Perdido Street Station

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Perdido Street Station
Cover of first UK edition
Author China Miéville
Illustrator Edward Miller
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Bas-Lag novels
Genre Speculative fiction
Publisher Macmillan
Publication date
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 867 pp
ISBN 0-333-78172-4
OCLC 42912755
Preceded by King Rat
Followed by The Scar

Perdido Street Station is the second published novel by China Miéville and the first of three independent works set in the fictional world of Bas-Lag, a world where both magic (referred to as 'thaumaturgy') and steampunk technology exist. The novel has won several literary awards.

In an interview, Miéville described this book 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!"[1]

Perdido Street Station is set in Bas-Lag's large city-state of New Crobuzon: the title refers to a railway station at the heart of the city.


Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin is an eccentric scientist living in the city of New Crobuzon with girlfriend Lin. While Lin, an artist, is commissioned to create a sculpture of mob boss Mr. Motley, Isaac is offered a unique challenge. Yagharek is a member of a flying species, whose wings have been cut off, and who asks Isaac to restore them. Isaac is sparked by the seemingly impossible nature of the task, and gathers various flying animals to study in his lab – including a multicolored, unidentifiable caterpillar. Once Isaac learns that the caterpillar only eats a hallucinogenic drug called "dreamshit", he begins to feed it, unwittingly stimulating its metamorphosis into a giant and incredibly dangerous moth-like creature which feeds off the subconscious of sentient beings, leaving them as catatonic vegetables. It is revealed that dreamshit is in fact secreted by such creatures, of which four have been sold to Mr. Motley, and "milked" to produce the drug. When these other larvae transform and escape they plague the citizens of New Crobuzon until Isaac can find a way to stop them.


  • Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin, a human scientist, dabbling in all fields but obsessed with his pet theory of "crisis energy". Lover to Lin, and close friends with Derkhan Blueday.
  • Yagharek, an exiled and de-winged garuda from the Cymek Desert, far south of New Crobuzon. He comes to Isaac to have his flight restored, willing to accept any method or price.
  • Lin, Isaac's lover, and a khepri artist who is commissioned by the gangster Mr. Motley to create a sculpture of his form.
  • Derkhan Blueday, a middle-aged journalist and seditionist, co-editor of the underground newspaper Runagate Rampant.
  • Lemuel Pigeon, Isaac's contact with New Crobuzon's criminal underworld.
  • Mr. Motley, New Crobuzon's most feared ganglord, who runs a dreamshit harvesting operation, among many other nefarious activities. He has altered his body many times through remaking, into an amorphous collection of body parts and appendages.
  • Mayor Bentham Rudgutter, the corrupt mayor of New Crobuzon who bargains with crime syndicates and demons alike.
  • MontJohn Rescue, an ambassador of the feared handlingers (powerful parasites who take over other species as hosts), working for the mayor.
  • Lublamai Dadscatt, shares lab space with David Serachin and Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin, first victim of the 5th Slake-Moth.
  • David Serachin, shares lab space with Isaac and Lublamai.
  • Teafortwo, a dim-witted and friendly wyrman who runs small favours for Isaac.
  • Construct Council, a hive-mind artificial intelligence formed in the city's rubbish dump. It controls many constructs (simplistic robots originally engineered for janitorial and other purposes) in New Crobuzon.
  • The Weaver, a multi-dimensional being in the form of a giant spider, who speaks in a never-ending torrent of free-verse poetry.


The novel was nominated for the 2002 Nebula Award for Best Novel and Hugo Award for Best Novel.[2][3] It won the British Fantasy Society's August Derleth Award in 2000,[4] the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2001,[5] the Premio Ignotus Award in 2002,[6] and the Kurd Laßwitz Award in 2003.[7] It also won the Editors' Choice Award in Fantasy in 2001.[8] In May 2009, it was made available as an audiobook from Random House.[9]

Michael Moorcock reviewed the book and said "Perdido Street Station, a massive and gorgeously detailed parallel-world fantasy, offers us a range of rather more exotic creatures, all of whom are wonderfully drawn and reveal a writer with a rare descriptive gift, an unusually observant eye for physical detail, for the sensuality and beauty of the ordinarily human as well as the thoroughly alien." However, he suggests "Mieville's determination to deliver value for money, a great page-turner, leads him to add genre borrowings which set up a misleading expectation of the kind of plot you're going to get and make individuals start behaving out of character, forcing the author into rationalisations at odds with the creative, intellectual and imaginative substance of the book." He concludes, "That aside, Mieville's catholic contemporary sensibility, delivering generous Victorian value and a well-placed moral point or two, makes Perdido Street Station utterly absorbing and you won't get a better deal, pound for pound, for your holiday reading!"[10]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Burling, William J. (2009), Vint, Sherryl, ed., "Periodizing the Postmodern: China Mieville's Perdido Street Station and the Dynamics of Radical Fantasy", Extrapolation 50 (2): 326–345, doi:10.3828/extr.2009.50.2.11. 
  • Gordon, Joan (2003), "Hybridity, Heterotopia, and Mateship in China Miéville's Perdido Street Station", Science Fiction Studies 30 (3): 456–476. 
  • Rankin, Sandy (2009), Vint, Sherryl, ed., "AGASH AGASP AGAPE: The Weaver as Immanent Utopian Impulse in China Mieville's Perdido Street Station and Iron Council", Extrapolation 50 (2): 239–258, doi:10.3828/extr.2009.50.2.6. 


  1. ^ Marshall, Richard (February 2003), "The Road to Perdido: An Interview with China Miéville", 3:AM Magazine, retrieved 20 April 2008 
  2. ^ Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, 2002 SFWA Final Nebula Awards Ballot, retrieved 20 April 2008 
  3. ^ World Science Fiction Society, The 2002 Hugo Award & Campbell Award Winners, retrieved 20 April 2008 
  4. ^ "2000 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 26 July 2009. 
  5. ^ "2001 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 26 July 2009. 
  6. ^ Asociación Española de Fantasía, Ciencia Ficción y Terror, (List of Premio Ignotus award winners, in Spanish), archived from the original on 13 February 2008, retrieved 20 April 2008 
  7. ^ The Locus Index to SF Awards: Kurd Lasswitz Preis Winners by Year, Locus (magazine), retrieved 20 April 2008 
  8. ^, 2001 Editors' Choice: Fantasy,, retrieved 20 April 2008 
  9. ^ Random House, Inc., Perdido Street Station by China Miéville – Unabridged Audiobook Download, Random House, retrieved 13 October 2008 
  10. ^ Moorcock, Michael. "Perdido Street Station Review". The Spectator. Retrieved 5 November 2010. 

External links[edit]