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Embassytown Hardcover – May 17, 2011
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PRAISE FOR CHINA MIÉVILLE
“I cannot emphasize enough how terrific this novel is. It's definitely one of the best books I've read in the past year, perfectly balanced between escapism and otherworldly philosophizing.” --Io9.com
“Embassytown is a fully achieved work of art…Works on every level, providing compulsive narrative, splendid intellectual rigour and risk, moral sophistication, fine verbal fireworks and sideshows, and even the old-fashioned satisfaction of watching a protagonist become more of a person than she gave promise of being.”
--Ursula K Le Guin
“A breakneck tale of suspense…disturbing and beautiful by turns. And yes—China Mieville’s new novel is one of his best...I cannot emphasize enough how terrific this novel is.”
“The Kafkaesque writer journeys to the distant edges of the universe in his latest sci-fi thriller.”
“Utterly astonishing…A major intellectual achievement.”
“Brilliant storytelling…The result is a world masterfully wrecked and rebuilt.”
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The stakes [are] driven high and almost anything can happen. The reader is primed for a memorable payoff, and Miéville more than delivers.”—San Francisco Chronicle
The City & The City
“If Philip K. Dick and Raymond Chandler’s love child were raised by Franz Kafka, the writing that emerged might resemble . . . The City & The City.”—Los Angeles Times
Perdido Street Station
“Compulsively readable . . . impossible to expunge from memory.”—The Washington Post Book World
“A fantastic setting for an unforgettable tale . . . memorable because of Miéville’s vivid language [and] rich imagination.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“A masterwork . . . a story that pops with creativity.”—Wired
Un Lun Dun
“Endlessly inventive . . . [a] hybrid of Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and The Phantom Tollbooth.”—Salon
From the Inside Flap
Welcome to Arieka, the distant, densely imagined planet that serves as principal setting for China Mieville's extraordinary new novel, Embassytown.Immerser Avice Benner Cho has returned to her childhood home, from her adventures in the Out. Her world is as mysterious, complex, and exotic as any you will ever encounter. It is a world in which humans and exots co-exist with the indigenous, enigmatic Ariekeiotherwise known as Hosts. That relationship, which is mediated by a group of unique linguists, the Ambassadors, has proceeded in relative tranquility for many years. Then one day a new, utterly unexpected Ambassador arrives Embassytown is a novel about diplomacy and conflict in a vividly created alien society. It is also, most centrally, a meditation on the power and infinitely varied possibilities of language itself. The result is an intellectual adventure of the highest order, a distinguished addition to an imposingand constantly surprisingbody of work. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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If you haven't read Miéville before, you may want to start with The Kracken, which is a bit lighter work out on the brain, but definitely dive right in. My favorite is The City in the City - a little book with a big punch, but decide for yourself. He is habit forming.
It full of great ideas at first, i.e the immer, different worlds and alien species, and that is what made me purchase it as I really enjoy science fiction that describes a universe I couldn't even imagine. Unfortunately these ideas are almost nothing more than a mention and never explored or described in greater detail.
The actual plot/story is dragged out with some very dense writing and I won't repeat the plot since othes have in detail. The author is clearly a good writer but it's like he's trying too hard.
Mieville also creates a very sympathetic and compelling character, Avice, through whom these ideas are explored. The reader can admire, identify and root for her but at the same time she is flawed enough to seem genuine. Examples - her acceptance of "floaking" as a lifestyle; her occasional willingness to take advantage of her status as a returned immerser; etc. But she ultimately comes across as strong, humble, and honest. Her perspective and narration is a real strength of the book.
The aspect of the book that holds me back from a full 5-star rating is the overlong, somewhat rambling, section describing the rampage of the addicted Areikei. I guess Mieville felt compelled to add some "action," thinking that a "novel of ideas" on its own wasn't enough. But I found that this part of the story dragged on long after I had gotten the point, and diluted the more interesting themes of the book.
But Mieville regains his footing toward the end, and brings us back in time for a deep, provocative conclusion. Despite his short detour, you have to applaud the way he puts forward these highly relevant and timeless themes.
Moreover, certain passages are just pure fun to read, because of the embedded language puzzles and playfulness. Inventing the language of the Areikei, and the role that humans play in the creation of certain figures of speech (Avice is a simile), is a tour-de-force of creativity.