drug, that they suck the minds of their victims dry with an interdimensional tongue well, I hope my passion for the Slake Moths will be forgiven.But then, I know that my love for Perdido Street Station goes far beyond my drug induced psychosis China Mi ville s writing bursts with sensuality, intelligence, politics, social commentary, fierce creativity and a thirst for life that is unparalleled And those are just some of the reasons his fans love him.For me, however, my loathing of the order lepidoptra means that Perdido Street Station must and will remain my favourite Mi ville, and Slake Moths will continue to excite and haunt the recesses of my mind until I die. While China Mieville s Perdido Street Station sometimes takes wide detours around the plot, the atmosphere he conjures, with its dark and sinister underpinnings, is interesting and compelling There are parts of the book that make you smell what s happening in this world Let me say this off the bat it s not a good smell Even the way Mieville demonstrates the artistic method in the form of MC s insect girlfriend is rather unique And while it doesn t advance the plot, it had me thinking about the creative process The prose is quite different from The City The City however, there s something about the way Mieveille creates worlds which connects the books and I think challenges readers to become immersed in strange and alien worlds The novel is dense crammed full of ideas and concepts , but it is still accessible I plan to read of this series, but I ll probably reread Perdido Street Station at least one time first 4.5 stars. Lots of people like to accuse China Mi ville of writing with a thesaurus open next to his laptop How else to explain the frequent appearance of ossified, salubrious, susurrus and inveigled within the 623 pages of Perdido Street Station Ok, so you can maybe argue that if you write a 250,000 word book, probably less than six of those words should be palimpsest, but really, I just think he s a smart guy who carefully controls his prose.So the language in The City The City is stripped down and spare, because he is riffing on detective novel tropes Kraken is littered with pop culture references as he turns modern urban fantasy upside down And Perdido Street Station is dripping with ichor grotesquely ornate nouveau Victorian prose because that s the kind of book this is dude clearly read a lot of H.P Lovecraft speaking of which, if you think this is hard to read, just try a few paragraphs of that If you don t want to read something over the top, generally safe to say don t read something by China Mi ville As Roger Ebert likes to say, this one goes so far over the top, it circumnavigates the top and doubles back on itself.Shit I don t mean to swear, but if you are going to read this one, you better be ready for some shit, and some shitting, and things that have recently shat I swear, the only book with shat than this book isbook this book 6426609, how else would you have him describe New Crobuzon A wasted, diseased, dark nightmare metropolis, where an entire neighborhood huddles in the shadows of the skinless ribcage of some ancient felled beast, where a gruff race of living cactus people inhabits a massive, filthy greenhouse, where the polluted waters run thick with eyeless corpses and surgically altered criminals and wingless bird men wander the streets Oh these words are too big What is going on Ok, here you goThe dirty city was brown The brown water ran brownly past the dirty brown banks A brown skinned man in a dirty brown trenchcoat walked brownly through the dirty, brown light I m not saying you are dumb if you don t like this I am saying I like this The world of Bas Lag is like no place I ve been before, so I don t want to hear it described with a bunch of words I hear all the time You don t even have to know what they all mean Think about the word susurrus How does that make you feel I could have said a whispering sound, but things don t make whispering sounds in New Crobuzon, they make susurrus ones Trust me, this is some salubriously ossified vocabulary.Should I talk about, you know, the plot I don t think so I didn t know anything about this going in except that it was set in a big, gross city and probably it was going to be hard to read it wasn t In broad strokes, though it s nuts, which you know to expect if you have read one of this guy s books before If you haven t had any good ideas lately, possibly it is because China Mi ville has been slinking into your bedroom, wraith like, to feast on your dreams conceptual spoiler alert Seriously, I have read four of his books now, and three of them are densely packed with enough cool concepts to fill at least twice that many normal books There is a reason this dude coined a new genre.For all the muchness on display, for all of this book s wandering threads and oh, this would be cool pit stops, it s immensely readable and, you know, quite thoughtful I mean, for a book with a sadistic, eight legged, scissor happy deus ex machinarachnid who talks in poetry and all caps If you can find another book that manages to cram a genuinely well developed sociological argument for Maxrism into the basic plot of Aliens on mushrooms, well let me know I ll read that too Facebook 30 Day Book Challenge Day 11 Book from your favorite author. This Steampunk meets New Weird meets Cyberpunk meets Fantasy novel has so many themes, that I m not even going to try to give it full credit with some sort of synopsis I m rather just going to talk about various aspects of the book as I go along with my review.The way I felt when I finished the novel, I wanted to give it 7 stars For a few reasons, I m having second thoughts.Let me start off the