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3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  20,358 Ratings  ·  2,505 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 o
ebook, 368 pages
Published May 17th 2011 by Del Rey (first published 2011)
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Stephanie Davidson
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Jasna Maksimovic Ariekei cannot lie because they cannot conceive of it. To practice lying and succeed at it is to allow concepts that don't exist to be conceived in…moreAriekei cannot lie because they cannot conceive of it. To practice lying and succeed at it is to allow concepts that don't exist to be conceived in the mind. This would change the fabric of their society fundamentally.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Sometimes words can shatter worlds. Especially when they are like this:
""I don't want to be a simile anymore," I said. "I want to be a metaphor."

This book lived up to all my expectations. No, it did not quite knock The Scar off its Miévillish pedestal but it came pretty damn close to it. (Hey, Catie, we both agree on that!) I loved it so much, and yet when a colleague politely asked what it was about (when I told him I stayed up half the night before taking call to read it) I could not figure
BLARGH this guy. This guy needs to be stopped. He is using all the ideas. He is taking all the genres.

(I was going to delete that but it got 10 votes, so it can stay. The sentiment still rings true. Stop using up all the ideas, you limey bastard!)


INTERIOR: Parking garage. Almost every space is full. The only opening is a narrow space labeled "Compact Car." To its left sits a SHINY MOTORCYCLE.

[A BLACK LEXUS creeps into view. The driver is irritated, swinging his head back and forth in sea
Jeffrey Keeten
Jan 25, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
“Now the Ariekei were learning to speak, and to think, and it hurt.”

I’m addicted to language; we all are.

While reading this book, I thought about language. I haven’t really thought about it from the standpoint of it not existing or that it is something to be discovered, like traces of gold in a California riverbed. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have language. The ability to express myself has served me well. Not that I haven’t said the wrong thing or said the right thing at the wrong t
How can a novel about language leave one speechless? In a good way, I hasten to add!

This was the third Mieville I’ve read, and they are all very different in style, content and my liking (or not).

The core idea of this one is language: how minds shape language and how language shapes minds. Wonderful as it was, I can see reasons why some people would hate it, or find it too weird, or just not sci-fi enough. If you don’t delight in polysemy and are not interested in the difference between simile a
June 2011
Dear Steven Moffat:

China Miéville. Doctor Who. Think about it.


Avice Benner Cho is an Immerser. She's a floaker. She's a hoopy frood who knows where her towel is (Dear Jane Belson: China Miéville. Hitchhiker's Guide. Bad idea?). She's also a simile. When she was a child on the strangest planet in the universe, home to the strangest beings in the universe, she became a living part of the strangest language in the universe. And then she left to explore the Out, and then she retu
Dec 23, 2011 Carol. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of The Dispossessed, alien cultural intersections
In ninth grade, Mrs. Muench--who had an uncanny resemblance to Miss Marple's friend Dolly Bantry--endeavored to teach us the difference between similes and metaphors.

Similes use "like" and "as" to compare two unlike things.

Metaphors state two unlike things are the same.

But dear, enthusiastic Mrs. Muench could not have anticipated China's sophistry: metaphors are lies.

Embassytown is a deep-thinking book, not one to pick up if you are in a the mood for a fast action read. China's use of a futuris
Sep 08, 2011 Apatt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Aliens so alien they just alienate you with their alieness.

That is what you have to look forward to. Embassytown is a brave move by China Miéville, it is not an easy read, it is full of neologism, and it has a steep learning curve. The author made an effort to create something special and he expects some mental exertion from the reader too. In order for the reader to indulge the author they generally need to have a store of goodwill for that author to want to make the effort. Basically, this sho
Apr 01, 2014 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The girl who wanted to be a metaphor.

There is a certain “What the hell??” quality about a China Mieville novel, especially in the first few pages. The City and the City continued on in this quizzical, absurdist mouth breathing until damn near the middle of the book. To put in Forrest Gump terms, the box of chocolates may reveal pieces that are most definitively NOT chocolate, are in point of fact not even food; some bite-sized morsels may be poison. The box may even be a prop from a Justin Timbe
Ian "Marvin" Grayejoy
Proem: In Which an Ambassador Iangrayetiates Himself With His Host With Impunity

Is a simile
Like a metaphor?
I cannot espouse
This figure of speech.
This not unlike that?
One word a signpost?

Can this be that, or
Would subject object?
How could I be you?
Worse still, you be me?
Well, I know my place,
I'm not one to boast.

I am, like, content
To be just a guest,
Sometimes arriving
First and leaving last.
Not competitive,
Neither least nor most.

A figure of speech,
An Ambassador,
If you please, beyond
Compare and c
I see I'm going to be a dissenting voice here, but I'm afraid I found Embassytown to be weak, poorly-plotted and fundamentally unconvincing.

