Embassytown

345 pages

English language

Published April 17, 2011 by Ballantine Books.

ISBN:
9780345524492

View on OpenLibrary

4 stars (16 reviews)

In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak.

Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist, has returned to Embassytown after years of deep-space adventure. She cannot speak the Ariekei tongue, but she is an indelible part of it, having long ago been made a figure of speech, a living simile in their language.

When distant political machinations deliver a new ambassador to Arieka, the fragile equilibrium between humans and aliens is violently upset. Catastrophe looms, and Avice is torn between competing loyalties—to a husband she no longer loves, to a system she no longer trusts, and to her place in a language she cannot speak yet speaks through her.

2 editions

Review of 'Embassytown' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

I, a non-zionist anarchist Israeli, read this book in English because Mieville, a marxist-leninist Brit, refuses to let his books be translated to Hebrew. I found this to be a rather silly affair, but, cutting to the crux of the matter: Embassytown is a story about colonialism, imperialism and early modern day capitalism, cleverly disguised as a story about two-mouthed, experts in bio-engineering and "bio-rigging", well - aliens. While Mieville's writing is lacking, in my opinion, a good amount of emotional force and is, unfortunely, tiring at times, his observations on the connection between socio-political oppression and the usage of language, which form the main axis around which the entire narrative is composed around, are illuminating and extremely valuable. To sum things up, this is a good educational and exciting book.

Review of 'Embassytown' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

I think China Mieville is tremendously inventive. In Embassytown (and a few others, really) he struggles to give his imaginings a structure in which I can really commit and invest. In a good portion of this one, I couldn't even conjure up mental images of what was going on, who the actors were, why any of these tribulations mattered. The ineffable remains un-effed.

That sounds a bit like what I would say about a one- or two-star novel, but this is worth more than that. I feel a bit inadequate to the work, really - like listening to a physicist talk about a few more dimensions than the one (three? four?) than I'm used to experiencing and just having to take her word for it. Physics and New Weird fiction - beyond my grasp.

Review of 'Embassytown' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

China Mieville does it again: an excellent book! This may be the best I've read from him yet (or best ever), though at the moment I can't decide if I like it more than [b:The City & The City|4703581|The City and the City|China Miéville|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1320475957s/4703581.jpg|4767909].
The first ~third of the book is absolutely awesome. It's classic sci-fi like something you would expect from Asimov or Clarke.
The next ~third drags a bit, but only because the focus shifts a bit from being about the concepts to being about the plot/characters.
The final ~third is great and shines new light on that middle third that makes it quite exciting.
The ending is quite satisfying and the story overall doesn't feel as dark as some of his other works (I'm looking at you, [b:Perdido Street Station|68494|Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon, #1)|China Miéville|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1327891688s/68494.jpg|3221410]).
I love the way he expresses the Hosts' Language. It looks …

Review of 'Embassytown' on 'Storygraph'

4 stars

It takes a while to sink into this, to stop being vaguely confused and no longer need to reread sentences to see if you missed some context that would make sense of the whole thing. Similar to Gene Wolfe's SF, Miéville just throws the reader into the middle of this world and leaves them to muddle things out. Which on the one hand, sort of makes sense... Though on the other hand, not, because it leaves me to wonder who the narrator's intended audience is. Other Embassytowners? Off-worlders? Is it a private journal?

Otherwise, this is a brilliant book, exploring the role of language and figure of speech in psychology, and speculating on the role it might play in the lives and interactions of extraterrestrial sentient species.
The characters, even the only briefy-mentioned or wholly alien, are extremely well-fleshed, interesting, relateable. I got teary during a certain speech at the …

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Subjects

  • Fiction
  • Space warfare
  • Human-alien encounters
  • Loyalty
  • Life on other planets