Sunday, January 27, 2013


Embassytown For some reason, I've been putting off tackling China Miéville, and Embassytown has been sitting on my shelf for a year. I wrongly assumed that this was some sort of sequel to The City and The City, which it isn't. It didn't take me more than a couple of chapters to realise I shouldn't have left it so long.

The underlying plot device of Embassytown is linguistics. While this isn't unique, it was new for me. This is far from my comfort zone, but the playful way Miéville approaches the plot disarms much of the potential barrier, for example, dreaming up useful neologisms - such as floaking - I useful term I can see me applying to students and colleagues alike. It was good to read sci-fi not completely sequestered by tech (although I did feel the sub-plot about traveling the Immer is both unnecessary and abandoned in the latter part of the book). In general, the flaccid second half of the book is repetitive and about 100 pages too long.

So is Miéville a great writer, the equivalent of Philip K. Dick? No. He rivals Dick's imagination but lacks the discipline. But he's still one of the best current sci-fi authors around, and I won't be leaving it long before ploughing through his back catalog.


  1. Nice review: you need to write more! And possibly read more, as I should.

    1. Reading more Miéville is on my agenda :-)