China Miéville doesn’t follow trends, he sets them. Relentlessly pushing his own boundaries as a writer—and in the process expanding the boundaries of the entire field—with Embassytown, Miéville has crafted an extraordinary novel that is not only a moving personal drama but a gripping adventure of alien contact and war.
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.
©2011 China Mieville (P)2011 Random House
"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)
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
I tend not to write much about books I did not care for or totally understand. This book qualifies for both. Rather than any kind of rational or critical analysis I can only offer here feelings and opinion. Actually, this is the second of three books of Mieville that I pretty much felt that way about. But this was a book I really wanted to like and appreciate. It is a book about language and few things in the world fascinate me more than the subject of language.
I was part of a Goodreads group that read this piece together. I thought that would help. What I believe I did glean was that I was not the only one who struggled with this book. The fact is I generally enjoy tough books. Something I can really sink my teeth into. But the result of all this reader's intellectual mastication was mostly pretty bland. For the life of me I kept getting the feeling that one of Mieville's intentions was to make for a difficult read and not because the story called for it but just to be a pain in the ass.
I had to step back before writing anything about this book. I read five or six other books since finishing Embassytown. I thought maybe it would give me a more favorable perspective... 'didn't work.
I'm actually a bit angry still so I'm going to leave it at that before I get in too deeply. BTW, I'm not angry with CM. I get angry with me when I force myself to finish a book that I'm totally bored with most of the way through. My time is precious and this book just took too much of it.
I'm a voracious audiobibliophile, mainly interested in speculative fiction, with the occasional mimetic fiction or non-fiction title sneaking in.
Narrated by Susan Duerden, whose previous titles include Android Karenina, China Mieville???s Embassytown is my pick for the best science fiction and fantasy title to be released at Audible.com in May 2011. Duerden ably pilots us through the dense linguistic plot, and nice production touches give listeners a flavor of the Ariekei tongue of which readers can only be jealous, mashing words on top of each other to create a truly alien effect. (Here is a short, low-fi clip of me saying ???Jeff??? and ???Chi??? overtop each other in a similar way to give ???JeffChi???.) Meanwhile the book never devolves into pointless and expansive background and detail, without leaving us truly in the dark. In short, Mieville creates an alien world and lets it breathe, with the sometimes horrific suffocation this can imply. That said, the book opens with an intimidating series of undefined terminology, and alternates chronology from ???formerly??? to the present, and is a challenging book to unravel ??? to the point of, at times, an exasperated ???what is going on???? Sticking it out, however, is plenty rewarding.
Got to about 3/4 and gave up. Now that will say something; I'm normally feeling obligated to finish a book, if I can. I've really tried to like Mieville. The synopsis always sound so fascinating. I blamed part of my problems with 'Perdido Station' on Lee's narration [ I experience Lee as undigestible] This one was a different narrator, who did okay, a different story from 'Perdito Station', but so bleak, so confusing that I could not find it in me to finish this one. The aliens are just too mysterious and I did not get anywhere with their description and all the humans seemed to have been beamed over from '1984', they are depressed, scared furtive. Maybe I'm just not artistic enough to get it.
I'm all for creativity in a story, which Mieville does superb, but this story meanders aimlessly. I'm almost halfway through and just hanging on hoping it will get better. Aside from nonexistent action in the vague plot, the author insist on throwing in so much "Embassytown" techno jargon, that I'm often left hoping that eventually the author will reveal things, that usually are left for you to figure out or decipher yourself. The narrator doesn't help much, nor does the fact that it is read with a British accent, making it feel more like a Dr. Who episode.
Great sci-fi, but it lacks some thing that pulls you in. This book felt like a slow roll into a conclusion. There was none of the bang and zip, that I expect from the AAA titles out there.
Narration was crisp and good, and the dual voices gave place and meaning in ways that a paper book might have stumbled though.
Absolutely - given that the Ariekei speak using two voices, listening to the audio version really allows you to appreciate that. Also, I feel like I would have flown through this book out of desperation to find out what happened next had I read it, and this is one that deserves appreciation of every word.
I feel like this might be odd, but I was extremely invested in the characters, especially the Ariekei. I was completely riveted, and completely immersed.
I may have pounded the steering wheel in triumph at least once and yes...cried piteously while out on a walk one day (I had to take time to compose myself before returning to work).
I am so glad that my brother recommended this book so forcefully and frequently to me. I am not a big reader of sci-fi, and the description didn't really captivate me. However, I trust his judgment, so gave it a try. I'm so glad I did - I think it was one of the most interesting, engrossing, and moving books I have read all year (or longer). I think everyone should give this book a try, regardless of whether it is a genre they usually enjoy. I would think that lovers of serious fiction and young adult fiction alike (although perhaps not actual children - older teens should be fine) would enjoy this book, as I did.
This book is awesome. And very hard to describe. It's a must listen. The language play makes it a must audiobook purchase. It's the most creative and interesting scifi to come along in a long time. Brilliant.
Completely imaginative story about Language, written in language.
Worth the read, if just to understand this review.
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