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.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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