Thursday, November 3, 2011

#46: Embassytown by China Mieville

A small human embassy on a remote alien planet welcomes a new ambassador; but a resulting faux pas almost destroys both human and alien civilizations in China Mieville's thought-provoking sci-fi novel Embassytown.

I labored long to come up with a short description of the novel and have had a hard time articulating its depth and breadth to others.  It is dense and fascinating and brimming with all kinds of original thinking, especially in terms of the nature of language and thought.

I am somewhat new to Mieville and have learned that he is part of the writing tradition called The New Weird, which is I think the hip contemporary descendant of what I called the "hippie-fi" writing of the 60s and 70s from authors like Michael Moorcock, Philip K. Dick, and Samuel R. Delany.

Mieville has also stated he would like to write a novel in every genre from western to detective to so on; to me this one hews closest to horror, and even makes an oblique reference to George Romero's zombie films.  But perhaps more so I would say Mieville is trying to capture some of the baroque nature of Delany's Dahlgren or Dick's martian novels.  Either author would probably give Embassytown a nod of approval along with a scratch of the head.

I checked this out from the Morrison-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana.

Embassytown has been one of my favorite reads of the year, and I would recommend it to fantasy or sci-fi fans who want a challenge.

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