Saturday, 3 January 2009

Perdido Street Station (spoilers)

I don't confuse sci-fi with fantasy. I do read fantasy as well (and other genres too) however can easily get bored with standardized tales of wizards and elves. I wonder if Tolkien in the long run has done more damage than good to the genre - on the one hand there's so much to enjoy in his own books; on the other hand there are all the other books "inspired" by the Tolkiverse.

To my mind fantasy should be about fantasy: you fantasise. A fantasy writer should be free to allow anything into his or her novel from his or her mind. While a certain amount of internal consistency might still be helpful, it's not about keeping things plausible or nearly plausible, or sticking to the rules (like, say, hard sci-fi).

This is why I'm bringing up Perdido Street Station - it's brimful of highly original beings and events. The setting combines magic and steampunk; the world includes all manner of creatures and hybrids - to give you some flavour, the heroes, a journalist (with a beetle instead of a head), a freelance scientist and a criminal fixer are trying to defeat a giant dream-stealing moth, that should give you a start. The setting - the city of New Crobuzon - combines the absolute worst excesses of every major city on Earth. Mieville has a wonderful prose style that describes settings in three-dimensional, 32-bit colour and HD resolution; and he's never happier than when finding new and fresh ways to describe just how mucky the current setting is. And there's not an orc to be seen anywhere.


Jigsaw said...

Its funny cos thats a thing that annoys me, people confusing sci fi and fantasy.Although I like both genres I think a lot of people don't know the difference.

Sci-Fi Gene said...

In my mind I've always thought of them as opposites so I find it strange when they're lumped together as a single genre e.g. in a bookstore.