bat with some aspects that niggled me.Firstly, certain aspects of the world building Mieville used a few mythological creatures and creatures tropes from popular culture as a template for creatures that he made his own, which he gave his own unique twist to.One of the things that bothered me a bit was how illogical the physiology of some of Mieville s sentient creatures are The biggest culprit, for me, was the cactus people I suspect that these creatures are a nod to videogaming culture, but I felt that their inclusion detracted from the credibility of the mechanics of Mieville s world.I could almost still live with the idea of having humanoids running around who look like cactus plants it s actually pretty cool in a comic book way, but really cactus plants with human organs who reproduce the way humans do, with males and females, and the females even have breasts Oh, come onnn that detracts a lot from the credence one might still have tried to give the other sentient creatures, most of whom are plucked from the pages of mythology.It might work as Bizarro, but this work isn t entirely Bizarro and for the amount of trouble that Mieville put into his world building, one would expect all the nuts and bolts to fit together better into creating a world that works according to believable rules, but sadly, that is one aspect in which I found the novel lacking.Still the creatures are quite fun and pretty cool Mieville might have taken them out of the pages of world culture, but he made them fun, and he made them his own, and as such they lend a particular imaginative allure to the world of Bas lag.First, there s the scarab headed Kephri from ancient Egypt An Egyptian god who was patron of the sun, creation, life and resurrection In Mieville s world, only the females are sentient, which I found quite a hilarious twist.Then, the Vodyanoi from Eastern Europe These are mischievous water creatures in Eastern European folklore, also called Rusalkas In Mieville s world, they need to remain wet, and have devised various techniques for keeping their skins moist while hob knobbing with the land creatures.Also, the half bird, half human Garuda, one of which is a main character in PSS I simply couldn t resist slipping this awesome artwork,King of Garuda by Jessada Art on deviantART into my review it reminded me so much of the idea that I formed of the Garudas in Mieville s world According to Wikipedia In Hindu religion, Garuda is a lesser Hindu divinity, usually the mount of the God Vishnu Garuda is depicted as having the golden body of a strong man with a white face, red wings, and an eagle s beak and with a crown on his head.Throughout the Mahabharata, Garuda is invoked as a symbol of impetuous violent force, of speed, and of martial prowess Powerful warriors advancing rapidly on doomed foes are likened to Garuda swooping down on a serpent.In Buddhist mythology, the Garuda are enormous predatory birds with intelligence and social organization.Personally, I think Mieville could have tapped out of the mythology surrounding these majestic creatures for instance their antipathy with serpents, shape changing abilities and so on On the other hand, he attached such an interesting sociology to Garudas that I can completely forgive him for leaving out some features of the creatures from myth.As already mentioned, to me most of the tropes worked quite well, because in spite of the nonsensical physiology of, for instance, the cactus people, and perhaps that of the Khepri, the pure imaginative fun and originality of the off kilter physiques make the creatures memorable.Besides the obvious borrowings from mythology, there are aspects which feel like nods to common tropes in comic books, TV shows and video games, some of which are quite humorous.For instance, there s a section where a cleaning machine becomes sentient because of a virus in its programming, the process of which, as Mieville describes it, was pretty hilarious I laughed out loud He had a pretty funny depiction as well of sentient computing machines self organizing and wanting to take over the world, which was excellent satire on both the actual internet and on tropes of the oh so prevalent pop theme of sentient robots wanting to take over the world.What made the whole AI theme really interesting and uber fun, is that the book is set in a Steampunk background, so all the computing machines run on steam..and they re that ancient 50 s kind that still worked with punch cards Very funny, and a really enjoyable romp.Themes like this all add to the fun, but I think I prefer a subtle homogeneous canvas which comes across as an organic whole, rather than a jarring, comic book collage where the elements make up a mismatching pastiche, and sometimes this book feels a bit like the latter.It s almost as if Mieville was trying to scrunch too many loose ideas into one world, as if he didn t use enough self restraint.Now to move on to some of the political aspects of the work.There is so much conflict here not just as reflected in the book, but in myself over the book and over Mieville Mieville himself seems a complex creature, every bit as complex as his work.Personally, I find the Anarchist Marxist view a bit naive As far as I am concerned, people are just never going to be philanthropic and astutely mature enough not to need any kind of government to regulate the cogs and wheels of human society So in my view, thinking that we can dispense with all forms of government and live happily ever after in some kind of anarchic hippie commune, just won t work Not unless everyone is put on drugs from an early age, anyway Mieville, a rather radical Marxist, shows us a negative depiction of government New Cruzobon is on the