Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The red plague rid you for learning me your language

Okay, show of hands. Who's read Embassytown? I'm about a third of the way through it.

It's about a woman named Avice Benner Cho (note the initials) who's used as a "simile" in the language of an alien race. Language, along with perception, is one of China Miéville's big topics. And it's an interesting subject.

But this one isn't lighting my fire like, say, The City & the City. It's a little jargon-y for my tastes. I have this feeling about science fiction that if your premise requires more than a certain amount of explanation, you should probably find another approach.

I'll still hear him out through the end. Miéville is one of those authors so interesting and against-the-grain that you never completely waste your time by reading them. But there are levels.


susan said...

Okay, one hand up here, but I think Jer may have read it too. I thought it was pretty interesting, the alien language concept was brilliant, but it lacked an element of clarity. The major problem I had was with Avice. It was like Miéville just needed a pair of eyes to observe everything in Embassytown, and didn't feel the need to really flesh her out. As a main character she felt very remote and distant and Miéville indulged a tendency to tell us what she felt and experienced rather than having shown us.

I agree he is a great writer, though, and even one of his weaker books still contains enough sheer weirdness to be satisfying. My favorite too was 'The City & the City' but I also loved 'Railsea'.

Ben said...

I liked where he went with the story, with the war and unusual peace arrived at with the Hosts. But yeah, Avice felt a little bit generic, at least by his standards. It would be interesting to see what the story would read like with the sociopathic half-Ambassador narrating, but maybe that's not workable.

"Railsea" did impress me a great deal.he must have had fun reading "Moby Dick."