Embassytown PDF ↠ Hardcover

Embassytown ❰Download❯ ➵ Embassytown Author China Miéville – Thomashillier.co.uk 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 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 speakAvice 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 languageWhen 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 yet speaks through her.


10 thoughts on “Embassytown

  1. Jeffrey Keeten Jeffrey Keeten says:

    Now the Ariekei were learning to speak, and to think, and it hurt I m addicted to language we all are While reading this book, I thought about language I haven t really thought about it from the standpoint of it not existing or that it is something to be discovered, like traces of gold in a California riverbed I don t remember a time when I didn t have language The ability to express myself has served me well Not that I haven t said the wrong thing or said the right thing at the wrong t Now the Ariekei were learning to speak, and to think, and it hurt I m addicted to language we all are While reading this book, I thought about language I haven t really thought about it from the standpoint of it not existing or that it is something to be discovered, like traces of gold in a California riverbed I don t remember a time when I didn t have language The ability to express myself has served me well Not that I haven t said the wrong thing or said the right thing at the wrong time, but I usually have the ability to explain further and give what I say deeper meaning I can change minds and can have my mind changed by exchanging words Language is the foundation of who we are Few people can speak the language of the Hosts referred to only as Language , as it requires the orator to speak two words at once those humans Terre who can are genetically engineered twins known as Ambassadors, bred solely for this purpose The Ambassadors speak with two mouths and one mind and as such can be understood by the Ariekei who do not recognise any other form of communication Wikipedia gave me some help sorting out the exact nature of how the Ariekei communicated The humans refer to them as The Hosts, which is exactly what they are They allow the humans to build a city named Embassytown I can remember the first time I went overseas and spent nine days in Italy I didn t know the language but always managed to find Italian people who spoke enough English for us to communicate with each other After having nine days of barely speaking any English, certainly a lot less than what I was used to, my arrival at San Francisco Airport was, for lack of a better term, a system overload My mind was so starved for the English language that all the filters or barriers that I normally have for sorting language were gone My brain was attempting to listen to and process every ongoing English conversation that was within my range of hearing My catthe weather wasI bought these new shoesDo you like this coat Will they serve us a meal What did he mean by that I was catching just pieces, most of them jumbled together as my mind was trying to sort each conversation, but without success My cat was new shoes like this mean.It was like touching the edges of insanity The Ambassadors who are sent to interact with The Hosts are paired They have two minds that make one voice They are identical and kept that way When one gets a scar that can t be healed, the other is given an identical scar They are rarely apart, and when circumstances do part them, they are lost in much the same way I d feel if my left arm and leg just detached from my body and walked into the next room Very interesting, I would think to myself, and then I would try to finish typing this review with one hand Our heroine is Avice Benner Cho, who is an immerser who has just returned to Embassytown after years of deep space exploration She cannot speak to the Ariekei, but she has become a part of their language They call herThere was a girl who was hurt in darkness and ate what was given herAs things becomeunstable between The Host and the colonists, Avice wants to evolve in their language I don t want to be a simile any, I said I want to be a metaphor The interesting thing about Avice is that she really isn t a hero She islike a professional traveller who sits in the hip cafes, eats the unusual food, sees the sights, goes to parties, and occasionally has a brief sexual encounter with someone interesting She has been married several times Sometimes to women, sometimes to men In Embassytown, she has sex with ambassadors which since each one is actually plural means she is a very busy girl during those encounters Her experiences while travelling have evolved her thinking about what is strange One of her best friends is a digital presence that can move from one droid to another Like us all, she does struggle with seeing things that go beyond just exotic, those things that go beyond a frame of reference of what we know For us to be comfortable, new things have to have something about them that allows us to have at least a handle of understandingOnce I heard a theory It was an attempt to make sense of the fact that no matter how travelled people are, no matter how cosmopolitan, how biotically miscegenated their homes, they can t be insouciant at the first sight of an exot slang for exotic race The theory is that we re hardwired with the Terre Biome, that every glimpse of anything not descended from that original backwater home, our bodies know we should not ever see The world that China Mieville creates in this book is in some ways vague, certainly unsettling The world building takes a backseat to exploring the concept of languages and their value Though he does give us glimpses of what this world looks likeWhen they regrew the city the Ariekei changed it In this rebooted version the houses segmented into smaller dwellings and were interspersed with pillars like sweating trees Of course there were still towers, still factories and hangars for the nurturing of young and of biorigging But the housescape we overlooked took on ahiggledy piggledy aspect The streets seemed steeper than they had been, andvarious the chitin gables, the conquistador helmet curves newly intricate As the Ariekei learn language from the Ambassadors, things take a sinister turn as segments of The Host population begin to become junkies Ambassadors are orators, and those to whom their oration happens are oratees Oratees are addicts Strung out on an Ambassador s Language Where my addiction to language happened over a long arc of time, comparable to beginning with marijuana to evolving to cocaine to finally needing heroin, The Host s addiction begins with heroin and wants the next better thing than heroin NOW Things get scaryWe knew the Ariekei would breach our defences They entered the houses that edged our zone, found their ways to rear and side doors, large windows, to holes Some came out of the front doors into our streets and tore apart what they found Those with remnants of memory tried to get to the Embassy They came at night They were like monsters in the dark, like figures from children s booksA war over a need for language I don t know how else to say thisthe book is brilliant, simply brilliant I ve been a long time fan of China Mieville and will eventually read everything he has ever written The concepts he explores in this book had me thinking about my own relationship with language, with learning, with my addiction to hearing and being heard, to writing my thoughts and to reading what others have written I once knew a woman in Phoenix whose grandfather walked out to get the morning paper, poured some coffee, and flipped the paper open, like he does every morning, to start reading He couldn t read He d had a small targeted stroke during the night that erased his ability to read The thought still sends a shiver down my back to think that I could lose the ability to read or the ability to speak or the ability to hear I m a junkie for language.You will have to have patience with this book Mieville circles the plane over Embassytown and just drops his readers into the city Shortly after stowing your parachute, you are going to feel out of kelter, exposed, behind a step, and will begin to feel nervous that you won t catch up You will With every chapter, you will begin to knowpieces of the puzzle until you are eventually able to assemble a shimmering vision of this city, these people, and the situation which has lit the fuse to a powderkeg If you wish to seeof my most recent book and movie reviews, visithttp www.jeffreykeeten.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at


