Embassytown

Discussion in 'China Mieville' started by J-WO, Jan 7, 2011.

  1.  
    J-WO

    J-WO Pretentious Avatar Alert.

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    Looks like Mieville's gone and done a Space Opera.

    I believe the word is Squeeee!
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    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

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    It will be interesting to see how China handles this particular sub genre.
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    digs

    digs Thicker than water

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    Awesome! I like that he keeps trying new things.
  4.  
    J-WO

    J-WO Pretentious Avatar Alert.

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    I hope it brings space opera to the attention of the more 'highbrow' section of his following.
  5.  
    Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

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    Well based on my recent completion of my first Mieville book and the fact that I loved it and I love SF, I think I shall certainly be taking a look at this one!
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    gully_foyle

    gully_foyle Here kitty kitty kitty!

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    Well, it's been released, apparently, but I haven't seen it anywhere in Aus (well, not in the few bookshops I've been haunting in Canberra and Brisbane). Maybe I'll find a copy in the U.S. Anyone read it? Is it as good as the hyperbole?
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    Ian Whates

    Ian Whates Author and Editor

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    I was at the book's launch, last week, where Embassytown was introduced by the publishers as 'China's first SF book,' which amused me considerably given how many times China has won the Arthur C Clarke Award (awarded to the best SF book published in the UK in a particular year).

    Had a chat with China and he admitted that Ian Watson's The Embedding was a big influence on some aspects of the book. Needless to say this made Ian's night (he was also attending).

    I'm greatly looking forward to reading this one.
  8.  
    GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

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    Several copies, paperback and hardback that I have seen floating around Melbourne. I got my copy last weekend but yet to read it...:)
  9.  
    gully_foyle

    gully_foyle Here kitty kitty kitty!

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    So I found it, and I bought it, and I read it, and I thought it was pretty good actually. Much better than Kraken, but not as good as City and the City. I suspect he does one good book, one contractual obligation, etc.

    Anyway, I'm glad he had a go at SF. At times it was very Reynolds as he set up his new universe, then it sort of went a bit Banks with all the intrigues going on, but it was 100% Mieville when it came to the chase and the resolution (and the unnecessarily long tying up of loose ends).

    I would recommend all chronites who at least have a bit of a thing for China give this one a go.
  10.  
    witchfynder

    witchfynder New Member

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    Darn.
    Should have bought Embassytown. Kraken is becoming a slog.:(
  11.  
    Magnus85

    Magnus85 Writer

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    Just finished Embassytown.

    I've just read his The City & The City and Kraken before, and on this his inventiveness and original flavour blooms maybe even more. A lot more "political depth" to this one than his crazy row Kraken, so it's more akin to The City & The City. Despite the extremely slow opening - didn't get hooked until page 150, really - it's a good book with a nice touch on intergalactic politics and the "clash" of man and aliens and communication. And drugs.

    Not as good as TC&TC, and not as fun as Kraken, but somewhere between those two. The first half was too slow for me though, and the protagonist is quite boring and blank. But once the concept hooked me midway, I was immersed. Ha!
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    Ursa major

    Ursa major Bearly Believable Staff Member

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    I understand that Mr Miéville will be one of the guests on Radio Four's Start the Week programme next Monday (the 4th of July): 45 minutes of live discussion after the 0900 news, an 30-minute, edited version of which is broadcast at 21:30.

    Blurb:
  13.  
    Stephen Palmer

    Stephen Palmer author of novels

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    I thought the protagonist of Kraken was boring and blank too. I hope this style of characterisation isn't going to continue...
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    Magnus85

    Magnus85 Writer

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    For me, there were more interesting characters than the protagonist in both Kraken and Embassytown. It might've been deliberate by China, but Avice (the I-person) in Embassytown seems to have no emotional diversity or energy whatsoever. I still felt the impact of the situations throughout the book, though, but that wasn't through the protagonist, unfortunately. If she'd been more attached emotionally to the story, then I would as well, I reckon, and then we would be talking about an absolutely brilliant book...
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    Patrick Mahon

    Patrick Mahon Would-be author

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    I must admit that I found Embassytown pretty hard to get into initially, for exactly the reasons that others have raised. However, having (finally) finished it, I thought it was interesting and (mostly) enjoyable. Not as much fun as Kraken, and not as mind-bending as The City and the City, but a good read nonetheless.
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    Anthony G Williams

    Anthony G Williams Greybeard

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    This my take on it, from my SFF blog. I pretty much agree with the comments so far!

    I am slowly working my way through Miéville's canon, this being the fourth I have started (although only the third I have finished - see my review of The City and the City). His stories are remarkably varied and he seems able to ignore the supposed rule that no SFF book stands a chance of being published unless it is part of a series which will hook the readers and guarantee continuing demand. Having said that, his tales (the ones I've read so far, anyway) do have one thing in common: the most important feature of them is not one of the characters, but a city. And not just any ordinary city, but one which is fantastical in some way, such as the baroque fantasy settlements in Un Lun Dun and Perdido Street Station or the bizarrely divided one in The City and the City.

    Embassytown is no different, the city of this name being the only human settlement on Arieka, a planet populated by enigmatic aliens who have permitted Embassytown's establishment within their own city. The Aliens, known as Hosts, are masters of biotech and everything they make and use is alive, including their buildings. Arieka's atmosphere is poisonous to humans but the Hosts have engineered living atmosphere machines called aeoli, which maintain a blanket of breathable air over Embassytown.

    Dealing with the Hosts is very difficult because of their unique Language, which they are born already able to speak. They have two voices which they combine when speaking, and are unable to understand any speech which is not made in the same way. The only humans who can communicate with them are pairs of identical clones, each pair being regarded as one Ambassador, who are trained to think and speak together.

    Avice Benner Cho is a native of Embassytown and one of the few who had been given permission to leave - in her case to become an Immerser, a spaceship pilot. Now she has returned, in time to witness a remarkable event; the arrival of a new and very different Ambassador who has a dramatic effect on the Hosts. The story follows Cho's attempts to understand what is going on and prevent disaster, in the face of opposition from both the human and Host populations.

    The story gets off to a slow start and it took me a few days to get into, but the pace gradually accelerates and I read the last half in one sitting. The setting and the plot are both novel and intriguing, as is usually the case with Miéville. The aliens are very definitely alien in both appearance and behaviour, although I never did form a clear mental picture of exactly what they looked like. On the downside, none of the human characters made a great impression on me. Despite this, the book is well worth the read, although it has failed to displace The City and the City as, by far, my favourite by this author.
  17.  
    Stephen Palmer

    Stephen Palmer author of novels

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    I bought this in Cambridge a couple of weeks ago, and hope to read it soon. Sounds excellent, though it's Railsea I'm really looking forward to.
  18.  
    kopfarm

    kopfarm New Member

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    Possibly the best sci fi I have ever read, I loved the way Meiville created an alien race that were so 'alien' to us rather than another anthropomorphised creature that is so common.
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    Ice fyre

    Ice fyre Dark Lord

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    Am About 3/4 of the way through this, so far I am enjoying it. I agree its flippin hard going! The idea is interesting and very original. It I feel is better than Kraken, which I felt ....lacked something ...not sure what ..just didnt really like it that much.

    I find it interesting that he writes about cities a lot. All his cities seem to be almost livng entities. This city is more alive than most, but it is still a city state, again the theme of isolation in a crowd seems to be coming to the fore.
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    Barracooda

    Barracooda New Member

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    I did enjoy Embassytown. I think he did a convincing space opera.

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