China Mieville’s newest book actually came out a couple months ago, but I’ve been saving it for the long flight I’ve got to take next week. So in the meantime I’ll just do a little review of the book that turned me on to his writing in the first place: Perdido Street Station.
I’ll say right from the get-go that I don’t feel this is a steampunk story, though I’ve heard a few people call it that. Steampunk tends to cover a pretty wide range, so I get why people lump Perdido in there. But I think its only steampunk element is that it takes place in an extremely high-tech world that never got further than the steam engine. Instead of planes, you have dirigibles. Instead of robots, you have steam-powered “constructs” clanking past with coal-burning boilers inside. There’s plenty of clockwork and trains and “computers” that are programmed with levers and punch-cards, but that’s where the steampunk element ends. There isn’t much of a Victorian feel to anything, there’s an almost modern industrial grittiness to the world, and the aliens all over the place detract from any steampunk vibes.