Perdido Street Station
Del Rey, 623 pp. and 638 pp.
In the past twenty years I have been knocked-off-my-feet-amazed by only two new writers: William Gibson (who’s writing has suffered since the future caught up to him) and Dan Simmons (who has spent much of the last ten years writing in other genres). It’s time to add China Miéville to that list. Perdido Street Station is hands down the finest SF-fantasy-steampunk-horror novel that I’ve read this year. Combining several genres and mythos, Miéville has created a fantasy world unlike any that has come before. With a smattering of alien races, a major socio-political conflict, an ongoing drug war, a Jack the Ripper-style killer on the loose, a burgeoning society of sentient machines, and demon moths preying on the city—all worked in amongst a touching inter-species love story—this is a story that has something for everyone. I am in awe at how smoothly all of these plot lines come together into a creepy, tense, horrific, and moving climax. If all that isn’t enough to spark your interest, how about an enormous interdimensional spider and a conference with the Ambassador to Hell? The plot at its most basic: An oddball scientist must outwit police, drug lords, and a machine intelligence to save the city of New Crobuzon and his one true love from giant transdimensional brain-sucking moths. Do yourself a favor and check it out for yourself. The Scar picks up where Perdido Street left off but deals with a whole new set of characters and promptly sends them off to another part of the world. Much less steampunk and slightly less horrific, this sequel still blends science fiction and fantasy in brilliant new ways. Our hero this time is a linguist fleeing police persecution in New Crobuzon. Right away her ship is boarded and pirated away to a floating city comprised of centuries worth of other stolen vessels. Here the rulers of the floating Armada nation plan to raise a leviathan from the depths to tow the floating city to a tear in the fabric of reality that is leaking probability. As in the previous story, Miéville writes quantum physics like it was magic and writes magic as if it were simple engineering. Although much less complicated than Perdido Street, The Scar is teeming with amazing concepts and nasty beasties. This is a series that has nearly endless room for continuation and Miéville is a name that we will be hearing an awful lot about in the near future.