  2. Nataliya Nataliya says:

    Sometimes words can shatter worlds Especially when they are like thisI don t want to be a simile any, I said I want to be a metaphor. This book lived up to all my expectations No, it did not quite knock The Scar off its Mi villish pedestal but it came pretty damn close to it It is by far my favorite Mieville book I reread it and listened to ittimes than I can remember I loved it so much, and yet when a colleague politely asked what it was aboutwhen I told him Sometimes words can shatter worlds Especially when they are like thisI don t want to be a simile any, I said I want to be a metaphor. This book lived up to all my expectations No, it did not quite knock The Scar off its Mi villish pedestal but it came pretty damn close to it It is by far my favorite Mieville book I reread it and listened to ittimes than I can remember I loved it so much, and yet when a colleague politely asked what it was aboutwhen I told him I stayed up half the night before taking call to read itI could not figure out how to describe it in a few words So I ll remedy it now.What IS this book about It s about language, of course, or rather Language It s about the inevitable and destructive culture clashes It s about the painful casualty filled struggle between the New and the Old It s about the allures and the dangers of power It s about inability to escape politics It s about love and friendship and betrayal It s about a surreal fantastical world in the best sci fi traditions It s about the easiness with which even the formidable things can get destroyed by slightest mistakes mistakes that can destroy worlds And all of this is done with the usual Mi ville flair and love for weirdness albeit Mi ville slightly toned down as compared to his Bas Lag works Language, for the Ariekei, was truth without it, what were they An unsociety of psychopaths. How about I try to give you a glimpse of the plot It s Mi ville s forage into the sci fi territory Set on a far away planet in a galaxy far far away , it s a story narrated by Avice Benner Chothe ABC of this language centered book , a native of Embassytown, a human outpost on a planet inhabited by the Ariekei The Hosts , the alien race whose lives are ruled by the Language which IS the reality and the thought rather than merely a way of expressing the above There are no lies, they are not possible, they are inconceivable Sorry, I couldn t resist I differ with myself then agree, like the rock that was broken and cemented together I change my opinion. There are no metaphors There are only similes as literal as they can be, and very necessary in this literal world Avice Benner Cho, for instant, is a Similea girl who was hurt in the darkness and ate what was given to herOnly specially raised Ambassadors are able to communicate with the Ariekei And it is this way until one day an unexpected new Ambassador arrives And everything goes to hell A world destroying mistake Not a stupid one only the very worst luck. China Mi ville once again does what knows how to do best gives the readers an amazingly vivid and weird bit of worldbuilding, creating the environment that is so alive and real despite or maybe because of its inherent strangeness On this canvas he layers the story of war and destruction, the power struggle with the appeal and danger of politics, and brings in the colonizers vs the colonized relationship perspective from the weirdest angle imaginable And it works, as usual, full of CM s captivating storytelling magic It s all immersing and impossible to put down And in reaching into the depths of this story, taking in the message that is being spoken to me, I m LIKE a girl who ate what was given to her I m NOT unlike a girl who ate I AM a girl who are what was given to herHehe, that was fun Misused, yes, but fun. Before the humans came, we didn t speak so much of certain things We were grown into Language After history we made city and machines and gave them names We didn t speak so much of certain things Language spoke us The words that wanted to be city and machines had us speak them so they could be. The Language, albeit described in such a fascinating way, is only an excuse, a background, a way to make the reader reflect on the power dynamics and the attempts to reconcile the old and the new, the culture that is brought in and the culture that already exists What is better the purity of what is already established or the allure of the unknown that leads who knows where How much stake can we put into championing what we think is right, what we think there should be view spoiler And speaking of championing what you think is right I loved what was done with the character of Scile, the admirer of the way Ariekei lived their lives He subverts the common trope of an outsider stepping into the world and realizing the power and rightness of the tradition of the natives and championing it successfully Scile s role gets turned on its head, he becomes a fanatic with a noble but unsustainable mission, and I love this turn of events Because he is wrong and yet not entirely wrong It s not the Ambassadors job to understand the Hosts, I said So whose is it It s no one s job to understand them I think that was when I first really saw the gap between us. hide spoiler There s not a correct answer to the above question, even in the light of Mi ville s uncharacteristically optimistic endingbut in all honesty, once I read it again I realized how much hidden bittwersweetness it holds, and how much potential for badness there is even in this optimism. I never, in Embassytown, the immer or the out, had the constitution for the intrigue Floaking, I d hoped, was a way around it But politics finds you. And a special applause goes to CM s protagonist, Avice Benner Cho She is a very strong and brave character, and yet is rather calm, low key, and even somewhat detached She is self sufficient and resourceful, level headed and determined, and I love all of that She has a very healthy attitude about life, and it s very refreshing to read the story in such a voice She does what needs to be done, without whining, without needless deliberation, without any extra drama After all, she is the girl who ate what was given to her She is like well, many things And that is vitally important I loved this book immensely It is the second sci fi book revolving around language that I ve read this year The first was Delaney s Babel 17 , and it spoke to me, referring to so many things that I care about It was a great read, an amazing book from a favorite author, and yet another proof that China Mi ville can succeed at writing about anything c mon, he already successfully wrote about space elevators after all 5 stars We speak now or I do, and others do You ve never spoken before You will You ll be able to say how the city is a pit and a hill and a standard and an animal that hunts and a vessel on the sea and the sea and how we are fish in it, not like the man who swims weekly with fish but the fish with which he swims, the water, the pool I love you, you light me, warm me, you are suns.You have never spoken before March 2013 Having just reread this book with the Mi villians group here on Goodreads , I was thrilled that I loved this book eventhe second time around Thank you, my friends, for taking this Mi ville linguistic space journey with me This time, politics behind the events of Embassytown caught my attention muchthan they did on the first read when I focused on Language most of the time This book is definitely one of my favorites now


