Rediscover: Perdido Street Station

English author China Miéville is a man of many weird and wonderful talents. He is considered, along with Jeff VanderMeer, a principal participant in the New Weird movement, a loosely defined literary speculative fiction category with cross-genre fantasy, horror and sci-fi elements, sprinkled with deliberately unexplained mysteries and existential terror. Miéville is also an academic and political activist; he has a Ph.D. in international relations from the London School of Economics and is a champion of socialist causes (his doctoral theses, Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law, was published in 2005). His most recent book, October: The Story of the Russian Revolution (Verso), was published in May.

Miéville has said he intends to write a novel in every genre. He has a solid track record thus far, with forays into sci-fi (Embassytown), detective noir (The City & the City), American Western (Iron Council) and ocean adventure (The Scar), all of which bear his trademark fantastical weirdness. Perhaps Miéville's best known work is Perdido Street Station. This urban fantasy/steampunk/sci-fi/mystery/thriller (herein lies the vagaries of New Weird) is the first of his three novels set in Bas-Lag, an expansive, richly imagined dark fantasy world. It takes place in the city-state of New Crobuzon, a version of Victorian London filled with magic (called thaumatergy), humans, insect-creatures, cactus people and despotic governance, where scientist Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin receives a seemingly impossible commission: how to restore flight to a humanoid bird who has lost his wings. It was last published by Del Rey in 2001 ($20, 9780345443021). --Tobias Mutter

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