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Embassytown [Hardcover]

China Mieville
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)

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Book Description

28 April 2011
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 intelligent life, and Avice has a rare bond with the natives, the enigmatic Hosts - who cannot lie. Only a tiny cadre of unique human Ambassadors can speak Language, and connect the two communities. But an unimaginable new arrival has come to Embassytown. And when this Ambassador speaks, everything changes. Catastrophe looms. Avice knows the only hope is for her to speak directly to the alien Hosts. And that is impossible.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan (28 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230750761
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230750760
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 250,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

China Miéville lives and works in London. He is three-time winner of the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award (Perdido Street Station, Iron Council and The City & The City) and has also won the British Fantasy Award twice (Perdido Street Station and The Scar). The City & The City, an existential thriller, was published in 2009 to dazzling critical acclaim and drew comparison with the works of Kafka and Orwell (The Times) and Philip K. Dick (Guardian).

Product Description

Review

'There are few (releases) that can command the anticipation that the latest Miéville does... Given the huge burst of publicity that the author received with his novel Kraken, we're expecting this to be one of the big hits of the year, certainly on Tor's list and most likely another awards contender, given Miéville's three-times victory at the Arthur C Clarke Award.' SciFiNow < br/>< br/>
'Breathtakingly original, smart and imaginative storytelling.' --Fortean Times

About the Author

China Miéville lives and works in London. He is three-time winner of the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award (Perdido Street Station, Iron Council and The City & The City) and has also won the British Fantasy Award twice (Perdido Street Station and The Scar). The City & The City, an existential thriller, was published in 2009 to dazzling critical acclaim and drew comparison with the works of Kafka and Orwell (The Times) and Philip K. Dick (Guardian). His most recent novel, Kraken, was published in 2010.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learning to lie 20 May 2011
By D. Harris TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
I'd been looking forward to this for a while. It is at first sight something of a departure from Miéville's last two books, in being, perhaps more overtly "science fictiony" that them (which will maybe please some of those who didn't like The City & the City and Kraken?)

Set on a human colony, on an alien planet, right at the end of everywhere, it is narrated by Avice, a cool-headed space sailor who has returned to show her new husband her very odd home world. The aliens whose world Avice was born on are very.. alien, something Miéville conveys well by not describing them. It's not just their physiology that is strange, or their technology of "biorigging", making buildings, machines, everything from live flesh. The oddest thing is their language - or as it is rendered, Language. It would be a shame, and spoil some of the careful revelation that Mieville uses to draw his reader in, to say much about how it is produced or what humans need to do to speak it, but one feature he makes clear from the start is that the natives of this planet - the Host - cannot lie. Their Language does not allow it. So when a cult of would-be liars springs up, it is a matter of concern, and the repercussions of this seem to be shaping up to the climax of the book - until Miéville deftly twists his plot and everything changes. The crisis we thought was coming is suddenly unimportant, and a much worse threat arises.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stick with it, it's worth it. 24 Aug 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I gave up on this twice when I first tried to read it. It's pretty incomprehensible for a while - even more so than the beginning of "The City and The City". But I decided to persevere, having liked previous Mieville novels, and I'm really glad I did. It turns into a really imaginative and original story - there's enough spoilers and descriptions in other reviews. The main thing is that if you're in the early stages of the book and wondering whether to bother forcing your way through - the answer is a most emphatic yes! In the end I absolutely loved it. If only I'd loved it when I first started it, it would have had the full five stars.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Truly alien dystopian tale 12 Oct 2011
Format:Hardcover
In this book a world is created then torn apart. In this respect it reminded me a bit of Perdido Street Station, which I found more unnerving (terrifying, giant moths) and in the end more melancholy. The major difference is that Embassytown is a far more fragile settlement, it's a human settlement that relies entirely on the cooperation and technology of the native alien Hosts (Ariekes). The story is told entirely in first person by Avice Benner Cho, a woman from Embassytown who was one of few inhabitants to leave and go out to other planets. The first part alternates between present events and flashbacks so that Avice and the world she grew up in are introduced to the reader.