surface a democracy, but in reality a police state The government is corrupt and makes use of secret police to control the populace Ironically, rather similar to certain now defunct Communist governments from the past.But perhaps Mieville isn t quite as naive as one might think People in power do, after all, tend to become corrupted by the sweet headiness of power, the narcotic lure of power and we all know about the kinds of things politicians will stoop to, to come in power or to remain in power and then there s also Capitalism and moral corruption all too real, unfortunately.so I have to admit that the depiction of New Cruzobon government and its machinations to remain in power is not quite so far fetched, and one needn t even be aware of Mieville s personal ideology to identify with his cynical depiction of a conservative type of government in which secret police play a sinister role, and which, although a supposedly democratic government with a parliament, seems to sit just just on the edge of totalitarianism.As for the rest of the novel it is a melting pot of intertextuality, originality, and nods to and riffing on tropes, but winding through it all, like rivulets that eventually meet up with their mother river, run plot threads that eventually meet up into one cataclysmic stream of events which touches the lives of the characters in the novel nay, not just touches heaves them up and carries them in a nightmarish torrent of events which changes them forever.In spite of my criticisms, this is a great book The way in which Mieville spun a web across the lives of several characters and have them all irrevocably touched by and changed by fate, is pretty amazing it reminded me of the web George Eliot spun through her novel Middlemarch.Also, like everybody else says in their reviews, the world he builds is rich and imaginative, if at times rather excessive in its detail.Probably, the hardest aspect for me with this work was interpreting when the author is being serious and when he is putting tongue in cheek.The last chapter of the book is serious That much I can tell you I cried My heart ached The ending of the book affected me so deeply that my insides ached for quite a while after finishing the book So kudos to Mr Mieville for managing to do that.It is one of the most intimately personal parts of the book, where Mieville bathes his characters in pathos He writes with amazing self control at the end I personally would have preferred a revenge ending but this literature climbs above that It takes no sides, it just shows It shows each of the human and non human yet so human characters in their acute, frail humanity And these characters have grown.Isaac, the once callous and arrogant, now broken in his shattered world, has become softer, is seeing the world from a different angle Yagharek finally comes to acceptance, and but wait, let me not spoil the plot.Just read it I will add a small warning though you ll only see the plot threads drawn together at the end of the book, so don t get too impatient if you don t see the entire painting, the whole picture of the story before you re about 3 quarters through the book.Mieville examines many ethical issues throughout the novel, for instance, among others How much are we allowed to sacrifice in the name of science How should punishment for heinous crimes be administered Is it acceptable to sacrifice a few to save many His answers regarding an ideal approach to these problems do not tend to be pat or preachy, and although the reader might not always agree with the choices of the characters regarding ethics and morality, at least Mieville is putting the issues on the table to be aired I do feel Mieville missed a few opportunities, for instance, with how callously Isaac treats creatures during his experiments I feel that Mieville could have had a character comment on this for example, to highlight the issue, and Isaac could have replied with an argument from the scientist s point of view As it is, it simply serves to add to the dislike one already feels towards the character regarding his hypocrisy in the way he conducts his interracial relationship with a Kephri woman.As a postscript, I d like to tack on a reference to a short story, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula Le Guin, in which she introduces one of the moral conundrums that one bumps your head against when looking at things from a utilitarian point of view, namely when does it become acceptable to sacrifice the one to save the many In the novel reviewed above, Mieville simply takes it as a given that it is quite acceptable from an ethical point of view for one person to be sacrificed for the many I don t necessarily agree with this assumption However, if you think carefully about it, it is an assumption that Christianity is steeped with and in fact many religions including the ancient meso American religions have strong themes of it being good and justifiable to sacrifice few for the benefit of many.I m not arguing with Mieville s stance on the matter, since it is not a problem that lends itself to easy solutions I would have appreciated a bit soul searching on Mieville s characters part regarding this question though, since it is a pertinent problem that is relevant to the citizens of the world today.Bottom line is that although this novel has some flaws, I thought the positives outweighed the negatives enough for me to give it four and a half stars, rounded up to five.Highly recommended to anybody who would enjoy a rich tapestry of gritty fantasy and who likes fiction that explores moral issues and new ideas Not for those who prefer their fiction prim, proper, staid and conforming to 19th century standards of writing.