Aric's Reviews > Embassytown

Embassytown by China Miéville
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's review
Jul 22, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: sci-fi, science-fiction, classic, planetary-romance, linguistics
Read from July 16 to 22, 2011


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07/16/2011 page 155
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Aric The most beautiful literary production from Mieville yet! Embassytown reads like the love child of Ursula Le Guin and Frank Herbert, with world-building by Hieronymous Bosch. Some of the writing attains to poetry. Expect this to be a strong contender for the Hugo Award.

Embassytown is a mostly human ("Terre") ghetto surrounded by a city of "Hosts"/Ariekei -- a race of creatures who create living technologies and speak only in concrete facts. Human existence on Arieka depends on their goodwill. As one can expect from Mieville, drastic changes afflict this community, and humans have to figure out how to survive until the next ship comes from the capital planet. Both a ripping good yarn, and a set of extended metaphors about linguistics, politics, and theology, Embassytown enthralls.

In Embassytown, double-speaking ambassadors entertain the indigenous with Festivals of Lies. God is a drug. Lying is the best way to speak truth. Love makes people kill.

Note: The "learning curve" of this book is demanding, with a well-realized alien world that Mieville unveils an inch at a time. It's not for people looking for a cotton-candy novel, but it's worth the effort to understand. (I scored in the 99th percentile for verbal skills on the GRE, and it still had me looking up words on a regular basis--which is the kind of thing I love.)

I hope several of the neologisms from Embassytown wind up in geek parlance. For instance, "floaking", "exot", "miab", "Christos Pharotekton". I will have to try them out at the next SF con I go to....

It's also good to know that humans will still be reading George Lakoff in the future. That made my inner linguist happy.

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