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It is a novel of discovery, but also a novel of compassion and hope. Despite some dubious plot points Perdido Street Station features one of the most mesmerising and terrifying monsters I've ever come across.
It plays on fears of juvenile delinquency and student violence, which is a common theme across popular culture (youth gangs and violent schools feature prominently, another example being the recent film Confessions) and then mixes it with ideas of how willing anyone is to kill for self defence or self-promotion.It's got everything - essentially it's about Imperialism and Rhetoric, but it has many lessons and much wisdom for those interested in learning about Imperialism, especially the modern-day form of 'Aid' and 'helping the natives' - but then justifications for Imperialism have usually been wrapped up in fluffy-feel-good 'humanitarian' terms A good SF novel should be, above all things, a good novel.Sturgeon, a great short-story writer, uses the genre to explore what it is to be human, and how we can strive to be more.War as a constant theme, messed up with embryonic sleeps through hyper speed jumps across the universe, to fight in a ship that is now 10 years out of date.Multi-platform emotional relationships and an unknown foe. The aliens will need to know what humanity was like (even if only to recreate us as a digital slave race in their virtual reality matrix), and if any single author grasps the state of our technological society today it is William Gibson.Well the answer is yes sometimes and particularly in this book albeit some unknown space drug.
But like the genre of sci-fi itself Dick uses such concepts as vehicles for what I would see as Dicks’ big idea.
Hard to adequately describe the majesty of this book. I'd use the phrases 'mind blowing' or 'mind expanding' if they weren't such cliches. It gives a glimpse into one of our many possible futures and problems we may face in the future.
Hopefully someone else can do more justice to it in their recommendation, but all I can say is you come away from it with a different perspective on the universe. Sure, it deals with complex mathematical concepts, the far-future evolution of humanity..it does so in a poetic, mythic way. This is a SF Odyssey, it is Homeric in its ambition, and it has quite the most beautiful prose I have ever read in a SF novel. The characters are nicely fitted into stereotypes and work well together and the stories are outlandish enough to keep interest but they're not too much. Deranged paranoia, mind-bending ideas and lots of humour.
Put very simply he recognises that when something or anything is looked at more closely reality and consciousness will change ultimately meaning that both are unstable.
In Dicks books this manifests itself firstly in paranoia and then to transcendence.
While not as evidently prescient as Huxley or Orwell, Zamyatin explores a potential extrapolation of the Soviet ideal.