The Lovable Strangeness of Perdido Street Station

If you know me IRL, follow me on twitter, or on tumblr, you’d know how I have fallen madly in love with China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station. I’ve talked about it so incessantly that a few people have asked for copies which I was happy to give, but made me anxious in retrospect. See, Perdido Street Station is NOT an easy read. It’s not the kind of book that would make you swoon right off the bat. It can be a backbreaker but Miéville turns the tables on the whole story about halfway through and anyone who wouldn’t persist that far would miss out on several of the greatest fantasy monsters.

The novel is an astonishment, the work of a brilliant world-maker with a stunning and inexhaustible imagination. In Perdido, we are in a degenerating cesspool of a city called New Crobuzon, where humans, xenomorphs, urban poor, altered criminals and cyborgs jostle and thieve and whore under the eye of a vicious, all-seeing militia.  China really takes the “show-don’t-tell” adage to heart and plunges you headfirst into a politically-charged world without any priming. You get to know the place as you read, and the world becomes another character.

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A garuda and a khepri in New Crobuzon. By Marc Simonetti.

Perdido Street Station shows us the limitless and awesomeness of story-telling. China’s words are powerful, strange, and poetic, all at the same time. His voice is so unique, and his ideas so wonderfully weird. I bet you a dollar that you can’t find another living writer that could wield wit, oddity, and command of the language as powerfully as he could.

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Perdido Street Station is a great book but it is not perfect. People will ramble on about weak characters, verbosity, and so on, which may or may not be merited, but on the whole people have their own ideas about how all novels should conform to a certain standard, so I take all literary criticisms with a grain of salt.

For example: People have complained about the weak plot but I particularly liked the ambiguity of the plot lines and the lack of clear resolution.  It was go-back-to-bed-depressing on some levels but I feel that all too often, fantasy and science fiction stories tend to be a bit sophomoric in plot and rely on a model right out of common fantasy tropes. Real life rarely gives us conflict resolution wrapped up with a ribbon and a bow, so why should fiction?

And this love is not blind to its faults – I know this can be a difficult book. Things can get tedious, some portions can get confusing. The fantastical science and even more fantastical math takes so much out of you but it was a sacrifice you give for a rewarding reading experience. Easily one of the best books I have ever read in my entire reading life – and this isn’t even Miéville’s best work yet – a revelation that makes this all-too exciting for me. It feels like an entire universe has unfolded before me, and I now have new planes to discover, new surreal reading experiences to be explored.

It’s been ages since I have felt this intense unraveling over a book. I am glad, and a bit surprised, that I still have this in me – a sordid and frightfully expensive nerdiness over a novel, a living author, and an unfamiliar genre. I love you, Mr. Miéville. Thank you for this book.

The Wise Man’s Fear: The OA Re-read

Welp! That took quite a while but I’m finally done with my re-read of The Wise Man’s Fear. I did not scribble a review on my first reading because my mind, then, was the muddled brain of a fangirl who was anxious and excited for the next installment of The Kingkiller’s Chronicle. This time though, my mind is calmer and my fangirling has settled. That’s not to say that I’m no longer crazy over the series (because God help me, I still am), it’s just that I am more objective this time. Continue reading “The Wise Man’s Fear: The OA Re-read”

Current Read: The Wise Man’s Fear

Oh, hello. I’m still in the middle of re-reading The Wise Man’s Fear. The whole experience is still as fun as the first reading, and it’s a nice gateway book to fantasy after reading too many non-genre books this month. I always have this itch when I read too many books that doesn’t have any magic, spaceships, or swords in them – a persistent hankering for something that makes me feel at home. Books from any other genre would eventually feel like a burden, no matter how good they are.

My copy of The Wise Man’s Fear is one of my most prized recent possessions. It’s a first edition and mint, meaning I haven’t read the story on the paper book since I’m deathly scared of breaking the spine. It’s silly, I know, but you do what you want do even if it doesn’t make sense sometimes. So yeah, I’ve read the book twice in my Kindle Touch and in Kindle apps for the PC. My Kindle Touch is amazing and I love it, and its accompanying apps (for PC, iOS and Android) are all neat. I highly recommend them.

