On Embassytown

Embassytown features the following: intelligent horse-sized insectoid aliens, faster-than-light propulsion, androids, organic technology (‘biorigging’), warpspace (‘the immer’), clones, advanced bionics, nanotech notepaper, flying microcameras (‘vespcams’), people with futuristically well-adjusted sexualities, projected holographic adverts (‘trids’), a diasporic human race spread across galaxies and tracing its roots back to the mythical home planet of Terre, a pan-galactic language closely resembling English (‘Anglo-Ubiq’), space-adapted monotheism (‘Christ Pharotekton’) and artificial intelligences (‘artminds’) made seemingly sentient with ‘turingware’. In themselves all these elements will be familiar, almost liturgical, to anyone versed in science fiction, but for China Miéville the tradition’s tropes are the keyboard, not the performance.

More at the LRB. The book is Embassytown.



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I’m not a fan of Genre Fiction, but I make an exception for Miéville (and a few others). I just finished Embassytown, and while it is not his best, it is a great read. I think it’s a must read for anyone interested in linguistics and how language relates to thought. That being said, if you can read only one Miéville book, read Perdido Street Station which really reflects his love of the weird, and his ability to make a world both extremely alien and extremely familiar.

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