  3. unknown unknown says:

    BLARGH this guy This guy needs to be stopped He is using all the ideas He is taking all the genres I was going to delete that but it got 10 votes, so it can stay The sentiment still rings true Stop using up all the ideas, you limey bastard INTERIOR Parking garage Almost every space is full The only opening is a narrow space labeled Compact Car To its left sits a SHINY MOTORCYCLE. A BLACK LEXUS creeps into view The driver is irritated, swinging his head back and forth in sea BLARGH this guy This guy needs to be stopped He is using all the ideas He is taking all the genres I was going to delete that but it got 10 votes, so it can stay The sentiment still rings true Stop using up all the ideas, you limey bastard INTERIOR Parking garage Almost every space is full The only opening is a narrow space labeled Compact Car To its left sits a SHINY MOTORCYCLE. A BLACK LEXUS creeps into view The driver is irritated, swinging his head back and forth in search of a parking spot He spies the open space DRIVER Yes, finally sees sign Fuuuck considers Screw it The driver attempts to pull into the small space He cuts the corner to closely and bumps the motorcycle, which FALLS OVER DRIVER SHIT Backing quickly out of the space, he attempts to drive away, but accidentally shifts into second, stalls DRIVER Goddammit Suddenly, a MENACING BALD MAN appears, slamming his fists against the driver s window MENACING BALD MAN OY MATE WOT THE FUCK That s my bike Driver continues to try to get his car in gear MBM Hey arsehole Pounds on glass Open this window before I break it open Don t you know who I am I M CHINA FUCKING MI VILLE DRIVER Oooooh shit Slowly opens window Hey, hi, Mr Mi ville I know what this must look like Really, I was just backing out so I could open my door without damaging the bike I was just looking for some paper to write a note My insurance coverage is reallyCHINA FUCKING MI VILLE The hell you were, I saw you trying to drive away Hey, wait a tic You look familiar I know you You work for my publisher You re that audiobook guy DRIVER Yes, yes sir, that s me So you see, I certainly would never do anything to harm our working relationship Why, I can give you cash now, how much do youCFM SHUT UP You horse s arse You were leaving the scene You are lucky I don t call the cops But I m not going to do thatDRIVER relieved Oh, thank you sir, thank you Believe me, I would neverCFM I TOLD YOU TO SHUT UP clenches fists No, I m not going to call the cops This is what I am going to do a menacing smile begins to spread across his face as he talks I m going to write a book A sci fi book this time And it is going to be complicated It is going to be dense as hell, with words that are unusual and hard to pronounce It is going to take a long time to record And, just for you, my good friend, it is going to be all about a language that is impossible for a human to speak or understand Oh, I ll be able to visualize it in print just fine But I sure pity the asshole who has to record it onto an audiobook CFM does a HEAD FAKE toward the driver, who flinches back Good on ya , mate In one swift motion, CFM yanks his bike up by the handles, hops on and guns the engine As he speeds away, tires screeching, his flips the driver the DOUBLE V SIGN because he is BRITISH DRIVER Shit