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I highly recommend the book too. It’s fun and full of adventure. It is quite long though, so you get stuck with it for some time, especially when you’re up to your nose in office work, like I am these days. I squeeze in reading on my commute to/from work, when I feel exhausted in the office and when I feed my cat. I’m going on a holiday soon though, so I should get more reading done by then.

See you around!

kvothe

The Annotated Hobbit

The Annotated Hobbit

Ola! So I got The Annotated Hobbit Revised and Expanded Edition for Christmas this year. I have a yellowed paperback copy that my dear mother bought for me in high school, but I wanted to get an updated and leveled-up version of the book this year. There are so many beautiful editions out there but this particular one stood out because it’s annotated by the Tolkien scholar Douglas A. Anderson, and it’s not just some annotated version – it’s THE annotated version to get.

Today, I’m sharing with all Tolkien and/or book fans (aren’t all Tolkien fans book fans though?) some notable portions of the book as well as a recommendation of whether or not you should get it, or if this book is for you.

The Annotated Hobbit

    The Annotated Hobbit

Price tag not yet removed because removing properly pasted tags is a definite pain in the ass.

The dust jacket is classy, sophisticated and pretty thoroughly designed.

The Annotated Hobbit

The Annotated Hobbit

Isn’t that shade of yellow gorgeous?

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This is the hardcover spine. Classy.

And now on to the details…

The Annotated Hobbit

A wonderful portrait of J.R.R. Tolkien across the title page. I love the dwarven runes as details. It looks gorgeous. I’ll check what they mean later.

The Annotated HobbitClose up of the portrait. I really like it. Mr. Elven Linguist looking so fly.

The Annotated Hobbit

Hello, Smaug.

The Annotated Hobbit

The book’s introduction is a pretty thorough biography of J.R.R. Tolkien’s life which includes pictures, such as the one above of his family. It provides a great insight to the background of the man who created Middle-earth and all those wonderful characters from that world.

The Annotated Hobbit

History of The Hobbit – how it came to be and positive critical reception when it first came out in 1937.

The Annotated Hobbit

The first page of The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again. As you can see, the book is arranged neatly in two columns. The outer columns contain the annotations which are pretty thorough. They’re not your usual annotations/footnotes. These are really detailed explanations of parts of a book from a real gentleman and scholar.

As you can see, the opening line “In a hole in a ground there lived a hobbit.”, has an annotation that is far longer than the sentence. It’s thorough like you wouldn’t believe.

The Annotated Hobbit

Another example page of annotations. One thing this book doesn’t lack is drawings! Drawings everywhere! There are illustrations of The Hobbit characters from all of the world – some of them pretty hilarious as they don’t resemble Tolkien’s versions of what his characters look like at all. Regardless though, all of them are charming.

One of my favorite parts of the book are in the three photos below. Colored drawings and scanned papers of wonderful Middle-earth settings, maps, and a dust jacket. Most of these are drawn by the Man himself.

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This book is absolutely gorgeous and if you like gorgeous books on your shelf, I highly recommend this. The dimensions are 9.3 x 8 x 1.1 inches, and about 2 lbs in shipping weight (as per Amazon), in case you are obsessive about sizes of books like some people I know.

Do I recommend this for Tolkien fans? Definitely. This is the annotated version to get because it’s amazing and awe-inspiring and filled to the brim with information not just about The Hobbit but also about the LOTR trilogy. Douglas A. Anderson is as thorough as he is smart. He’s also a big Tolkien fanboy so our precioussss is perfectly safe in his scholarly hands. If you love Middle-earth, this is a must-have.

Do I recommend this for general readers? I’m not sure! This book is not for everyone – the notes can be overwhelming most especially for people who don’t or don’t want to care. If you just want to read The Hobbit, there are so many other cheaper and simpler editions out there that are just as beautiful (or even far prettier) than this one. I suggest you take a look at different editions first before you decide.

I got this book for Php1,199 at Fullybooked Ayala Center Cebu. This is the last copy from that branch but I know that they can ship copies from other branches if you insist. It’s also available in Amazon for $18.28 or Php750+shipping.