Winner of the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, China Miéville's astonishing Embassytown is an intelligent and immersive exploration of language in an alien world.
Embassytown: a city of contradictions on the outskirts of the universe.
Avice is an immerser, a traveller on the immer, the sea of space and time below the everyday, now returned to her birth planet. Here on Arieka, humans are not the only intelligent life, and Avice has a rare bond with the natives, the enigmatic Hosts - who cannot lie.
Only a tiny cadre of unique human Ambassadors can speak Language, and connect the two communities. But an unimaginable new arrival has come to Embassytown. And when this Ambassador speaks, everything changes.
Catastrophe looms. Avice knows the only hope is for her to speak directly to the alien Hosts.
And that is impossible.
Mi ville (Kraken) adds to the sparse canon of linguistic SF with this deeply detailed story of the ways an alien language might affect not only thought patterns but ways of life. Avice Benner Cho returns to her backwater colony home of Embassytown so her linguist husband, Scile, can study the almost empathic, in-the-present language of the planet's natives, the Hosts. When a Host learns to lie, the resulting massive cultural earthquake in Host society is compounded by two new Ambassadors whose voices have a profound physiological effect on the Hosts. Mi ville's brilliant storytelling shines most when Avice works through problems and solutions that develop from the Hosts' unique and convoluted linguistic evolution, and many of the most intriguing characters are the Hosts themselves. The result is a world masterfully wrecked and rebuilt.
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Beauty, Reality, Truth
I complete my reading of Embassytown with tears in my eyes, admiration for China Mieville, even surpassing the reading of all his other books. Thank you for your gift not just of literature that defies the context of language, even though it uses the context of language, but the fact that I find after any reading of your work, that it changes the mind.
Embassytown is the very essence of what the world and it's current state needs to see and acknowledge. Learning new ways to be on this planet require not just mind shifts or coaching or comfortable dynamics. It requires a revolution. A revolution of the mind that shifts it 720 degrees out of its axis.
Thank you for ushering in an age of revolutionary transformation, a necessary Manifesto for our times.
Every person who can should read this book.
Addicted to the Language
The first third is very much about world building, and I can understand why a lot of people get frustrated that not much happens. But what a world Mieville builds!
In another author's hands, this would be considered Hard Sci-Fi, but Mieville instead turns it into primarily a study of language, consciousness, communication between sentient species, and the thought processes that generate and allow this. In the Ariekene he creates a species that are not just alien in their appearance, technology and social structure, but in the fundamental way they communicate.
This is not just a case of "they communicate via telepathy/pheromones/whatever", but the creation of a fundamentally new form of consciousness that necessitates a unique Language. All on the backdrop of hyperreality which is painted in tantalisingly broad strokes.
It's an intoxicating mix, and I for one could not get enough of it. I hope this is not the last of Mieville's work we see in this universe.
My only criticism would be please Mr Mieville, never use the word 'pugnacious' ever again.