  4. Cecily Cecily says:

    How can a novel about language leave one speechless In a good way, I hasten to add This was the third Mieville I ve read, and they are all very different in style, content and my liking or not.The core idea of this one is language how minds shape language and how language shapes minds Wonderful as it was, I can see reasons why some people would hate it, or find it too weird, or just not sci fi enough If you don t delight in polysemy and are not interested in the difference between simile a How can a novel about language leave one speechless In a good way, I hasten to add This was the third Mieville I ve read, and they are all very different in style, content and my liking or not.The core idea of this one is language how minds shape language and how language shapes minds Wonderful as it was, I can see reasons why some people would hate it, or find it too weird, or just not sci fi enough If you don t delight in polysemy and are not interested in the difference between simile and metaphor, this is unlikely to be the book for you Because of the tantalising style of storytelling, drip feeding the reader snippets about things from the trivial to the fundamental, it s definitely a book worth rereading, and that is especially true on the subject of language, to which I ve devoted a whole section of this review which I will doubtless need to rewrite after a reread.The plot is to some extent secondary, but it is the reminiscences going back to childhood of a woman from Embassytown who travels, comes back and becomes enmeshed in the extraordinary Language capital letter of the alien Hosts FIRST IMPRESSIONSThe first section left me exhilarated but reeling It was so vague and yet specific, nearly familiar, yet also strangely different, and in such an enticing way It hints at all sorts of weirdness that I couldn t quite put my finger on odd units of time and some odd typography in the pages ahead and others that I couldn t even get my head around what are alien colours related to Douglas Adams Hooloovoo, a super intelligent shade of the colour blueEven the names and numbers of the sections were hard to fathom, making the reader as disoriented as an ambassador in an alien land.This teasing bafflement continues throughout most of the book Mieville doesn t pad with early exposition, so the reader is fed occasional snippets about what things mean Sometimes I wondered if I d missed something, particularly things that were clearly fundamental to the book e.g what was special about the Ambassadors, what the Hosts looked like, and what being performing a simile means but as I read on, and gradually learned , I realised that was just part of the style of the book Having just read Mieville s The City The City see my review HERE , I was also struck by parallels there is lots about borders, separation, boundaries, outsiders, the strange duality of the city the Host city, where the streets changed their looks not quite a hard border but was still remarkably abrupt, a gaseous transition and one character is cleaved , when cleavage is a significant aspect of TCTC.SENSE OF PLACEEmbassytown is a trading outpost used by humans from Bremen and Earth Terre in the future It is on a planet inhabited by the Ariekei,respectfully known as Hosts They have a unique Language view spoiler that requires two simultaneous voices from one mind hide spoiler , and the Ambassadors are the translators The Hosts are also experts at biorigging, so many aspects of the city and its technology are appealingly bizarre, giving a very strong sense of place, even though some aspects are left to the reader s imagination.The immer isamorphous concept of space or outer space, and Avice s first experience of it is impossible to describe There are currents and storm fronts in the immer as well as borders, but the usual laws of physics, and even direction, don t apply For instance, in the first one universe light was about twice as fast as it is here now and some places are closer together in the immer than in the everyday The immer s reaches don t correspond at all to the dimensions of the manchmal, this space where we live The best we can do is say that the immer underlies or overlies, infuses, is a foundation Also, People get lost in the overlapping sets of knownspace NARRATORAvice is an immerser traveller of and in the immer She isn t a fluffy, girly sort of woman, but I would have little interest in reading about her if she was Even so, she came across as plausibly female to me, which is not something all male writers can achieve She wasn t especially endearing, and in the middle of the book she was often faffing around, trying to find out what was going on, but not actually achieving much In particular, there are some key plot points where she relies on hearsay I wasn t there but that s how I was told it happened , which is brave decision on Mieville s part, though I think he just about retains her credibility Despite those instances, she is central to the story, mainly in her childhood, and then towards the end of the book.THEMES Given that the Host s Language is thought and literal truth, the most obvious theme is the nature of truth and lies and the question of whether we make language or language makes us See the section on Language, below.I don t think we re meant to have a clear idea what the Hosts look like it s all about language Language, rather than judging by outward appearance Mieville drops little clues throughout the book, but it takes a long time to build up a picture, which remains somewhat fuzzy, but utterly alien When newly arrived crew stare, unashamedly, at the Hosts, Avice recounts a theory that no matter how travelled people are they can t be insouciant at the first sight of any exot race our bodies know we should not ever see them Of course, the vagueness is also a teasing tactic, which entices the reader to keep reading, and avoids distracting from the main force of the story Related to that is Ehrsul an autom who is Avice s friend, albeit they rely on all the exaggerated intimacies of our friendship Scyle can never quite think of her as human enough to be friends with her, whereas Avice pushes any doubts to the back of her mind Maybe an autom who is TOO realistic isunsettling than one that is clearly not human That s uncanny valley On the other hand, She only ever used one corpus, according to some Terrephile sense of politesse or accommodation having to relate to someone variably physically incarnate would trouble us humans and her apartment is decorated with pictures on the wall, so that visitors feel relaxed and at home Would Ehrsul pass the Turing Test The fact she runs on Turingware suggests she would, but perhaps it would depend who tested her, which then questions the whole nature of the test itself Other aspects of what it is to be human touchon Brave New World, and Soylent Green In the latter case, the Hosts natural last incarnation was as a food store for the young Having given that up, they respectfully shepherd the ambulatory corpses until they fall apart , despite their dignified mindlessness The former view spoiler relates to the way Ambassadors are bred identical twins, raised to be able to think, act and, crucially, speak, as one, as that is the only way to be understood by the Hosts hide spoiler.Colonialism and all the socio political and practical issues around it are central, though not my main area of interest I saw many echoes of view spoiler the Opium Wars, hide spoiler a particularly shameful episode in British colonial history I suppose the main difference is view spoiler that the Language Ariekei