The book is concerned with a settlement on a planet at the edge of the known universe. The city is inhabited by Ariekei, a strange species whose distinguishing feature is a unique language which has a double articulation and in which it is impossible to lie. A small enclave of humans lives there, and communicates with their ‘Hosts’ via a series of Ambassador
Jul 27, 2011 Catie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Catie by: Nataliya
I wasn’t planning to review this book, but I just can’t stop thinking about it. And then I realized last night that the Hugo Award winners will be announced today and I suddenly had this pang of fan-superstition, like one of those crazy sport people who feel compelled to wear the same socks for a whole week. Maybe if I review this today, he’ll win. Maybe I can speak my wish into reality. See? I really can’t stop thinking about this book.

This book is very different than almost anything else I’ve
Ben Babcock
Some books are just made for readers. Embassytown, with its focus on the way language shapes our perceptions and our thoughts, is one such book. As readers we are conoisseurs of language, we inhale it and revel in it and cultivate it and all of its diversity. Language informs us, sways us, entertains us, engages us … it is everything to us.

Science fiction seems, to me, like a perfect vehicle for exploring our dependence upon language. After all, there has been a great deal of speculation about h
Arielle Walker
Embassytown is that rare thing in recent literature: unique. I'm sure there must be other books, other stories that deal with similar ideas, but I have yet to come across anything that comes close to the beautiful strangeness of this book.

There are cons: Embassytown is far from perfect. Like all of Mieville's work that I've read so far, it is hard work (especially at the start) but it does get easier as the story begins to grip you. This is not a comfortable, lazy read. Sometimes I found that t
Jun 09, 2011 Simon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: language

There is no subject, not love, religion, sex, music, that generates more quasi-mystical but ultimately senseless gushing than.... language. I liked this book quite a lot, and wanted to like it more; but I was so unable to credit its central conceit, the Hosts' "Language", that I have to judge the book something of a failure. Here are some of my problems with it.

Language (capital L) both is and is not a language. (Fans of the language mysticism in this book might prefer that I wrote the f
David Sven
Jun 09, 2013 David Sven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This is my first Mieville, and my first foray into his “weird fiction” as he likes to call it. And it is weird - and wonderful at the same time. Embassytown is not just an imagination of new worlds, so much as an imagination of concepts. In this case, specifically, Language.

I had to restart this book three times because I didn’t have a clue what was going on at the start. We’re on another planet, guests of an alien race who can talk to us but we can’t talk to them. Our Hosts have two mouths and
This may be one of the best books I've read this year.

I wasn't sure if I'd end up in the love-him or hate-him camp since this was my first China Miéville, but it seems I love him! He had been very hyped up by friends and reviews and general opinion and I was nervous that I wouldn't like his work as a result.

The commentary on language and communication was just mind blowing. I could attempt to summarize some of the more interesting points but honestly I think I'd need to read the book a few tim
Feb 16, 2017 Mangrii rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Embassytown es una de las obras más conocidas del autor británico, ganadora del premio Locus a mejor novela de ciencia ficción en 2012. La novela nos sitúa en Arieka, un planeta remoto habitado por los enigmáticos ariekei y que los humanos han colonizado. Estos seres utilizan una lengua totalmente insólita en el universo que solo un reducido grupo de embajadores es capaz de comprender y comunicarse con ella. Cuando un nuevo embajador del extranjero llega a Arieka, el equilibrio en el que la Urbe ...more
3.5 stars

This was my 2nd experience with China Mieville, and just like the first--I read The City & the City earlier this year--it was an unparalleled reading experience. One thing I commend Mieville for is his incredibly inventive mind. His ability to create worlds, characters, histories, storylines and all the elements required to develop such complex novels is really astounding.

In Embassytown we follow Avice [forgive me for any spelling errors in this review, I listened to the audiobook
Hazal Çamur
Oct 23, 2016 Hazal Çamur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bir ulusu yok etmenin ya da asilime etmenin üç yolu vardır: Din, eğitim ve dil. China Miéville "dil" seçeneğini alarak bize bilimkurgu soslu bir hiciv oluşmuştur. Kendisinden ilk kez bilimkurgu türünde bir roman okuyorum ve altından başarıyla kalktığını söyleyebilirim.

Miéville'e has o çılgın tasarımlar, akıllara zarar kurmaca unsurları bu kitapta da bizlerle ve tamamen bu dünyaya has biçimde yaratılmış durumdalar. Elbette bir Perdido Sokağı İstasyonu kadar çeşit yok, ama olanlar da yeterince güz
Jan 24, 2017 Snotchocheez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

I think I'm going to have to submit to a higher power for this one. (Miéville's 'Christ Pharotekton' will do).

It takes a special breed of Sci-Fi fan (one who's also a word nerd) to fully appreciate the meta-universe-building displayed in China Miéville's Embassytown, and alas, I'm just not quite that fan. I totally admire the effort (from my limited perspective, the best alterna-world construction I've encountered since reading Frank Herbert's Dune eons ago) but I just could not conne
What is Embassytown about?

