Sunday, May 1, 2011
Embassytown by China Miéville
Miéville’s book The City and the City was my favorite book of 2010. One of the things that I loved most about it was that even when I was confused, I was still enjoying myself. The same is true for his latest book, Embassytown. This story takes place on a far outpost of the human diaspora (humans who left Earth to colonize other planets so long ago that they don’t even know where Earth is anymore). The indigenous creatures of this planet, the Ariekei, speak a unique language that does not allow them to lie, but they’re trying to learn. Through that (and so much more that I can’t give away) their language becomes something other than what they've known before, something other than what they've based their society on, and the repercussions are bigger than anyone could have guessed.
Miéville describes himself as an author of “weird fiction” and I think that’s perfect. Even though this particular books fits into a classic other-planet, alien-human-relations kind of Science Fiction category, I think it will appeal to readers who don’t usually like that sort of thing. It’s really about language and truth, maybe even love, and it’s about floaking. It’s perfect for someone in the mood for a unique, challenging, gripping story.