Friday, 31 January 2014

Book Review: Embassytown by China Mieville

A couple years ago I had only heard China Mieville's name in passing. I thought of him only as one of the 'It' fantasy authors that probably wrote fantasy just like the rest of the guys who fill store bookshelves. I'm talking about the authors who write about Elves, Orcs like say, Terry Goodkind. One day I saw a cover of one of his novels with a quote comparing him to Philip K. Dick, an author I think is one of the most important writes EVER! But I didn't buy it. But I took a mental note to read him someday, particularly Embassytown, which seemed the closest to my thing.

When I finally decided to read Embassytown, I was caught totally off-guard. It was not at all what I was expecting. This novel is like nothing I had read before. There are concepts and ideas in this novel that I couldn't image even considering to explore, let alone write fiction around. 

I'v always somewhat avoided reading books written in the First-Person narrative style. I found most of the novels written in First Person sounded like Chuck Palahniuk imitators. Well, some of them, while others I read are like being told what's happening in a story, rather then watching or experiencing it. But Embassytown is one a give a pass to. For starters, this novel could not be written in any other perspective. Put it this way: China Mieville is not capable of describing this world. Whereas Avice Brenner, the main character, can, to herself or someone else in that world. This will make sense if you read the book!

This is considered Mr. Mieville's first foray into science-fiction, despite previously winning SF awards. And yes, this is science-fiction, but I'm sure some have gone in expecting a space opera like one by Iain M. Banks. This is nothing like that. There are elements of space opera in Embassytown, but cannot be described as such. This closest relative to this novel would be something by the author Ursula K. Le Guin. This is soft sci-fi.

China Mieville is most definitely one of the most original writers out there. He has the imagination of Philip K. Dick, and the intelligence of Asimov, written with the style and grace of a Samuel Delaney or Ursula Le Guin. And that's just with Embassytown. I want to say so much more but I think I'll finish off here. 

Read this novel.

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