Title: Perdido Street Station
Author: China Miéville
Year of publication: 2000
Genre: Mixed — SF Fantasy Horror
My rating: 4.5 stars or A-
New Crobuzon is a sprawling, messy, dark city in which, since I only recently finished reading Peter Ackroyd’s London, I couldn’t help but see the echoes of that great metropolis during the Industrial Revolution. But Miéville’s imaginative power in authentically re-creating such a city in another universe, a city full of non-human races trying to make a living, honestly takes my breath away, and that’s speaking as someone who normally can’t stand a lot of description in her reading.
The story opens with Isaac and his non-human lover, Lin (alien, as in actually alien, not Star Trek alien — she has a giant insect for a head) both receiving unusual commissions. Read the rest of this entry »
When the world has ended, what keeps you alive?
A nameless pair, father and son, walk south along a road through a burnt and blighted landscape, fleeing winter. It’s not the end of the world: it’s years after the end of the world and the handful of survivors have descended to savagery as stored food runs out and almost all that’s left to eat is each other. Meeting a road gang means their rape and death; even solitary strangers are risks. There is no humanity left in the end times.
The boy was born at just the wrong time, but the boy is all the man lives for: “If he is not the word of God God never spoke”. The man has a pistol. It has two bullets left. He is coughing up blood. The boy cannot survive alone. No one can. “Can you do it?” he thinks. “When the time comes. Can you?”
It should be a bleak read – there’s no hope here that eventually the remnants will pull a society together again, because nothing will grow and there’s nothing left to pollinate it if it did. And it is stark and it is pitiless, but it is, after all, not bleak, I think because it so easy to fall into the mindset of the father. He rarely thinks of the future or of the past, but just of surviving the day. Without thinking too far ahead, their story is one of the power of love in hopeless times.
I haven’t read too many post-apocalyptic novels – The Stand, Onyx and Crake, I Am Legend, the recent The Gone-Away World and The Forest of Hands & Teeth. The Road is powerful both for being set in the miserable between-times, after scavenging off the fallen remnants of our society is no longer possible and before any hint of recovery into a new civilisation (which does not seem possible in this scenario anyway), and for giving the man and the boy no other enemy but hunger, cold, and other people.
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