were addicted to albeit a corrupted form was something previously regarded as unequivocally good Does that change the ethics of addiction, drug pushing, treatment they might not be addicted anybut they re not cured they re changed , and do the means justify the ends hide spoiler IDEAS ABOUT LANGUAGEThis is the heart of the book, but so hard to do justice to, but I ll attempt it HOSTS LANGUAGEThe Hosts language called Language is the most important to the story, and it is wonderfully strange it must be spoken simultaneously in two voices by a single mind The sounds aren t where the meaning lies it needs a mind behind it The Hosts themselves have two means of vocal output cut and turn , but it sof a challenge for humans to utter it in a way that the Hosts even register as speech, let alone understand The other distinctive feature of Language is that it is an utterly concrete and literal language lies and multiple meanings are not possible For Hosts, speech was thought and Words don t signify they are their referents How can they be sentient and not have symbolic language Side effects of the strangeness of Language are that the Hosts have no system of gestures nor of writing Mieville accommodates the duality by writing simultaneous words above each other, like fractions.However, it s not quite so straightforward or static as that sounds SIMILESThe Hosts use similes to express things that are not literally true the catch being that the similes themselves must be concrete and must continue to be true The man who swims with fishes every week has to swim with fishes every week If only the simile had been in the past tense, his life would be much easier Avice was a simile You speak Language I am it , but others were examples and topics, and later, Avice declares, I don t want to be a simile anyI want to be a metaphor One puzzle is how the Hosts know they need a simile, let alone define it, before they have it in Language Similes are the thin end of the wedge where truth is concerned Similes start transgressions Because we can refer to anything Even though in Language, everything s literal but I can be like anything Similes are a way out A route from reference to signifying It s a relatively small step from You are like x to You are x A metaphor is a step further a lie that is the truth.LIESThe Hosts can understand lies, and they also have a Festival of Lies, where they entertain each other by trying to lie I was reminded Lister, in the comedy sci fi, Red Dwarf, trying to teach the mechanoid, Kryten, to lie using fruit There are several tactics to lying they tend to be incremental and often use similes collaborative, going slow, going fast But does lying have a moral cost does it inevitably lead to evil And what is evil in a non religious place where some barely have a concept of the word SAPIR WHORFThe ideas of Sapir Whorf underlie much of this that the structure of a language can affect the cognition of those who use it, see Linguistic Relativity Without language for things that didn t exist, they could hardly think them , with hardly being the crucial get out What about Hosts who lose the power of speech If they can t speak, can they think Language for Ariekei was speech and thought at once Do we make language or does language make us As the book progresses, some Hosts have a strong desire for the former We want to decide what to hear, how to live, what to say, what to speak, how to mean, what to obey We want Language to put to our use Avice realises Their longtime striving for lies was to make Language mean what they wanted.Another way of looking at it is whether Language is the continuation of coercion by other means , as one character claims, or whether it s cooperation, as another claims.A brilliant sci fi short story that is also underpinned by Sapir Whorf is Ted Chaing s The Story of Your Life, reviewed HERE filmed as Arrival, November 2016.OTHER LANGUAGE RELATED IDEASOther odd languages are fleetingly mentioned, such as Homash They speak by regurgitation Pellets embedded with enzymes which their interlocutors eat There is also mention of Tactile languages, bioluminescent words Dialects comprehensible only as palimpsests a favourite word of Mieville s of references to everything already said, or in which adjectives are rude and verbs unholy The quirks of Language affect the writing of the book In particular, are Ambassadors singular or plural The answer is both, even in a single sentence, for example, Ambassador JasMin was in earshot and I made a point of asking them This makes sense, theyou understand about them.The vagueness of some things, and the neologisms see below only added to the appeal for me maybe I became a little addicted to Language There is a wonderful passage describing the joy of a Helen Keller moment, when one who lacked the power of communication suddenly got it.A trivial surprise was that in a largely non religious future society Christian based swearing continues in recognisable form, Jesus Pharoahtekton Christ , whereas I d expect the words to have morphed a little like crikey Finally, I m not enough of a linguist to be sure of the truth of this, but it s thought provoking Sometimes translation stops you understanding SOME VOCABMost of the coinages are thrown at the reader early on, and there is no glossary this isn t one either However, the meanings are usually clear from context and common sense etymology Shiftparents, voidcraft, exoterre, biorigged, immerser versus landstuck , plastone, bookware, newsware, alt reality, sidereal, monthling, basilisking I love that one , oratee, augmens, datchipLess obviously Floaking the life technique of aggregated skill, luck, laziness and chutzpah.Trid This seemed to cover quite a lot of things, but all involved a video player display.Miab An acronym view spoiler Message In A Bottle, i.e cargo from afar hide spoiler Floak is my favourite, and I think Mieville is fully aware of its appeal and the perils of overuse Did they tell you I can floak I said I wish I d never told them that fucking word they just want the opportunity to say floak I also like the fact that exot , which refers to exo terre of or from Earth conjures strong implications of exotic.MISCELLANEOUS QUOTES Like all children we mapped our hometown carefully, urgently and idiosyncratically Its surface sheened with the saft that evanesced out from its crystal shielding in threads that degraded to nothing It was an insinuation at first, composing itself of angles and shadows It accreted itself from its surrounds, manifesting in the transient Things spilled toward and into the swimming thing, against physics They substanced it Houses were unroofed as their slates slipped sideways into a presence growing every momentphysical,suited to this realness Someone flirting was using augmens to make his face provocative, according to local aesthetics the gluttony of the architecture the frantic eavesdropping of the walls Because the building are biorigged, and thus alive, when demolition happens construction site like combined slaughterhouses, puppy farms and quarries I read this in part because of Betsey s review, focusing on the fact it s about language An interesting QA with China, here on GR And here is a video of him talking about the book a completely different angle on metaphors, see Mark Haddon s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime see my review HERE The narrator has Asperger s or similar, and hates metaphors because they are untrue even the word metaphor is a metaphor , meaning carrying something from one place to another , but doesn t mind similes because they are true


