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Old 3rd July 2006, 07:10 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Re: Perdido Street Station

JD, I think you should read the Scar by Mieville next - you say you liked the writing and imagination on the whole, but had some problems with the characterisation (or at least, the style of portraying the characters, which is slightly different). In the Scar, Mieville refines the writing a bit - it's technically better, the pacing is more effective as is the plot but the main difference is the characters are a lot more memorable. In PSS, Isaac, Yagharek, Mr. Motley et al were well developed characters and interesting, but none of them have the same memorability of Uther Doul.

I actually thought though that in PSS most of the characters were described in a lot of detail, at least, except for the human characters. But for those, he took the opposite approach. I don't think he quite took the in between approach you suggest, but he instead took both. There's plenty of physical description of Lin, Yagharek - actually of any non-human species(khepri, vodyanoi, cactacae, slakemoths) there is loads of description. Mieville just isn't that interested in the mundane though. So for characters like Motley (ok, I'm pushing it describing him as human), you just get vague hints here and there which develop into a pretty complete picture by the end - kind of like Lin's statue. Or for Isaac, there's very little physical description - but he's the protagonist. Which for me works fine - it would kill the pacing to do equally detailed descriptions for everyone, but to give just vague descriptions of the various species would take away hugely from the atmosphere.

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My only other complaint about Mieville is the occasionally slipshod phrasing (rare, but I spotted a few that jarred with the overall meticulous use of language); this may be just the occasional glitch
There are few writers who can do as well as that at all. For a second novel, it's Mieville has an almost unparalleled command of language - I think at its best it rivals M John Harrison and even Mervyn Peake on occasion. One thing I loved about PSS was how Mieville seemed to be writing for the pure enjoyment of it, and that translated into enjoyment of the novel for me. Ok, there were a couple of phrases that weren't quite perfect, the structure could have been better and the characters and plot aren't as brilliant as Peake's Gormenghast - but Mieville seemed to create an entirely unique world and story by taking those elements of the traditional and blending them in his own way. And it was one of the few extremely well written novels that hasn't come out of the magic realism subgenre (which IMO sometimes seems a bit hesitant with use of imagination - as if unsure how far they're allowed to go).

PSS remains my favourite Mieville novel - it might not be as polished technically in the writing, but in terms of sheer imagination and atmosphere, its unsurpassed.
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Old 3rd July 2006, 07:55 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Re: Perdido Street Station

Well, as I said, it may just be me with the problem with descriptions on this; but, while I could get a fairly clear idea of what Lin, for instance, looked like, there were nebulous, shadowed areas. She never became quite a concrete visualization to me. Her personality, on the other hand, was very well done -- and, thinking on it, this would reflect the khepri way of seeing life in some ways, as well -- so perhaps here it was deliberate. Yag also suffered from this slightly, but not quite as much as Lin. Overall with the sapient species, I'd say he does it quite well, but particular individuals sometimes have a little less than I find helpful for getting that feeling of a character as an actual, physical presence, something with visual thickness, if you will.

As for my comments on the occasional slip in phrasing: I was speaking with my "critic's" cap on, so I'm more likely to note such things (I'm not sure I can read without that, anymore ). But, as I said, it's a very minor quibble and, I think, yes, the mark of a certain increased looseness I've seen develop over the last 30 years in proofreading and publishing (demand has something to do with that, I'm sure). And I already see a vast improvement over King Rat (which I would still recommend; flawed, but it has some magnificent stuff throughout); so I have no doubt Mieville continues to knock off the little bits and pieces that don't really work. That's part of learning the craft; a lifetime thing. I've already -- shortly after entering my thoughts here yesterday, in fact -- highly recommended the book to two people; both seem intrigued, to say the least.

As I said, it may be a while before I get to his next; I've got a backlog a mile long and three wide, but I look forward to trying them out when I get there. And again, I can't thank you folks for the recommendation enough. One final note: On Mieville as a writer as a whole: Even if I didn't like this at all, I think it would be impossible to not see here is one incredibly talented writer who deserves to be high on the list of best living in the field -- and just a darn good writer, period, in field or out.
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Old 4th July 2006, 11:54 AM   #33 (permalink)
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Re: Perdido Street Station

I know what you mean about a massive backlog - I have both King Rat and the Tain by Mieville to read, and I've had the Tain for at least 6 months now, and still haven't had time to read it.
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Old 4th July 2006, 11:59 AM   #34 (permalink)
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Re: Perdido Street Station

The Tain -- I'm familiar with the story from Looking for Jake -- is this an expanded version, a novel, or ...?
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Old 5th July 2006, 03:36 PM   #35 (permalink)
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Re: Perdido Street Station

As others have said the Scar is definately more polished then Perdido Street Station. I had initially put down PSS after about 75 pages in which it failed to hook me. I picked it back up recently and after reading the whole thing I was blown away. It's flaws are pretty obvious and have been pointed out numerous times but the genius there is undeniable.

