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Embassytown Paperback – 5 Jan 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; Reprints edition (5 Jan. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 033053307X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330533072
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,059 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


PRAISE FOR CHINA MIeVILLE Kraken "The stakes [are] driven high and almost anything can happen. The reader is primed for a memorable payoff, and Mieville more than delivers."--"San Francisco Chronicle" The City & The City "If Philip K. Dick and Raymond Chandler's love child were raised by Franz Kafka, the writing that emerged might resemble . . . "The City & The City.""--"Los Angeles Times " Perdido Street Station "Compulsively readable . . . impossible to expunge from memory."--"The Washington Post Book World" The Scar "A fantastic setting for an unforgettable tale . . . memorable because of Mieville's vivid language [and] rich imagination."--"The Philadelphia Inquirer "Iron Council "A masterwork . . . a story that pops with creativity."--"Wired " Un Lun Dun "Endlessly inventive . . . [a] hybrid of "Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz "and "The Phantom Tollbooth.""--Salonk." -"New Y --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

The enthralling new novel from the award-winning author of Kraken and The City & The City

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Cathy Hill on 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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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By D. Harris TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 May 2011
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Poulter on 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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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Maria on 8 Jun. 2011
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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