Book - 2011
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In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak. Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist, has returned to Embassytown after years of deep-space adventure. She cannot speak the Ariekei tongue, but she is an indelible part of it, having long ago been made a figure of speech, a living simile in their language. When distant political machinations deliver a new ambassador to Arieka, the fragile equilibrium between humans and aliens is violently upset. Catastrophe looms, and Avice is torn between competing loyalties: to a husband she no longer loves, to a system she no longer trusts, and to her place in a language she cannot speak--but which speaks through her, whether she likes it or not.

Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, c2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780345524508
Branch Call Number: MIEV
Characteristics: 345 p. ; 25 cm


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TRoud Jul 03, 2018

Miéville's foray into science fiction contains all those elements fans will enjoy. A fragile social cohesion, threatened by small changes triggering much larger consequences. The alien creatures appear like a laboratory experiment grafting Jonathan's Swifts Houyhnhnms with lovecraftian horrors: with all the organic detritus and unknowable weirdness one expects. Miéville plays a lot with language in this book, and any amateur or trained philologist will have a lot of fun reading. As is the case with Miéville's fiction, Embassytown is peppered with social theory, politics, philosophy, ethics, and criticism while still maintaining that all important aspect of being a very enjoyable read. The story does not suffer from Miéville's intellectual indulgences, but is made vibrant. I hope he will return to the universe of Embassytown in the future. If you enjoy Iain M. Banks and Ursula Le Guin's sci-fi more than books from the steampunk or fantasy genre, this is the perfect first novel from Miéville's oeuvre.

SFPL_danielay Jun 18, 2018

A musing about how language influences thought in the guise of a sci-fi novel. Highly recommended!

May 22, 2018

This book was unlike anything else I've ever read. While it wouldn't make a list of my favourite books (because it didn't grip me emotionally), it was so incredibly interesting and different that I have to give it five stars. The Hosts were like no other creatures I've read about, and their relationship with language was fascinating.

Feb 09, 2017

Well-paced, hugely entertaining book exploring ideas that are not only creative but scientifically thought-provoking. Pushes the boundaries on every page. Mieville's expansive vocabulary has me looking up words I think are made up only to find they exist! I love this author. If you can make it past his description of space travel... keep going, you'll be rewarded for it!

VaughanPLKasey Nov 15, 2016

Though Mieville is best known for his world-building in the Bas-Lag/New Crobuzon books, Embassytown in really his most impressive work yet as far as I'm concerned.

Mieville plays with the ideas of language, metaphor, and truth in this one, and it is very worth a read.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 04, 2016

Impressive. Miéville is quite the world builder. Wonderful characterization, insight, and breathtaking scenery. Those looking for something different in a book will likely appreciate Miéville.

Jan 05, 2016

A book about language, (mis)communication, diplomacy, and truth, it plunges you into the vernacular of a human and alien inhabited universe far in the future, forcing you to learn "the language" with little explanation or guidance. I think this was deliberate as it forces the reader, an "alien" in the culture, to learn by immersion. The author has created an extraordinary world where a tenuous relationship between species with different concepts of language somehow manage to communicate in a rudimentary fashion through altered "diplomats". But the lack of true understanding causes the communication to break down with disastrous results. This was a fascinating book for its sheer creativity and its exploration of what it means to communicate.

Jul 28, 2015

A dystopian adventure for adults! This novel explores the foundations and limits of language in a science fiction context. Set in a world is filled with compelling characters and challenges.

Jan 20, 2015

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Kitsilano Branch Library

Dec 05, 2014

While I was not as intrigued by the plot or characters of this novel as I would've liked, the way in which Mieville explored the concepts of language and truth through it was absolutely fascinating, and it was well worth the read for that alone.

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Jul 18, 2013

Its locomotion was between a scamper and a convulsion.

Jul 18, 2013

The sun still rose, and the shops sold things, and people went to work. It was a slow catastrophe.

Jul 18, 2013

it was impossible to concentrate as we approached the forest. Some of the trees moved weakly out of our way, hauled by roots, but most were too slow. I braced. The carriage’s jutting legs scythed through rope trunks. In our passing trees soared straight up, dangling their broken tethers. We left a line of them accelerating skyward as we cut into the woodland.

Jul 18, 2013

We’re insane, to them: we tell the truth with lies.

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