Embassytown is about reality.
Embassytown is about how we make reality.
Embassytown is about how we speak reality.
Embassytown is reality.
Embassytown is unreal.
Embassytown is about religion.
Embassytown is about the spirit.
Embassytown is about being incorruptible.
Embassytown is about corruption.
Embassytown is corruption.
Embassytown is about the opiated masses.
Embassytown is about what opiates the masses.
Embassytown is about any opiates for any masses.
Embassytown is opiates
May 18, 2011 Derek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: sf
This is why I read China Miéville!

I recently finished The Scar and was thoroughly disappointed, giving it the lowest rating I've given to one of his books. So, I felt I just had to jump into Embassytown, and loved it from the start.

SF is full of "aliens", but for the most part they're odd-looking humans, or at least "people". They're not really all that alien. Miéville's Ariekei are not only completely alien, he never even really clearly describes their appearance - it just isn't that important.
A great accomplishment in a central theme of science fiction, that of humans blundering their way toward fuller communication and understanding of an alien species. Despite some plodding of the plot in the middle and a struggle to accede to the overlying premise of the tale, this was well compensated for by good engagement in the fate of in-depth characters, plenty of ingenious invention and atmospheric conveyance with the details, and fascinating reflection on how very different species may hav ...more
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads
Of course I've heard of China Miéville. Everyone has heard of him. BUT. I haven't actually read him. Yet.

Then today I was reading this Ursula K. Le Guin interview: (which is fabulous, btw), and she--YES, Le Guin herself--named EMBASSYTOWN as one of her all time favorite Science Fiction reads, so . . . I decided it's time to see what all the fuss is about.

Check out the blurb:

In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic
Jun 10, 2011 Sandi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, audiobooks, 2011
I was thrilled to find a copy of Embassytown at the library a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I only made it through about 40 pages before I had to return it. Those were a tough 40 pages that really hurt my brain. At some point, I realized that my problem was less about the book than about the fact that I just couldn't hear it right in my head. Avice, the first-person narrator, tells the story in a slang that kept making me stumble. She doesn't define anything in her world because she assumes that ...more
Feb 22, 2017 Xabi1990 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Pag 160 (40%) y hasta aquí hemos llegado. Abandonado.

El Sr. Mieville se crea un pseudo-constructo filosófico-lingüista y a partir de ahí se divierte explorando las opciones de esa entelequia.

Lo cual estaría muy bien (la CF está llena de desarrollos de hipótesis plausibles) si para mí revistiese algo de interés, cosa que no ha sido el caso.

Ni la lingüística ni los símiles ni las motivaciones me han atrapado. Los personajes ni de lejos. Y la lentitud de mostrarnos el meollo de la trama tampoco ha
Jan 29, 2014 Robyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating look at the way language underlies thought, action, being, done in a way that only science-fiction really can. The world of the Hosts & Embassytown is fascinating, full of bio-rigged homes and shrubs with legs -- world-building is such a strength of Miéville's. An entire lexicon, sentient species, and universe to explore in one book. I think what stopped this from being a 5-star read for me was that the most compelling character (Spanish Dancer) out of a cast of relatively flat p ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I decided to read Embassytown after it had been nominated for practically every science fiction award in 2011-2012. I have only read The City and the City prior to this book, although I've always meant to go back and read some of his earlier books.

I kept getting distracted by other books (mostly poetry), so reading this took longer than most books do, but that shouldn't be interpreted as a lack of recommendation.

Embassytown is about language. I kept hearing that, and assumed it was code for "C
Nov 16, 2010 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm ashamed to admit that I was doubting Mieville (sorry, don't know how to do the accent mark) at the beginning of this novel. All of his books prior to this one had grabbed me from the start. However, I almost felt like I was reading an anthropologist's field notebook about a tribe being studied, for the first quarter of the book.

Once it was all said and done though, I get why it was necessary. I'm still amazed he pulled the plot off. It would have been a disaster if attempted by a less adept
Lisa Vegan
Aug 29, 2011 Lisa Vegan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Sarah Pi Pinkster & Ceridwen
what to say? what to say?

What an odd book.

It was a slog for me. I didn’t have a lot of fun reading it; it was more of a frustrating challenge than pleasure reading. But it was fascinating, and highly creative. This is my first book by this author and I’m not running to read others by him. I’m afraid this is my failing: to not fully appreciate what was done here. It is brilliant in its way, maybe worthy of even 5 stars.

This author does almost too good a job at making the aliens and the society se
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A British "fantastic fiction" writer. He is fond of describing his work as "weird fiction" (after early 20th century pulp and horror writers such as H. P. Lovecraft), and belongs to a loose group of writers sometimes called New Weird who consciously attempt to move fantasy away from commercial, genre clichés of Tolkien epigons. He is also active in left-wing politics as a member of the Socialist W ...more
More about China Miéville...

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“Word spread because word will spread. Stories and secrets fight, stories win, shed new secrets, which new stories fight, and on.” 866 likes
“It felt like being a child again, though it was not. Being a child is like nothing. It's only being. Later, when we think about it, we make it into youth.” 68 likes
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