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Monday, January 20, 2014

Ursula K Le Guin on Embassytown



My latest book from the library is Embassytown by China Miéville. Here's the blurb from Amazon.com ...

In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak. Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist, has returned to Embassytown after years of deep-space adventure. She cannot speak the Ariekei tongue, but she is an indelible part of it, having long ago been made a figure of speech, a living simile in their language. When distant political machinations deliver a new ambassador to Arieka, the fragile equilibrium between humans and aliens is violently upset. Catastrophe looms, and Avice is torn between competing loyalties: to a husband she no longer loves, to a system she no longer trusts, and to her place in a language she cannot speak—but which speaks through her, whether she likes it or not.

I'm just at the beginning of the book and so far it's a bit hard to understand but I'll persevere (this is the third book of Miéville's I've tried - the first was The City & the City, which I liked, and the second was Kraken, which I didn't like as much).

Ursula K Le Guin did a review of the book for The Guardian. Here's just the beginning of it ...

Some authors fill a novel with futuristic scenery and jargon and then strenuously, even stertorously, deny that it's science fiction. No, no, they don't write that nasty stuff, never touch it. They write literature. Though curiously familiar with the tropes and conventions of the despised genre, they so blithely ignore the meaning of terms, they reinvent the wheel with such cries of self-admiration, that their endeavours seem a doomed effort to prove that one can write a novel without learning how. China Miéville knows what kind of novel he's writing, calls it by its name, science fiction, and exhibits all the virtues that make it an intensely interesting form of literature ...

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