Once we are familiar with Embassytown and how it works -its links with the Host aliens, its bubble of breathable air, its upper class of Ambassadors (fully identical, linked, doppels/twins)- a paradigm shift happens and everything goes to pot. The society that was built up faces a major catastrophe and descends into desperation and barbarism and war. The book is about the people who carry on trying to keep things running in the face of likely destruction. It's about how there will still be factions and politicking even in the face of disaster.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
By Maria
Format:Hardcover
This feels like the penultimate draft of what could have been a really good book, but it isn't quite 'there' yet. It's difficult to get into, and feels as if a couple of different attempts at starting the novel have been integrated, not wholly successfully, into what we have here. Is it going to be about immer? Is it going to be about the Festival of Lies? As ever, it's a hugely intelligent and interesting work, I just wish, in fact, that Mieville would write more slowly instead of producing a book a year as he is at the moment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cutting edge science fiction about language... 16 Aug 2012
Format:Paperback
As the title of this novel suggests, it is set in a special place, where different peoples meet. However, it is soon clear that the 'people' who meet are somewhat more different than might be expected. The slew of newly-coined words and phrases immediately signals science fiction. We are ushered into a strange universe. 'Real' space is not real. What is real is an underlying void called the Immer. Locations in 'real' space do not in any way match up to locations in the Immer. The planet Embassytown is on, Arieka, is nowheresville in 'real' space but in the Immer it is on the border between human and alien space.

We learn all this from one Avice, an 'Immerser', a human trained in coping with the stresses of Immer travel. Avice grew up in Embassytown and the whole novel is recounted by her. One of the things we learn about her is a that an unpleasant event happened to her, while she was still young. Arieka is inhabited by the Ariekene. No direct description of them is ever given, because there seem to be no parallels between their forms, and those shared by Terran life. They are called 'Hosts' by the humans. The Hosts are not backward: they have technologies that the Terrans covet. But one thing above all others makes them totally alien. They communicate using something called 'Langauge'. It is not language as we understand it. Hosts have two 'mouths' (or more accurately 'apertures') and both 'speak' together. Host's names are shown in the text as name1/name2 for 'individual' Hosts. This strange biology results in a Language which cannot express anything other than truth. The unpleasant event that Avice was involved in was orchestrated to get Hosts to experience the concept of 'likeness'. They can use it as a simile later, to compare and contrast with other experiences.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The metaphor for enlightenment has never been so well expressed
This book is a literary triumph. It's books like this which make me want to write, to live a better life, to seize my petty visions by the horns and smash them against the walls of... Read more
Published 1 month ago by witness
1.0 out of 5 stars quite a disappoinment
i have to say, that china miéville is one of my beloved author since perdido street station. anyway, since kraken, and embassytown shows it magnified by at least one order... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jan Havlis
5.0 out of 5 stars Me ole China - Cut and page turner
This is a short review. I see reviews stating disappointment with the Kraken, Embassytown and the like. My favourite author is Philip K Dick. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Gubbletrouble
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant imaginative writing
I think this is Mieville's best book yet! from a simple concept he weaves an amazing story: a great read.
Published 8 months ago by Prof L. S. Smith
1.0 out of 5 stars Bland
I read it from beginning to end, I just couldn't retain or follow the story, it was just uninteresting with no memorable parts to it.
Published 8 months ago by Arazon
4.0 out of 5 stars full of new and original ideas
This book was quite hard to read but ultimately rewarding. There are plenty of new and original ideas which is very refreshing.
Published 8 months ago by AndyW
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating with a rewarding conclusion.
Stick with it, the second half of the book is superb and makes up for the sluggish pace of the first. Read more
Published 9 months ago by George A
5.0 out of 5 stars Mieville Magic
Another amazing work from one the very best writers about. Beautiful and horrific weird spaces and places occupied by compellingly original and fascinating characters - not to... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mr. J. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Dense, Complex and Lovely
I love China Mieville's work for the complexity of his ideas and the depth and elaborateness of his world-building, and Embassytown certainly doesn't disappoint. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Mr. M. Brooker D'israeli
5.0 out of 5 stars Very rewarding
I found this book awesome. I read it, then read it again in chronological order, then read it again in the written order. Read more
Published 11 months ago by lucy lucy
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