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Embassytown Paperback – January 31, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (January 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780345524508
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345524508
  • ASIN: 0345524500
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (207 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A fully achieved work of art.”—Ursula K. Le Guin
 
“The most engrossing book I’ve read this year, and the latest evidence that brilliant, challenging, rewarding writing of the highest order is just as likely to be found in the section labeled Science Fiction as the one marked Literature.”Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
 
“Original, sophisticated, bristling with subversive ideas, and filled with unforgettably alien images . . . an amazing, sometimes brutal rhapsody on the uses of language.”—The Christian Science Monitor
 
“Richly conceived . . . Embassytown has the feel of a word-puzzle, and much of the pleasure of figuring out the logic of the world and the story comes from gradually catching the full resonance of its invented and imported words.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“Miéville’s swing-for-the-fences gusto thrills. This is Big Idea Sci-Fi at its most propulsively readable.”—Entertainment Weekly
 
“Miéville [is] one of today’s most exciting fabulist writers.”—Los Angeles Times

About the Author

China Miéville is the author of several books, including Perdido Street Station, The City & The City, and Kraken. His works have won the Hugo, the British Science Fiction Award (twice), the Arthur C. Clarke Award (three times) and the World Fantasy Award. He lives and works in London.


From the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

China Miéville is the author of King Rat; Perdido Street Station, winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the British Fantasy Award; The Scar, winner of the Locus Award and the British Fantasy Award; Iron Council, winner of the Locus Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award; Looking for Jake, a collection of short stories; and Un Lun Dun, his New York Times bestselling book for younger readers. He lives and works in London.

Customer Reviews

Too much time and effort has been devoted to describing and explaining the world, and too little to character and plot development.
William C. Mead
I found the story to be engaging, the main characters to be intriguing, and the philosophical and linguistic speculations at the heart of the story to be fascinating.
Nathan Andersen
I usually will at least speedread through the rest of a book just to see what happens, but I couldn't even be bothered to do that - I was that bored with it.
owookiee

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

206 of 223 people found the following review helpful By R. C. Bowman on April 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm not actually a China Mieville fan. The entire "New Weird" genre just sort of confuses me, and I'm rarely impressed (to be fair, he's a fantastic writer). "Un Lun Dun" and "Kraken", particularly, didn't really leave favorable impressions. Still, I did love "King Rat" and "Perdido Street Station", and his other books were enjoyable. Also, it's stupid to not read anything else by a prolific author simply because two books weren't your thing. Add to that the fact that "Embassytown" is, at least superficially, hard-core science fiction...well, it was enough for me to take the plunge.

"Embassytown" is told through the eyes of Immerser Avice Benner Cho. She first chronicles her childhood on the planet Ariekei, giving us glimpses of Mieville's multi-layered world: most children don't grow up with their birth parents. They live in communal homes with multiple parents (much like counselors.) Humans share their world with "exots"--aliens (exoterres). But this isn't some two-dimensional Star Wars or silly Futurama-type melting pot. Exots are screened. With one important exception, exots can only settle on Ariekei if their sociologic and, to an extent, genetic makeup (they must have language, move comfortably in a human-run world, have similar thought processes, et cetera) is similar enough to allow integration with humans.

Humans do not own Ariekei, however. We are settlers, only living on the planet because beings known only as Hosts permit us to.

The Hosts protect themselves. While benevolent, especially toward children, they have a part of the planet only they can enter; humans can't breathe in their area. They circumvent the human similarity, as well (it's their planet, after all.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Brendan Moody TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
China Miéville's fertile imagination has always explored the interstices of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, but this, his eighth novel, is more strongly tilted toward science fiction than its predecessors. On a planet dominated by aliens whose unique language demands a uniquely specialized form of communication, the isolated human community of Embassytown lives a life of benign neglect, having only occasional contact with the society of which it's a nominal colony and the natives on whom its livelihood depends. When that harmony is shattered by an impossible arrival and an unexpected discovery, Avice Benner Cho, positioned by fate at the nexus of several conflicting agendas, finds herself caught up in the tragic, violent birth of a new order.

Miéville uses theoretical questions about the nature of language as a jumping-off point, but doesn't explore them in any rigorous way; this is not so much a novel of ideas as of images. As ever, the author excels at portraying an urban existence that's alien and yet based in universal aspects of city life. Embassytown is first seen through a child's eyes, as flashbacks detail Avice's early years, the games and myths that spring up in the lives of children surrounded by strangers, whether those strangers belong to a different ethnic group or a different species. No awkward exposition blunts the mystery of Avice's city, and readers not familiar with the immersive quality of novels like this one may find themselves lost. But before too much time passes, Miéville weaves seemingly-disparate threads together into a deeply satisfying moment of revelation. At that point, the novel truly takes off.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Lynnda Ell VINE VOICE on April 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I read science fiction to be entertained and to stretch my understanding of ideas I might never otherwise consider. Embassytown gave me a huge dose of both. China Mieville wrote a stimulating, entertaining story of the importance of language. He did that by introducing an alien culture totally out of sync with the way in which human beings communicate - even though both species communicate through sound.

The protagonist, Avice, grew up in the one human town - Embassytown - on the alien's planet. The town was an outpost of a human-dominated world and not a large place to live. Mieville does a good job of grounding the reader in the culture of the synergy between humans and aliens by allowing Avice to tell certain important parts of her childhood.

The story begins in a time of rapid and traumatic change that threatens to destroy the aliens' world and Embassytown. The snowballing events pressure breakthroughs that offer changes as devastating as the ones at the beginning of the story.

I had two problems with the advanced proofs that I received for review. (The book is due to be released in May.) First, about 50-to-75 pages near the center of the book slowed down to the point of slogging through mud. (Mieville spends too many pages getting through the times when any action is taking place out of Avice's sight.) Second, one of the subplots that seemed to be important several times in the book - Avice's relationship with Ehrsul - ended strangely, even for sci-fi. Those are the only reasons that I rated the book with four stars instead of five.

With all truly well written science fiction stories, the first reading is for orientation to a new world and to make the paradigm shifts necessary to understanding the plot.
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