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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Story

A refreshing blast of creative story telling

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.

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Through the eyes Avice who hel battle a vice...

Completely imaginative story about Language, written in language.

Worth the read, if just to understand this review.

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captivating story,

the story is very captivating, and the presentation is excellent. worth listing in to in the car.

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:-) !

i think this book is really suited to be listened to instead of read. and it's really good. i love all the things about how language works.

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Fantastic

I got lost in the world created by China Mireille.
So beautiful and vividly described. And the narrator gave an outstanding performance.

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Excellent book, did not enjoy audio

Embassytown is a fantastic novel, but I did not enjoy the reader's voice. Elements conveyed well in the written form were difficult to parse for me when heard. But your ears are different from mine and it might be better for you to hear.

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A Linguistic Masterpiece, but Better Seen than Heard

Would you listen to Embassytown again? Why?

No. The book is great. The story is great (when it picks up). And the recording is great. However, the book is meant to offer commentary on language, and I had to look at Wikipedia for reference to understand a lot of the written subtlety of it. Also, one alien species speaks a language with two separate speaking organs making different simultaneous sounds. Narrator Susan Duerden uses sound editing to handle this brilliantly. However, it makes for a very difficult listening experience. I enjoyed the book, but would rather re-read a text copy.

What did you like best about this story?

The examination of language not as communicating merely what is but what could be is a fascinating phenomena. The protagonist is a "simile"--a living extension of Language. She acts "like a girl who ate what she was given." Thus, she is able to introduce new ideas to an alien culture by comparing other existing ideas to her--the girl who ate what she was given. An addict consumes a drug "like the girl who ate what she was given." That whole idea--making people into similes, into extensions of language--is absolutely astounding!

Which scene was your favorite?

This is difficult. A few scenes come to mind. One small scene was when someone's biomechanic prosthetic sprouted an ear to listen to an addictive linguistic drug being spoken. That small detail really intrigued me and served as a great metaphor for addiction and technology.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

"In space, nobody can hear your two speaking organs scream!"China Mieville has many books worthy of movies. This one might be too smart for Hollywood to do.

Any additional comments?

China Mieville is an amazing author. Susan Duerden is a fantastic narrator!The story here is as captivating as the science fiction elements!However, this book is not always easy to listen to because of the complex nature of sometimes hearing two sounds spoken simultaneously for short monosyllabic names, greetings, and other moments.
Still, it was well worth the listen and I'm glad I purchased the book!

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McNovel

I finished only because I felt like the uncomprehending alien characters: sure that something worthwhile must be about to happen because of all the energy that was wasted up to that point. Beating my head against a wall or my office chair helped to pass the time while these words happened to me.

The binary voices were presented well and the reader was quite pleasant. I have no complaint with the Audible production.

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Good plot - poor story.

The author didn't excellent job of world building and character development. The idea or plot behind the story was very good too. Unfortunately the way the author told the story the reader /listener could often get lost. The author did not put enough detail and explanation at the beginning of a story or a new element in the story for the reader to fully understand and visualize what was happening or what was going on. The narrator did an excellent job of making sense of the story for the listener. The voice characterization was done very.

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Fantastic

I can really only say that this was done ingeniously. I had thought this was a premise that would be hard to pull off in audio book, with so many unpronounceable words and difficult ideas you have to go back with, but if anything that all adds to this books accessibility. Having listened to this I feel like I know so much more about how Language worked than I did just reading the book.