  5. carol. carol. says:

    In ninth grade, Mrs Muench who had an uncanny resemblance to Miss Marple s friend Dolly Bantry endeavored to teach us the difference between similes and metaphors Similes use like and as to compare two unlike things.Metaphors state two unlike things are the same.But dear, enthusiastic Mrs Muench could not have anticipated China s sophistry metaphors are lies.Embassytown is a deep thinking book, not one to pick up if you are in a the mood for a fast action read China s use of a futuris In ninth grade, Mrs Muench who had an uncanny resemblance to Miss Marple s friend Dolly Bantry endeavored to teach us the difference between similes and metaphors Similes use like and as to compare two unlike things.Metaphors state two unlike things are the same.But dear, enthusiastic Mrs Muench could not have anticipated China s sophistry metaphors are lies.Embassytown is a deep thinking book, not one to pick up if you are in a the mood for a fast action read China s use of a futuristic language, coupled with representation of an alien speaking that tongue in a form that looks disturbingly like a fraction equation , requires attention to detail, an ability to read for an hour or two at a time Along with altered language, he throws in the isolation of a human city in the middle of an alien world on the edge of known space altered biology, in an alien race that somehow biologically fuses grows their mechanical needs out of organics, including their homes and an alien race that not only speaks with two mouths simultaneously, but cannot lie Further complications come from his solution to deep space travel, by way of theimmerThe challenge for both races is in communication In order to communicate with the alien Ariekei, two people have to speak simultaneously, mimicking the double Ariekei mouth But since the Ariekei also sense the thought mind behind the word, two different people speaking the same thing makes no sense to the Ariekei, so the solution was to raise human clones to function as Ambassadors to the aliens.Forget Being John Malkovich I d like an hour in China s mind.Overall, I found it a fascinating, immersive read, reminding me strongly of The Dispossessed and that is highest praise although he doesn t always have LeGuin s kindness in contextualizing most oddities Still, it s well done, and balances the personal and the political well He taps some eternal truths in the midst of alien outlandishness As I ve grown older I ve become conscious of how unsurprising I am There s a sly sense of humor occasionally tempering the seriousness I knew something would happen as certainly as if this were a last chapter It shows again in the initials of the lead character s name A.B.C., fitting in a book about language.There is tenderness and compassion, however alien, when one of the self aware bio machines downloads herself into a new body, just so she can give Avice a hug.The crux of the novel lies in the Arikei limitation to speak literally Avice becomes part of their language when she takes part in an event, thus allowing the Arikei to use her as a simile It is a fascinating and fun idea ever wonder about the first cat out of the bag that allows China to play with the definitions of truth, lies, language and meaning However, language evolves, and interaction with the humans is starting to push the Arikei language to it s limits Avice ends up pushing them even further I don t want to be a simile any, I said I want to be a metaphor He unfolds the examination of language within both Avice s own life when she brings her linguist husband home to her world, and the politics of her province city China s genius shows when he throws in issues of addiction and identity into the mix.Why not five stars It is not acomfortablebook It could have been tightened up a little bit as I work my way through the review, I marvel at all the things China tried to accomplish, and wonder if he should have limited a variable or two in favor of greater coherence Was theimmernecessary, for instance There s interesting hints at Avice s friendship with an autom biological robot as the biological systems break down, but I m not sure what role it really played, and if it just confused the story further Still, an impressive work, and likely to be a classic.Interesting quotes Beside him, Ez was like a ventriloquist s doll, existing only when he spoke, or was spoken through The army of hopeless and enraged had been driven to murder by their memories of addiction, and the sight of their compatriots made craven to the words of an interloper species That degradation was the horizon of their despair Cross posted at


