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In this lesson, we will summarize ‘Perdido Street Station’ by China Mieville and examine the characters from this story, which is about how monsters, created from genetically modified insects, are used to make drugs.

Setting

Imagine living inside the carcass of some ancient creature. What kinds of cohabitants would you find there? Perdido Street Station by China Mieville is a science fiction story about the creatures living together in New Crobuzon, a bustling city in the midst of some type of rib cage, and its population of people, insects, animals, and hybrids of each species. Let’s find out more about this story.

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Story Summary

Isaac, a scientist who specializes in studying winged creatures and crisis energy (which alters inanimate objects in various ways to change reality), is approached by Yagharek, a garuda (half human/half bird) whose wings were clipped as punishment in his homeland. Yagharek wants Isaac’s help so that he can fly again.

Isaac begins conducting experiments with the help of Lemuel Pigeon, who has criminal connections. Lemuel brings him a giant caterpillar and feeds it drugs that are obtained through Mr. Motley, the head drug dealer in New Crobuzon. The caterpillar metamorphizes into a monstrous, venomous slake-moth. The slake-moth attacks one of Isaac’s colleagues and escapes.

Isaac, Yagharek, and Lemuel resolve to capture and destroy the slake-moth.Isaac’s girlfriend, Lin, a khepri (a beetle head with a human body) and an artist, goes to work creating a sculpture of Mr. Motley.

She learns that Motley has four slake-moths that he milks to make drugs. When Isaac’s slake-moth frees the others, Mr. Motley concludes that Isaac is trying to steal his business. As a result, he kidnaps Lin until Isaac returns the slake-moths.

The slake-moths start eating the citizens of New Crobuzon.Derkhan, a newspaper editor, and friend of Lin’s discovers, along with Isaac, that corrupt government officials sold the slake-moths to Mr. Motley. The Weaver, a spider-like creature, and the Construct Council, a group of robots that was created to do janitorial work, help Isaac track and kill the slake-moths and destroy their eggs.

The final slake-mouth flees to Mr. Motley’s warehouse where Lin has been imprisoned and attacks Lin. Isaac escapes with Lin and Yagharek as Motley’s gang kills the slake-mouth.Yagharek’s crime that cost him his wings is revealed by his victim, so Isaac refuses to help him. Lin does not recover from the slake-moth attack.

Major Characters

  • Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin is a human scientist who collects winged animals and insects in New Crobuzon, a place where various species have been combined to create new species.

    Isaac tries to learn all he can about flying so that he can help creatures who have either lost their ability to fly or want to learn. Isaac, although brilliant, is considered a ”scientist-outcast, the disreputable thinker who walked out of a lucrative teaching post to engage in experiments too outrageous and brilliant for the tiny minds who ran the university.”

  • Yagharekis a garuda who comes to Isaac for help after he loses his wings. They were clipped as punishment for the crime of ”choice-theft,” which is not fully explained, except to be on par with rape. Isaac cancels the contract with Yagharek when his victim, another garuda, tells Isaac what Yagharek has done for her.
  • Lin is Isaac’s secret lover. She is a khepri, which is a type of creature with an insect head and a human-like body.

    She is also an artist who eats colorful berries and then uses her spit to create colorful resin sculptures. Lin says, ”Art’s something you choose to make;it’s a bringing together of…of everything around you into something that makes you more human, more khepri, whatever. More of a person.

    ” She is hired by Mr. Motley to create a sculpture.

  • Derkhan Blueday is an art critic, as well as the co-editor of the underground newspaper ”Runagate Rampant,” whose printing press is destroyed by the militia for criticizing a strike. She is a friend of Lin’s, and ”Isaac liked Derkhan because she was a seditionist.” She goes to a medium to try to find the whereabouts of her colleague, Benjamin Flex, and learns that the Mayor has had him kidnapped.
  • Lemuel Pigeon is a go-between for Isaac and the New Crobuzon criminal underworld. Although Lemuel could be depended upon to know information, ”he was unscrupulous and brutal;If the going ever got dangerous, he would leave anyone with him in a trail of dust.

  • Mr. Motley is the leader of the New Crobuzon underworld and a drug dealer. When Motley suspects that Isaac has been trying to interfere with the drug business, he takes it out on Lin. Motley writes to Isaac saying,”Khepri cannot make sounds, but I judge by the chymicals she was exuding and the trembling of those bugger legs that Lin found the removal of these useless wings a deeply unpleasant experience.

Lesson Summary

Perdido Street Station is a science-fiction novel about a civilization in which most of the citizens are hybrids between two or more species. Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin is a human scientist who is researching winged creatures. He tries to help Yagharek, whose wings were clipped as punishment for a crime in his homeland. Lemuel Pigeon helps Isaac obtain black market materials, including a giant caterpillar that turns into a killer slake-moth. Lin, Isaac’s girlfriend, is hired to create a sculpture of the mob boss, Mr.

Motley. Isaac and Derkhan Blueday find out that Mr. Motley was sold four slake-moths by corrupt government officials to help him make drugs. Isaac’s slake-moth kills one of his co-workers and then sets Motley’s slake-moths free. Motley, thinking Isaac is trying to move in on his drug dealing business, kidnaps Lin.

With the help of Yagharek, Lemuel, the Weaver, and the Construct Council, Isaac traps and kills the slake-moths and their eggs, but not before Lin is irreparably attacked. When Isaac learns what crime Yagharek committed, he refuses to help him.

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