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3.87  ·  Rating details ·  23,818 ratings  ·  2,840 reviews
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 life, and Avice has a bond with the natives, the enigmatic Hosts - who cannot lie.
Paperback, 405 pages
Published January 5th 2012 by Pan Books (first published 2011)
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3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  23,818 ratings  ·  2,840 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Jan 25, 2016 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
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
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. It is by far my favorite Mieville book: I reread it and listened to it more times than I can remember. I loved it so much, and yet when a colleague politely asked what it was about (when I told him I stayed u
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
Dec 23, 2011 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
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
Apr 01, 2014 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
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
Sep 08, 2011 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
Ian "Marvin" Graye
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
Jul 27, 2011 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
Arielle Walker
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
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
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
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever been on a first date and suddenly had the sweet realisation that not only are you going to have a great night, but that you're at the beginning of something special, something that could be lasting?

That's how I felt a couple of chapters into Embassytown.

I had no idea what to expect when I began this book, and it blew me away. An embassy district in a vast city on a faraway world. An alien race whose unique language limits their ability to think and entirely prevents them from lyi
Jun 09, 2011 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
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
Hazal Çamur
Oct 23, 2016 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
David Sven
Jun 09, 2013 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
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
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
May 18, 2011 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.
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
Jan 29, 2014 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
Jan 24, 2017 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
Embassytown is the god-drug EzRa and I am a helpless Ariekei in thrall to it. China Mieville is a master dealer of an irresistible drug-cocktail depicting alien languages and consciousnesses, galactic politicking, revolutions, personal involvement and loyalty, and a unique world filled with wonder and mystery.

I was pretty cautious to read Embassytown after loving Perdido Street Station, admiring The Scar from a distance, and not getting past the halfway-point of Iron Council. None of his books a
Paul Sánchez Keighley
Never had international trade looked so much like symbiosis.

Embassytown is a generous serving of yummy brainfood titillating with novum and teeming with grotesque alien life forms. I’m in love.

I mean, you know you’re reading a good book when you’re just over a third of the way in and you’re horrified and appalled and keep thinking this can’t possibly get any worse and it consistently does to the point where it becomes borderline depressing and yet you never lose faith because at all times you f
There were so much about this book that I felt was brilliant, but I'm going to summarize what I got out of the book as: language can be confusing, cryptic, potent and dangerous, while communication can save lives.
I actually felt not quite bright enough at times to grasp everything that was going on in this book, though I really liked the alienness of the Ariekes. At the same time, I also found it hard to really care about anyone in this story (the same thing happened to me when I read "Kraken"
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads-no-more
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
Ever seen a Baroque painting? China Miéville is the Caravaggio of literature. He has his own language, his own aesthetic power that might look too grandiose for some, but also refreshingly profound to others. Embassytown is weird. As weird as his other novels, to be frank. We have a living city, with a bunch of aliens who look like insect-horse-coral-fan things, and with two mouths which simultaneously speak 'Language', a sign-system in which the truth of the world and speech itself are indistin ...more
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
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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
“Word spread because word will spread. Stories and secrets fight, stories win, shed new secrets, which new stories fight, and on.” 860 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.” 76 likes
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