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Embassytown by China Mieville

Embassytown (original 2011; edition 2011)

by China Mieville

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,0231593,310 (3.89)282
Authors:China Mieville
Info:Del Rey (2011), Hardcover, 368 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Embassytown by China Miéville (2011)

  1. 30
    Foreigner by C. J. Cherryh (PhoenixFalls)
    PhoenixFalls: Cherryh excels in writing really alien aliens and always focuses on the nuances of languages.
  2. 30
    Anathem by Neal Stephenson (bertilak)
    bertilak: Miéville has written a philosophical science fiction novel that rocks and is not bloated: Stephenson please take note.
  3. 30
    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell (ansate)
  4. 52
    The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (BeckyJG)
  5. 20
    Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany (kevinashley)
    kevinashley: Both these books take the relationship between language and thought as central themes. They explore it in different ways but with a similar thoroughness; both really explore just how 'other' alien can be.
  6. 64
    Hyperion by Dan Simmons (BeckyJG)
  7. 10
    The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber (KatyBee)
  8. 11
    The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (santhony)
    santhony: Science fiction as seen through the prism of anthropology and sociology.
  9. 00
    The Dosadi Experiment by Frank Herbert (santhony)
    santhony: Philosophical Science Fiction

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» See also 282 mentions

English (160)  German (1)  All languages (161)
Showing 1-5 of 160 (next | show all)
the ideas were better than the plot could support ( )
  xicohtli | Jul 20, 2016 |
As always with this favorite author, there was a lot in this book that it's going to take me awhile to get my head around. It's about language, mainly, but with a compelling story and characters as well. Not as gut-difficult as the New Crobuzon stories (thank goodness). A keeper and maybe a re-reader. ( )
  JudyGibson | Jul 17, 2016 |
Amazing world-building and examination of the importance of language. ( )
  kale.dyer | Jun 24, 2016 |
The author calls his stuff, weird fiction. I agree. This is a story of alien contact and war. Avice Benner Cho, is the main character. She is a human colonist on the a distant planet of the Ariekei who has just returned from the "Out". The Ariekei, referred to as Hosts because the humans can only live there because of the good graces of the Host. The Host do not communicate like humans, in fact, they can't communicate with humans. A genetically engineered doppel called Ambassadors are who communicate with Ariekei. Avice does not speak Ariekei but she has been a a simile in their language since her childhood. The rest of the story involves politics and war. Ez/Ra comes to the planet but he is not like any previous Ambassadors and things go terribly wrong. The humans are trapped with no way of getting off the planet and it is the end of the world for all. Avice is an Immerser. A person who moves through the distances by sailing through the "Immer" a universe with differing concepts of time and space.

Miéville had the idea for the Ariekei at age 11. He published this in 2011. It is a difficult world to get your mind around. Lots of made up words, at least I am pretty sure they are made up, made of biotech things and the whole planet sounds rather ugly and gross. I felt like the sentence structure was awkward and way to many commas. The work is about aliens but more so about about language. ( )
  Kristelh | Jun 18, 2016 |
wow... I've only given this 4 stars as I have just this minute finished reading it and need to sort my thoughts out... I still don't really understand the difference between Language and language and this is vital to understanding the plot... definitely one to reread ;)

Re-read July 2014. It's a 4.5 star read for me. I've read about the analogies to the Opium war, and found this added to my enjoyment of the book. Definitely a wow factor book for the sheer inventiveness and the detailed sociological picture of a society in massive change... ( )
  jkdavies | Jun 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 160 (next | show all)
Readers who want to delve no further than turning the pages will come away satisfied with "Embassytown," because Mieville's fertile imagination has created a fascinating alien species to go along with plenty of familiar human drama.
It is a miracle of a novel, one where Big Ideas cohabitate with Monsters, and neither is lessened by what academic propriety insists must be capital letters.
Miéville has a muscular intellect, successfully building a science fictional world around semiotics. For some readers, that will be enough.
I don’t hold this will to abstraction against him. Genre writers, and for that matter writers of the well-wrought middlebrow novel, mostly tell the usual stories in the usual way: narrative and character are advanced through conventional action. Miéville is up to something else.
In this sense, Embassytown plays out as a novel of metropolitan-colonial conflict, holding out the hope that language might not serve only as a tool of oppression, but be reclaimed as the instrument that makes resistance possible.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Miéville, Chinaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Uchida, MasayukiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"The word must communicate something (other than itself)."
Walter Benjamin, "On Language as such and on the Language of Man"
To Jesse
First words
The children of the embassy all saw the boat land.
"I don't want to be a simile anymore," I said. "I want to be a metaphor."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
On a distant planet in the far future, humans and an alien race coexist in a nonviolent but nonetheless uncomfortable arrangement. In general, they don't hurt one another, but they're not necessarily happy to share the city together. It is a marriage of convenience, arranged for economic reasons. But when a new group of humans arrives on the planet, one current citizen—a young woman—begins to realize that things are about to change for the worse.
Haiku summary
The Hosts - who are they?
Avise the simile, all
Ends in social change.

No descriptions found.

(see all 2 descriptions)

Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist on a distant planet populated by the Ariekei, sentient beings famed for their unique language, returns to Embassytown after many years of deep space exploration to find she has become a living simile in the Ariekei language even though she cannot speak it, and she is torn by competing loyalties when hostilities erupt between humans and aliens.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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