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2012 Hugo Awards > Embassytown (2012 Nominee)

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message 1: by Kristin (new)

Kristin | 67 comments This is one of the 2012 Hugo Nominees in the Novel category. I think we touched on this book in our Nominee thread, but I'll start a longer discussion here.

I thought this was a blending of the strange worlds Mieville created with The Scar, Perdido St. Station and Iron Horse with his last book The City and The City ("It's not a secret, it's not a thought." pg 168. Echoing the concept of 'unseeing' for those of you who had a chance to read City/City).

Ultimately, I found Embassytown absolutely facinating. I know others have bounced off it it.

I thought this was a book about Language and understading Language. Yes, with a capitol letter. A Language that can only be heard if something sentinent speaks it, to be repeated through mass media has no meaning or context and is a garble of noise. A society that cannot lie, but understands the meaning of lies. A Language that when spoken by the right humans, is a drug more addictive than any thing that can be taken physcally. And it's a story about ignorance and just how stupid people can be (again).

As with City/City, I thought the use of dual towns to be an interesting way to illustrate similarities and differences.

I hit a couple of minor issues: with all the world building that Mieville does - and in this book he moves into the larger universe with a wonderful set of aliens and technology or bio-ology - a couple of archaic and mundane items jumped out at me: a formal event with all the glam that Mievlle brings to his societies and he had a main character of the moment in a tux with a white rose. That kinda threw me.

And we have a peoples far far removed from Terra Firma (they don't even know where Earth is anymore) and yet they were using "Christ!" and "Jesus!" as swear words. Would religion and swearing as we know it today transend Earth into the far future? Given the premise of the book - language - I found this to be odd, almost anachronistic given the setting.

Let's discuss! :)


message 2: by glitrbug (new)

glitrbug I was interested to read someone's take on the book. I've been struggling with it. It took me days to reach the 30% point as I had no desire to read further. It just seems like an exercise in designing new lifeforms with no story to speak of. Maybe I will get back to it after I read the other stories.


message 3: by Gail (new)

Gail | 16 comments I absolutely loathed this book. The narrator, Avice, has a weirdly distant voice, and the first third or half the book is her just wandering around telling you stuff she remembers, and about how her marriage is falling apart, and how she's hanging out with people she doesn't even like and doesn't really know why. I kept waiting for Mieville to get to a plot, and it took way too long to deliver. And I did not like or understand Avice enough to be able to trust her judgment. How could I stand to spend so much time in her presence? (answer: I couldn't stand spending that much time in her presence) Well, I got it from Librarything Early Reviewers so I had to finish the book, but it was one of the two most singularly unpleasant and time-wasting books I read last year (the other was Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor).


message 4: by Kristin (new)

Kristin | 67 comments This is definitely a love it/hate it book.

I felt that Avice was the perfect mouthpiece for the story. She wasn't perfect. She had a childhood connection with the Hosts in that she was a simile, she left and came back giving her a unique insider/outsider view. I thought that through her, Mieville was able to show just how much language shapes a culture, how much language can change, and how much language can change a person/culture.


message 5: by Ginny (new)

Ginny (gawm) | 12 comments glitrbug wrote: "I was interested to read someone's take on the book. I've been struggling with it. It took me days to reach the 30% point as I had no desire to read further. It just seems like an exercise in desig..."

I had the exact same problem but found that almost immediately after the 30% point things took off and the story became a lot more compelling.


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