Perdido Street Station: New Crobuzon, Book 1 : New Crobuzon

  • by China Mieville
  • Narrated by Jonathan Oliver
  • Series: New Crobuzon
  • 31 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Beneath the towering bleached ribs of a dead, ancient beast lies New Crobuzon, a squalid city where humans, Re-mades, and arcane races live in perpetual fear of Parliament and its brutal militia. The air and rivers are thick with factory pollutants and the strange effluents of alchemy, and the ghettos contain a vast mix of workers, artists, spies, junkies, and whores. In New Crobuzon, the unsavory deal is stranger to none-not even to Isaac, a brilliant scientist with a penchant for Crisis Theory.
Isaac has spent a lifetime quietly carrying out his unique research. But when a half-bird, half-human creature known as the Garuda comes to him from afar, Isaac is faced with challenges he has never before fathomed. Though the Garuda's request is scientifically daunting, Isaac is sparked by his own curiosity and an uncanny reverence for this curious stranger.
While Isaac's experiments for the Garuda turn into an obsession, one of his lab specimens demands attention: a brilliantly colored caterpillar that feeds on nothing but a hallucinatory drug and grows larger-and more consuming-by the day. What finally emerges from the silken cocoon will permeate every fiber of New Crobuzon-and not even the Ambassador of Hell will challenge the malignant terror it invokes.

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What the Critics Say

"China Miéville's cool style has conjured up a triumphantly macabre technoslip metropolis with a unique atmosphere of horror and fascination." (Peter Hamilton)
"It is the best steampunk novel since Gibson and Sterling's." (John Clute)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Flawed. Overlong. Masterful.

This book badly needed a more authoritative editor. The description passages are far too long. The author uses words like "bathetic", "vertiginous" and "solipsistic" where they're not needed. Space spent on excessive detail could have been spent extending the ending, which is perfunctory and unsatisfying and does almost none of the main characters justice.

Why, then, have I given this verbose, poorly-ended book five stars? Because it's a thing of beauty. A truly unique fantasy work, breathtakingly creative and lovingly realised. It contains one of the most distinctive settings you're likely to find, one of the most genuinely affecting relationships I've experienced in speculative fiction, and some of the coolest characters and monsters anywhere. The world of Bas-Lag is brilliantly complete and endlessly surprising; dark and unpleasant yet fascinating. It's somewhere in between science fiction and fantasy (I would describe it as retrofuturist fantasy), and it's changed how I think about both. The plot, up until the last couple of hours, is coherent and engaging, and twists and turns with an unpredictability rarely seen. It's definitely political, but not excessively so. It's marvellous.

Sometimes a bad ending retroactively ruins the whole book, or film, or game, or at least permanently tarnishes your appreciation of it. Not here. When I finished this audiobook yesterday, I was annoyed at the ending, but I'm definitely glad I went along for the ride. Jonathan Oliver's narration fits the tone of the writing brilliantly. In places, it has an excess of drama to match the excess of verbosity, but when the writing is more measured the narration really shines, and his voices are great. I especially like the way he voices the non-human characters, particularly Lin.

I've never written a review for audible this long before, but I wanted to make my complex feelings known. If you like speculative fiction, Perdido Street Station offers something unique. Try it out!
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- Will

Over-egged and under-edited; strangely addictive

Well this thing will definitely give you a run for your money. The writing is often horribly clumsy, but sometimes hits a lovely precise perfection.

As with Embassy Town, the best bit is the set-up. Here we learn about the huge roiling vibrant messy city of New Crobuzon, and the engaging protagonists of the story. I could have done with even more of this stuff.

Then the action starts, and while the author's amazing creativity goes into overdrive, the character development is sacrificed to the needs of the plot, and the protagonists do all sorts of things that don't really make internal sense. The prose gets larded and encrusted with excess verbiage, and the whole thing generally turns to custard (still quite tasty). I just wish he'd had an old-school editor (Diana Athill would have been ideal) to stop him using the word "pugnacious" more than three times a page, making detours totally irrelevant to the plot, and things of that nature.

The text makes huge demands on the narrator, and Jonathan Oliver does an inspired job.

In short, it's a baggy old mess, but still vastly entertaining.
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- Mary

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-09-2011
  • Publisher: Audible Studios