Piers Hollott's Reviews > Embassytown

Embassytown by China Miéville
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's review
Jan 10, 2012

it was amazing

"Embassytown is a fully achieved work of art." High praise from Ursula LeGuin (in her Guardian review), one of the writers who have really driven the potential for Science Fiction as artform. Best book I have read so far this year, for what that's worth, Embassytown is a maverick read, setting out a subtle but profound agenda, and then carrying it through to a stunning conclusion, much like Suzette Haden-Elgin's Native Tongue or Anthony Burgess's Clockwork Orange. If you have read it already, read the first few chapters again - it's amazing the detail employed to carefully inch the story forward, play it backward, then when all the pieces are in place, unleash it.

Miéville is known for his disapproval of the high fantasy genre, and this is the complete opposite of that, dealing with language not as a way of identifying class and race, but undermining this notion, as in the works of Burgess, Burroughs or Lessing, demonstrating how language creates class, language creates race, language creates culture, and then, going on to demonstrate, quite graphically, how language is also, to quote Burroughs, "a virus sent from space" - a destructive addiction.

China Miéville has always been a deep and deeply intelligent writer. Embassytown shows that he is, simply, a great writer who should not be ignored.
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