Map and Text: World-Architecture and the Case of Miéville’s Perdido Street Station

Stefan Ekman


In this essay, the author argues that analysing a fantasy novel that comes with a map without taking into account the dynamic between map and text would be to omit a vital part of the fictional world. By drawing on the Vitruvian triad of architectural theory, the construction of the world in China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station (2001) is analysed through some building-blocks of that world that emerge prominently on the novel’s map. After a brief discussion of world-building and fantasy maps, the map is taken as a starting point in order to demonstrate how the transport network in general and railways and skyrail in particular are given distinctive form. One function that these building-blocks have in the novel is to provide locations which the reader can use to link dynamically between text and map, thus relating locations to each other spatially and adding layers of meaning to them, turning them from spaces into places. Passages in the text are used to show how it is possible to move between map and text, and how such movement not only augments the spatiality of the world but that it also provides a way to discuss the city’s social and economic issues by juxtaposing different characters’ perspectives.


China Miéville; fantasy literature; fantasy maps; Perdido Street Station; world-architecture; world-building

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