I'm almost finished with the Scar and looking forward to reading Iron Council, despite some rather lukewarm reviews I've seen.
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Old 20th July 2006, 10:11 PM   #36 (permalink)
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Re: Perdido Street Station

I thought this book was wonderful! My onlt complaint is that he used the word "architecture" too much and that the city itself was extremely depressing. Although, this is a major element of the story, but still, I almost wanted to cry after I finished the book.
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Old 21st July 2006, 10:36 AM   #37 (permalink)
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Re: Perdido Street Station

Quote:
Originally Posted by j. d. worthington
The Tain -- I'm familiar with the story from Looking for Jake -- is this an expanded version, a novel, or ...?
I don't know how long the Looking for Jake story is - the one I have is a novella of about 100 pages. I would assume the Looking for Jake story is a condensed version of that, as the novella was written first.

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I'm almost finished with the Scar and looking forward to reading Iron Council, despite some rather lukewarm reviews I've seen.
Don't be put off by the bad reviews - Iron Council is still an excellent novel. It's got mediocre reviews because it isn't as brilliant as PSS or the Scar, but despite that it still managed to win the Arthur C Clarke award.
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Old 21st July 2006, 12:58 PM   #38 (permalink)
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Re: Perdido Street Station

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brys
I don't know how long the Looking for Jake story is - the one I have is a novella of about 100 pages. I would assume the Looking for Jake story is a condensed version of that, as the novella was written first.
Just to clarify, it's not a condensed version, it's actually the novella completing one bookend of the Looking For Jake collection. I've got the TPB edition of "Jake" and it's approx 70 pages, so if you have MMPB of Tain then 100 pages would be about right. You're correct however, in that the novella was published in 2002 ahead of this collection. Tain was a Locus Award recipient and is very good, particularly strong on atmosphere and visual imagery. The main character is not as well fleshed out as one would like and the plot in many ways plays a secondary role to Mievile's often superb prose. It also has an aspect of military fantasy, which may please you. The "mirror" creatures are inspired by literary heavyweight George Luis Borges and the Tain is an actual word relating to this concept. I shan't reveal more at the risk of spoiling it for you.

Let us know how you fare once you've read the novella...
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Old 21st July 2006, 04:35 PM   #39 (permalink)
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Re: Perdido Street Station

Quote:
Originally Posted by GOLLUM
Just to clarify, it's not a condensed version, it's actually the novella completing one bookend of the Looking For Jake collection. I've got the TPB edition of "Jake" and it's approx 70 pages, so if you have MMPB of Tain then 100 pages would be about right. You're correct however, in that the novella was published in 2002 ahead of this collection. Tain was a Locus Award recipient and is very good, particularly strong on atmosphere and visual imagery. The main character is not as well fleshed out as one would like and the plot in many ways plays a secondary role to Mievile's often superb prose. It also has an aspect of military fantasy, which may please you. The "mirror" creatures are inspired by literary heavyweight George Luis Borges and the Tain is an actual word relating to this concept. I shan't reveal more at the risk of spoiling it for you.

Let us know how you fare once you've read the novella...
Um, Gollum ... not to be pedantic or anything (he says, grinning) but it's Jorge Luis Borges...
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Old 22nd July 2006, 06:27 AM   #40 (permalink)
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Re: Perdido Street Station

By George, you could be right.....
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Old 21st September 2006, 02:37 AM   #41 (permalink)
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Re: Perdido Street Station

Hello everyone. This is my first time here and I would really appreciate it if someone could answer these questions of mine. I recently read PSS and I was wondering if someone could explain to me what Yagharek did at the end of the book.
SPOILERS (please highlight to see)
What I understand happened is that he removed the feathers from his body so that he could look human. Is this correct?

My second question is, do the characters from PSS appear in the Scar? I bought the Scar today and I'm just curious. Anyway, thanks in advance for your answers!
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Old 21st September 2006, 09:11 AM   #42 (permalink)
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Re: Perdido Street Station

In answer to your spoiler - yes, I think that was the intention. It was also because he wanted to change his identity a bit after what he'd done - he'd tried to achieve redemption and to return to what he had been, and when that failed, he needed to become something new, something that could fit into the society he would have to live in.

The Scar has mostly different characters - the main character in the Scar is Bellis Coldwine, who has a very minor role in PSS, but other than that, I can't really think of anyone else who is in both.
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Old 21st September 2006, 09:26 AM   #43 (permalink)
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Re: Perdido Street Station

Also, I think it had to do with two other things: self-punishment, and a loss of status that yet was another way of attempting to regain status. At least, that's how I read it....
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Old 21st September 2006, 02:18 PM   #44 (permalink)
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Re: Perdido Street Station

Good point - there was definitely an element of self-punishment to it. I think it's the condemnation coming from his friends which really makes him consider what he's done properly for the first time.
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Old 21st September 2006, 06:36 PM   #45 (permalink)
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Re: Perdido Street Station

Thanks for the answers Brys and j.d.
That's an interesting explanation about why Yagharek did what he did.
It's a shame that the characters from PSS do not return in the Scar because I would have liked to know more about their story. I would also want to know more about the Construct Council and why it has so much power over its followers.
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