  6. Lyn Lyn says:

    The girl who wanted to be a metaphor.There is a certain What the hell quality about a China Mieville novel, especially in the first few pages The City and the City continued on in this quizzical, absurdist mouth breathing until damn near the middle of the book To put in Forrest Gump terms, the box of chocolates may reveal pieces that are most definitively NOT chocolate, are in point of fact not even food some bite sized morsels may be poison The box may even be a prop from a Justin Timbe The girl who wanted to be a metaphor.There is a certain What the hell quality about a China Mieville novel, especially in the first few pages The City and the City continued on in this quizzical, absurdist mouth breathing until damn near the middle of the book To put in Forrest Gump terms, the box of chocolates may reveal pieces that are most definitively NOT chocolate, are in point of fact not even food some bite sized morsels may be poison The box may even be a prop from a Justin Timberlake Saturday Night Live inspired skit The reader just does NOT know what he or she is getting into.This brings us to Embassytown This was my fourth Mieville novel, so I was prepared for the WTH queasiness or at least I thought I was As I type these words, I ponder at the socio economic, psycho theological tumultuous environment that produced Mieville Ponderously, I continue.To say that Mieville produces weird fiction would be an easy label, as Mieville has affixed that to himself, but it would also be grossly understated, and overly simplistic He produces wildly fantastic, imaginative works that scratch nails on the boundaries of what we expect in fiction Just as Philip K Dick developed a studied weirdness in Galactic Pot Healer, so too does Mieville in Embassytown he is trying, and succeeding in breaking new ground But this is not to say that he is being strange for strangeness sake see Alfred Bester s Golem 100 for an example of a spectacularly failed experiment Embassytown is cogent and correct as to its own world building What is it about What is a simile and what is the distinction between one and a metaphor Science Fiction is best when it is an allegory, and Mieville has figured that out with interest At once a cool and smart far future alien colony story, it is beneath the surface about political and personal communication Where else can we read a personified symbolism of speaking out of two sides of your mouth by an alien with two mouths Or double talking politicians who double talk Of oration that is not just persuasive, but intoxicating, even addictive Standing on the shoulders of giants, Mieville describes bio grown factories and commercial goods that reminds me of John Varley s Gaia trilogy and an alien culture that cannot imagine a lie is reminiscent of the Fair Witness from Robert A Heinlein s Stranger in a Strange Land Finally, the tone and style could have been lifted from the pages of Frank Herbert s The Dosadi Experiment All that said, this is Mieville s accomplishment and it is a fine work Not an especially easy read, but fun, well written and representative of Mieville s unique place in the genre


  7. Jacob Jacob says:

    June 2011Dear Steven Moffat China Mi ville Doctor Who Think about it.Love, JacobAvice Benner Cho is an Immerser She s a floaker She s a hoopy frood who knows where her towel is Dear Jane Belson China Mi ville Hitchhiker s Guide Bad idea She s also a simile When she was a child on the strangest planet in the universe, home to the strangest beings in the universe, she became a living part of the strangest language in the universe And then she left to explore the Out, and then she retu June 2011Dear Steven Moffat China Mi ville Doctor Who Think about it.Love, JacobAvice Benner Cho is an Immerser She s a floaker She s a hoopy frood who knows where her towel is Dear Jane Belson China Mi ville Hitchhiker s Guide Bad idea She s also a simile When she was a child on the strangest planet in the universe, home to the strangest beings in the universe, she became a living part of the strangest language in the universe And then she left to explore the Out, and then she returned and then she became witness to the strangest revolution in the universe.It s hard to explain further, Goodreaders This one you have to unfold for yourself.So China Mi ville does sci fi And huzzah for that Dear George Lucas and or James Cameron You cannot have him Fuck off I was a bit worried last year, after Kraken didn t work for me, that China s next venture wouldn t fly But it does It s a bit jumbled, like most other Mi ville stories, because he has his own worlds to set up and his own rules to go with them, and his own language to tell it with withlanguage layered throughout, in this one , so it opens slowly and takes its time to get to the story And he spends some time jumping back and forth, from formerly and latterday, which I think could have worked better divided into separate parts indeed, the Formerly chapters seem to exist as a novella, a somewhat prequel dealing with the first failed revolution of the Hosts , but that s minor quibbling It s a great story It s a great exploration of language, familiar and alien And it s great Mi ville too.2009 brought us The City the City 2010 was Kraken Now we have Embassytown and the short story Covehithe for 2011 which I hadn t fully read before I linked it here, but ohmygodguysyougottafuckingreadthis If China keeps up with this one a year habit Dear Chuck Palahniuk Surrender now , I can t wait for 2012.It s becoming an old joke, I know, but I m still holding out for chick lit.Update It s been a few weeks since I finished Embassytown, and I still keep thinking about it, so I m going to take that as a sign that four stars isn t enough Rating adjustment ahoy Dear Goodreads China Mi ville Embassytown Really, really good.Love, Jacob


  8. Warwick Warwick says:

    I see I m going to be a dissenting voice here, but I m afraid I found Embassytown to be weak, poorly plotted and fundamentally unconvincing.The book is concerned with a settlement on a planet at the edge of the known universe The city is inhabited by Ariekei, a strange species whose distinguishing feature is a unique language which has a double articulation and in which it is impossible to lie A small enclave of humans lives there, and communicates with their Hosts via a series of Ambassador I see I m going to be a dissenting voice here, but I m afraid I found Embassytown to be weak, poorly plotted and fundamentally unconvincing.The book is concerned with a settlement on a planet at the edge of the known universe The city is inhabited by Ariekei, a strange species whose distinguishing feature is a unique language which has a double articulation and in which it is impossible to lie A small enclave of humans lives there, and communicates with their Hosts via a series of Ambassadors two people bred to think as one, who, by talking simultaneously, can communicate effectively with the Ariekei natives.So far so good Unfortunately, a lot about Mi ville s world here just doesn t add up The narrator, Avice, is special She s an immerser , born with special abilities to navigate the immer , or sub space underlying the known universe We hear all about how unusual this is, and the special training she receives to be able to navigate vessels through the vast reaches of space this way.Then, the whole concept is dropped and never reappears in the novel again The whole thing turns out to have no bearing on the plot whatsoever apart from a very tangential callback during the climax Avice and other characters keep banging on about how she has these special, unique abilities but they are NEVER called on and have no relevance to anything Obviously I don t expect everything to tie together at the end, but this was just bizarre in its pointlessness.The language element of the plot, too, irritated me I am no expert, but linguistics is an interest of mine and the ideas on display here seem deeply unconvincing A couple of vague references to langue and parole are not enough to back up some very shaky concepts The whole idea of a language where you cannot lie is very problematic, if not impossible certainly it requires farexplanation than we are offered here Saying that it is a language where words are referents , far from convincing me, only made me feel that Mi ville doesn t know what he s talking about It really makes no sense to say as we are told in the book that the Ariekei employ humans to perform certain specific actions just so they can then speak of them as similes, this being necessary because unless something has literally happened they would never be able to express it in their language To ask for these actions to be carried out in the first place, they must be able to formulate the idea in advance and express it to someone This is actually pointed out by a character in the book, but no one, including the author, bothers to answer the question despite the fact that it s clearly a major flaw with the entire set up.Then there s the fact that the d nouement depends on large chunks of the Ariekei population suddenly learning to lie practically overnight not only that, but they invent an entire writing system in a single afternoon Give me a break I just didn t believe any of it The City and the City had its flaws, but it was a much better written novel than Embassytown, and I m at a loss as to why so many people seem to think this is his masterpiece The plot is all over the place, and the theories underlying it are dodgy in the extreme It s just not a particularly great book and that ain t no lie


