Quick thoughts on The Scar

I finished reading China Mieville’s The Scar today. The Scar (hereafter TS) is a semi-sequel to Perdido Street Station, which I discussed a while ago–it shares none of PSS’ characters and takes place in a different part of the same world, but does have a few ties to the events of PSS.
I want to take a bit more time to reflect on TS before I pronounce judgment. I can say that I definitely enjoyed it, perhaps even more than I did PSS. Both are clearly the works of the same author, sharing many of the themes and basic setting elements. Both chronicle the ordeals of sometimes-unpleasant characters as they get swept up into the machinations of others–machinations that can only be survived, not defeated. While PSS robs its protagonists of hope, TS goes a step further and robs them of freedom as well; nevertheless, it is fascinating to watch these everyday “heroes” persevere through it all.
If anything, TS surpasses its prequel in the imaginativeness of the setting. In addition to the steam- and dieselpunk technomagical industrial elements of New Crobuzon, TS introduces a very detailed and immersive nautical society. The Scar doesn’t limit itself to a single geographic location; throughout the course of the story, the characters visit a wide variety of islands and other bizarre locales. This gives it a bit more of an adventurous feel than PSS, which restricted the action to the New Crobuzon city limits.
At any rate, I recommend both novels if you’re looking for something a bit out-of-the-ordinary. Mieville’s writing is skillful and extremely vivid; it takes a while for the stories to really get started, but once they do, it’s hard to put them down. Check ’em out, and let me know what you think of them!

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