Skip to main content

Embassytown by China Mieville : A delightful cocktail of Aliens and Language


Its scary to have high expectations. More often than not you end up devastated but I am happy to say this is not one of those instances. China Mieville has exceeded all my expectations and come up with the most unique book that I have ever read. Embassytown is a science fiction novel that is at once a thriller and a treatise in linguistics and as usual Mieville takes on a genre and turns it on its head.
This is at its core a study of language albeit one carried in so thrilling a manner that I hardly paused while reading Embassytown. Imagine there are aliens, of course they have means to communicate with themselves but for them everything is as is, their language does not have a concept of abstraction. They cannot lie and make things up so to speak. What they say has to be the truth. Mieville takes this simple idea and stretches it to its absolute limits, building a world, a system of space travel that is incredibly well realized.
The writing is just magnificent. The way Mieville chooses his words and the way he skillfully he shows and hides the physical characteristics of the aliens teasing the imagination of the reader. The way the first words of the novel prepare you for the ride ahead.
At one point of time I was so engrossed in reading this book that I was shocked when someone called out for me. This book is going to win all sorts of awards and this review does not do it justice. A work of pure unadulterated genius and an absolute masterclass.
"The word must communicate something (other than itself)."

You can buy Embassytown here.

Comments

Arindam said…
Bring this to office tomorrow. Gonna borrow it.

Popular posts from this blog

An ode to Hall 1

This goes out to Hall 1, the hostel where all the 4th year students of IIT Kanpur live. Indeed this hostel serves as a meeting ground between familiar foes some of who go on to become friends. A lot of factors make Hall 1 what it is. It acquires a mythic quality right from the first year when juniors are often threatened with “Aaj raat hall 1 main chal”. The seniors who live in Hall 1 seem to have a totally different existence as compared to the rest of the campus. On a visit to the hostel in the first year all one hears is the constant swearing, and sees everyone in shorts or in suits. Legends surround Hall 1 and in our first year the stories we hear are of Hall 1 and none other. Indeed Hall 1 residents perpetuate this myth as well acting as if they are the scariest beings on the campus. Indeed the fear is such that if a fresher goes to Hall 1 they are not expected to come back. There is something about Hall 1 that separates it from the rest of the Halls. For starters, Hall 1 has

The Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence

What a great read this turned out to be.  I was completely engrossed and fascinated. Jorg Ancrath starts of as a young prince who wants to get his throne back, get back everything he has lost and most importantly get revenge and he is prepared to do anything to achieve his aims. The thing is that Jorg Ancrath is a despicable violent bastard. He does things that should curdle your blood. But despite all of it, Jorg's voice is compelling. I couldn't help but put myself in his shoes. For most of the trilogy I was Jorg Ancrath even through his dastardly deeds(especially through his dastardly deeds). There was a part of me that couldn't help identifying with his ruthless streak of getting what he wants no matter what the cost. I have yet to find another character who embodies "The end justifies the means" more than Jorg Ancrath. The world itself set on an Earth of the far future. (Similar to the dying earth series by Jack Vance and Book of the new sun by Gene

The best of Paul Graham

Paul Graham is a startup incubator. He also happens to write essays which are really really good. In general I wish I had them read them a lot earlier. I have been reading his essays for a while now. Here are some extracts which I liked and so it begins. Addictive things have to be treated as if they were sentient adversaries—as if there were a little man in your head always cooking up the most plausible arguments for doing whatever you're trying to stop doing. If you leave a path to it, he'll find it. And my main computer is now freed for work. If you try this trick, you'll probably be struck by how different it feels when your computer is disconnected from the Internet. It was alarming to me how foreign it felt to sit in front of a computer that could only be used for work, because that showed how much time I must have been wasting. From Disconnecting Distraction How do you avoid copying the wrong things? Copy only what you genuinely like. That would have sav