China Miéville is a weird fantasy author. No, really, that’s what he calls himself: an author of weird fantasy. He is also a damn competent sci fi author, (see Embassytown here,) and a workman of the odd genre tale (see The Census-Taker here.) In his New Crobuzon series, we are introduced to the world of Bas-Lag, a fantasy world full of weird and wonderful creatures and environments.
Each volume in the series is a completely stand alone book. The only link is the Bas-Lag universe world. It is fantasy, fantabulism, and yeah, OK, downright weird, but oh, so readable! I mean, really, who doesn’t get caught up in the world of humans, remades, which are humans being punished by grafting on mechanical devices, or part of other species, which then suits them for various specific jobs. Or not. There are frog people who can craft golem made of water, and cactus people, spiny dudes, grumpy and prickly, flying people of various types, and some hybrid bug-human creatures.
So what is Perdido Street Station about? Um, well, umm, it’s set in a city called New Krobuzon where there are humans, but other races like I said, as well as steam-powered robots and cyborgs, though there are also magicians and scientists. The story is about a scientist who is asked to help a crippled bird man fly again but by accident releases a plague of trans-dimensional moths onto the city that eat people’s minds. Oh, and the scientist is involved with a woman who’s head is a scarab beetle and who makes sculptures out of her own spit!”
Yeah, steam punk set in 1799. Of course, it is not clear whether that 1799 is our universe’s calendar year, or New Crobuzon time, but really, when steam powered machinery work arm-in-arm with magic, but they STILL don’t have indoor plumbing, who cares, right?
Really long work, but the writing is pearlescent. Description after description, without it feeling like information dump, we come to really know this place. Maybe more than we wish.
Yep, I am really a fan of Miéville.