  9. Apatt Apatt says:

    Aliens so alien they just alienate you with their alieness.That is what you have to look forward to Embassytown is a brave move by China Mi ville, it is not an easy read, it is full of neologism, and it has a steep learning curve The author made an effort to create something special and he expects some mental exertion from the reader too In order for the reader to indulge the author they generally need to have a store of goodwill for that author to want to make the effort Basically, this sho Aliens so alien they just alienate you with their alieness.That is what you have to look forward to Embassytown is a brave move by China Mi ville, it is not an easy read, it is full of neologism, and it has a steep learning curve The author made an effort to create something special and he expects some mental exertion from the reader too In order for the reader to indulge the author they generally need to have a store of goodwill for that author to want to make the effort Basically, this should not be your first Mi ville book However, this is a great book, an amazing feat of imagination, and a real work of art This is my fifth Mi ville book, and in my estimation, it is the best so far I normally dislike writing synopses but on this occasion, I d like to try writing a Ridiculously Simplified Synopsis like they have in the otherwise inferior Shelfari website Here goes On a planet where lying is impossible, one man started lying. This sounds like a bad trailer for the Ricky Gervais movie The Invention of Lying but this book is nothing quite so lame It is in some way the gist of the novel but does not really cover all the bases The impossibility of lying only applies to the alien Language always spelled with a capital L which can only be spoken with two voices sort of in stereo , it requires two very similar humans to speak them Such pairs of humans are trained and grown not bred to be Ambassadors for the human colony in the titular Embassytown One day a pair of very unusual Ambassadors arrive from Bremen humanity s home planet and all hell break loose when they start to speak.The difficulty with this book lies in the neologism, the large numbers of terms that Mi ville coins without direct explanation He leaves it to the reader to figure out their meaning through the contexts in which the words are employed This is not as hard as it sound and you don t need to understand every one of these words to follow the story As a reader, I feel somewhat flattered that the author is crediting me with a certain degree of intelligence, and I am glad he did not overestimate my IQ by much I believe most readers can follow this book but they do need to be patient, especially during the first 60 or so pages I must confess I did initially search for a bit of help online, and the most helpful assistance came from Mi ville himself in this charming video clip.While reading the first few chapters, I was initially annoyed with his presumption of my intellect but later I became amused with the new words opaqueness China Mi ville s trademarks of lyrical prose, sense of humor, skillful characterization and weirdness are all here By the end of the book, I felt like my mind has been expanded and I am once again a happy punter, and proud to call myself a Mi ville fan Mi villian Your first China Mi ville should be Perdido Street Station or The Scar


  10. Bradley Bradley says:

    This book very well could be the start of a new epoch Or at least, I think it should be Why Because it s not just Mi ville s grand far future SF at play here, full of some of the most subtle and freakishly amazing and STRANGE aliens who are very much defined by their language, but because this novel works on several levels perfectly at the same time.Am I impressed Hell yes, I m impressed Before the humans came, we didn t speak so much of certain things We were grown into Language After hi This book very well could be the start of a new epoch Or at least, I think it should be Why Because it s not just Mi ville s grand far future SF at play here, full of some of the most subtle and freakishly amazing and STRANGE aliens who are very much defined by their language, but because this novel works on several levels perfectly at the same time.Am I impressed Hell yes, I m impressed Before the humans came, we didn t speak so much of certain things We were grown into Language After history we made city and machines and gave them names We didn t speak so much of certain things Language spoke us The words that wanted to be city and machines had us speak them so they could be Take this literally These aliens couldn t even conceive of us because their language is the Truth of them This is the inability to see the ships on the horizon, taken all the way Lies are impossible, too Metaphors, doubly so So when a horrible mistake happens with the new dual one embassador that manages to actually use the Language to tell a lie, the lie becomes the ultimate drug to the aliens.Enter the collapse of an entire ultra advanced alien species, with us as the ultimate satanic villains.If you think this is cool as shit, just read the book It becomes a lotAnd worse happens.The novel works on all levels Just imagine Cherryh ramped up to Mi ville craziness, wickedly subtle and strange peoples and aliens, and let the good times roll in heartbreak, horror, and the terror of having to live with all of your damn stupid mistakes Yeah, I m talking about you, Humanity Jerk


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