"This great wen, this dusty city dreamed up in bone and brick, a conspiracy of industry and violence, steeped in history and battened-down power, this badland beyond my ken. New Crobuzon." - Perdido Street Station
New Crobuzon is the main location in which the events of Perdido Street Station (novel) take place. The city is comprised of various neighbourhoods, species, social groups and different infrastructures. As China Meiville has said, NC has a steampunk appearance and many of its technologies are similar to Victorian inventions; the city contains a mixture of futuristic concepts which contrast its rudimentary basis.
The majority of NC's population are extremely poor and live in squalor; most of the cities buildings require repair and maintenance work meaning they look dilapidated and abandoned. It's not uncommon for people to squat (illegally inhabit) in buildings which don't belong to them; the lack of a functioning welfare system and benevolent government leaves thousands of people struggling to make ends meet. This problem is particularly prevalent amongst the alien species within the city; the garuda have occupied a ruined neighbourhood on the edge of the city, with many of them living in disused skyscrapers which were originally built to house wealthy new homeowners. Street urchins can often be seen roaming the streets of New Crobuzon and many children scavenge scrap and salvage to sell. Prostitution is rife amongst the lower-strata within the city, an inability to find paying legal work has forced people into bargaining their bodies for money. We can see this occurring when Derkhan visits the slaughterhouse on her way to the HQ of Runagate Rampant; numerous female prostitutes can be seen operating outside, serving the slaughter-men as they finish their day's work.
Going hungry is a regular occurrence for many of the people living in NC; a general state of economic deprivation and financial instability means that even legally employed residents of the city can often be left without food on the table. This inevitably leads to an increased crime rate which worsens the endemic issue of illegal drug trading and gang violence which several characters within the novel partake in; Motley and Lemuel are some examples.
Several affluent areas exist within New Crobuzon, making the disparity between rich and poor very noticeable; two entirely different neighbourhoods can be adjacent; one may be full of thriving businesses and commerce whilst the other is dirty, lawless and infested with crime. The government doesn't seem to make any attempt to re-balance the cities' wealth, leaving many people with feelings of resentment towards the state who fail to alleviate their economic turmoil.
New Crobuzon is home to a myriad of alien species; humans are the majority race within the city, followed by the Cactacae, a people who have the physical appearance of cacti and live within the glasshouse. During the events of Perdido Street Station, Isaac's meeting with the Garuda of NC reveals their home within the city; an abandoned, decaying neighbourhood where many of the birds live within old skyscrapers as they can fly from the extreme heights offered by the buildings. The Garuda have been ostracised by the other races within New Crobuzon, their long journey from the Cymek has led to them being perceived as outsiders who're potentially dangerous; their unique traditions and customs may also have generated fear amongst the cities' population out of wariness of their activities. As a result, their retreat to isolated enclaves within the city demonstrates both their unwillingness to integrate and the general hostility towards their species.
When Isaac visits The Dying Child, we meet the first Vodyanoi of the story; they're an aquatic people who closely resemble frogs and can manipulate water through a skill known as "Watercraeft." Their species don't compose a significant portion of New Crobuzon's populace, but many of them work in marine industries due to their amphibian physiology. Therefore, they play a vital role in maintaining the cities' economy which exports fish and also the operating of machinery along the riverbanks which enables vehicles to transport important materials around the city. Isaac's girlfriend Lin is a kephri; a half-insect and half-human species who use sign language to communicate. Due to their unique physiology, they're able to generate a colourful substance from glands within their body; this enables them to create "gland art." Many kephri make a living by selling their vibrant artwork and whole communities of their species have established themselves in New Crobuzon; trendy cafes, thriving businesses and a bustling nightlife have been forged within these popular neighbourhoods. Despite their obscure appearance and communication barriers, the kephri have integrated into NC more effectively than other races, meaning their relationship to humans is better than other species such as the garuda.
Notable Locations Edit
A wide variety of locations exist within New Crobuzon. This list shows the cities' important locations and more information will be provided on their own page:
Criminal activity is rife throughout NC; drug-trading, extortion, rape and violence are just some of the cruel acts which have become part-and-parcel of everyday life in many areas of the city. One of the most notorious criminals is known as Motley who plays a pivotal role within the events of the novel. He sells illegal hallucinogenic drugs around New Crobuzon having established himself as a criminal kingpin with numerous connections to other deviants around the city. Furthermore, these substances are often highly addictive, so his dependant clients will inevitably return; this enables the maintenance of a prolific drug trading monopoly across the city. Motley has become well-known amongst the residents of New Crobuzon; his dangerous profile has granted him an elevated status which he reinforces by using various underlings to induce fear within his enemies. As a result of the constant presence of accessible drugs, many people have resorted to taking mind-altering substances to distract themselves from the toil of everyday life; hallucinogenics and sedatives are popular, probably due to their intense effect. dreamshit, shazzabah and very-tea are some of the most widely-used substances.
However, many crimes in NC are petty acts of theft and vandalism; most people are impoverished and therefore driven to stealing in order to acquire food and other necessities. These problems aren't addressed by the government and police presence is nearly nonexistent on the streets; with crime being almost socially acceptable and no immediate barriers in place creates a criminogenic environment where legality is completely disregarded. As previously mentioned, prostitution is extremely common and perceived as a viable way of making money, particularly within the poorest areas of the city. Specific locations are a breeding ground for criminal activity; as seen early on in the story, Isaac visits The Dying Child where numerous drugs are being sold whilst deviants frequent the pub in order to gain information about the criminal underworld of New Crobuzon.