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The Embedding

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  543 ratings  ·  52 reviews
The Embedding opens in a research institute where Chris Sole is teaching a strange form of language whose grammar can be self-embedded by computers to create an artificially complex means of communication that opens up the vast potential of the human mind.
Paperback, 218 pages
Published January 1st 1990 by Carroll & Graf Publishers (first published 1973)
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3.48  · 
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 ·  543 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Not really science-fiction, more linguistics-fiction - if you're a linguist who is the least bit interested in SF, this is a must, whether or not it happens to make sense. Super-intelligent aliens arrive on Earth in a giant spaceship. Their mission is find visitors from another dimension ("The Change Speakers"), who visited them long ago and then suddenly disappeared. They have some deep mystical significance for the aliens, which is never properly explained.

Somehow, the search for the Change S
Sep 15, 2008 marked it as didnt-finish  ·  review of another edition
I got this because it sounded like it had interesting ideas about language, but I think I didn't finish it because it seemed really dated.
As a feminist, it's kind of hard to read older SF sometimes. It was what it was, we stand on the shoulders of giants and all that, but sometimes I just can't.
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
Concept was cool but just found it went nowhere. Probably would have worked better as a short story
I wanted to like this a lot more than I did. I picked it up looking for linguistic scifi not based on out of date science (I'm looking at you Sapir-Worf). And this fulfilled that, but I need really got into the plot. I thought it might conclude well, but it felt too open ended, too unsatisfying--perhaps it was trying really hard to be 'realistic'?) There were lots of plot elements that I never felt the author offered a reasonable explanation for (say, flooding Brazil).
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: top-200-scifi
The first third of the book is horrible - lacking in context and shifting abruptly. Not till the aliens show up that the story has any meaning. The ending (if you call it an ending) finishes with a fizzle - doesn't make any sense to why things are happening. Story has many people on weird drugs - the children, the Amazon Indians. Would have been better as a short story.
Sep 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: have, sci-fi
I don't think I am smart enough to really understand or appreciate this book? I think it probably belongs in the 4 stars category (good and Good) but my lack of ability to make the leap between the said and the unsaid probably rendered it less comprehensible than it ought to have done.
Mark Harding
Jul 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steve Joyce
Mar 15, 2015 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 27, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well...I just read it...and my initial review is thus: I think that it started out great, but it went in too many directions at once and never really developed ay of them all that well. Im left assuming a lot of things, filling in the gaps, and things were sort of rushed at the end. I wanted there to be more about language; examples, more explanations, outcomes, etc. I also think that the characters could have been drawn better as well; I never really got to know any of them. That all said, it k ...more
Sep 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book had some interesting moments, but I think Watson's arrangement of the story ruined it in the long run. The first half of the book is a bunch of linguistic're forced to read ahead without any hints as to what the true story is. Then there's an abrupt transition, followed by an OK ending. Too many weird political things were going on, too. Didn't work for me.
Rhomboid Goatcabin
Aug 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
This novel makes me regret not having read much SciFi in the last couple years. A suspenseful yet subtle and cerebral "hard SciFi" exploring the nature of human language and cognition, yet never losing its forward drive. Recommended - especially to those interested in language!
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
It was in Dutch translation. One of the most exciting books I read but that's often the case with translations.
Sean Randall
Jun 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
I don’t feel as if I read this carefully enough to properly enjoy it, but the ending was far too up in the air to impress. The tone of the whole thing seems to be a little beyond my grasp.
Eddie Watkins
May 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
The only science fiction book I know that references Raymond Roussel.
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
A real gem from the 70s. It's a bit cerebral in the beginning but press on.
The style reminded me of Philip K. Dick.
With elements of H. P. Lovecraft's The Whisperer in Darkness.
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
Starts off boring, goes a bit insane in the middle, then ends abruptly with no real pay-off.
Jer Hogan
Sep 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Good Book. Interesting scientific ideas. Plausible characters.
Alexandre Rotger Müller
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Story wise, this is a three, maybe three and a half star book. It's good idea, well researched, not perfectly executed. But there were many problems with the book that made me need to mark it down. First of, there is the rampant racism. I'm not talking about say Indian instead of Native American, that can be excused as a product of its time. I more mean the fact that the descriptions of the non-white characters are pretty hateful most of the time. Then there's the fact that one of the main chara ...more
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really interesting, high concept sci-fi novel which builds and builds from a slightly uninspiring start and then surprises you with an ending that you didn't expect or hope for.

There are no spoilers here. It's worth a read, sure but..... remember it was published in the 70s and feels a little dated now. It's also definitely British sci-fi and less upbeat than you might hope and expect. A good read, though and some really unusual ideas. I'm glad I read it but am a bit disappointed by th
Costin Manda
Feb 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
I've first started reading this book with aprehension, it seemed to involve weird and useless experiments, a heavy language or writing style, socialist concepts and a lot of bull. After a while, however, it started to become interesting. The concepts were refined, the gray areas explained, aliens appeared... it seemed to gather pace. After reading 90% of it I was looking forward for the grand finale. Which was nothing but a big and sloppy hiss.

The whole idea of the book revolves around the natur
Edward Davies
This was a fun story, though it takes a little while to really get going. I liked the comparison between how the people involved were treated, and how they tried to balance the price of knowledge against the price of a life. Watson makes this satire on the human condition funny and thought provoking, but I would have liked it to be a little more consistent.
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Built up on linguistic science and discoveries, this book caught my interest as a language enthusiast. The different story lines entwine very well towards the end of the book. The ending itself, however, was rather abrupt and, in a way, disappointing. That disappointment is however less of the author than of the human race as it is depicted rather believably in this book...
Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Well, I had no expectations before I start reading "the embedding", but I've read only one third part of this book. Because, you know, style of narration, the plot (linguistic sci-fi) , etc...well, I stay indifferent to it.
Feb 04, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, that was an utter shite.

(I have some longer review somewhere but this is enough for now)
Linus Johansson
It's possible this went over my head.
Joe Milazzo
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
Rare is the sci-fi novel that relies on Raymond Roussel for its central conceit, granted. But Watson's storytelling is marred by too many potboiler tics to make this a book as easy to recommend as its ideas might otherwise merit.
Joe Cooper
Sep 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
A bit mental. I enjoyed it but it was a bit strange and some plot points were very weird. Fun overall.One for language geeks too.
Aug 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: adult-literature
There were seeds of a half-dozen really good storylines, but (IMO) none were adequately explored.
Oct 07, 2009 rated it did not like it
What retarded drivel. Pathetic dialogue. What the fuck.
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Goodreads Librari...: Please, combine this books 3 10 May 13, 2019 07:13AM  

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