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Embassytown

By China Miéville
Narrated by Susan Duerden / 12 hours 22 minutes
Bookseller Recommendation

Embassytown

“Communication is the focus of this brilliant science fiction novel. Humans are settlers on a remote planet inhabited by the Ariekei, beings whose language is so different, they don’t even recognize the sounds humans make as anything but static. Their language is so complex, it takes two humans to utter a word. But it’s so strict, it takes human intervention to allow them to express even the simplest abstract concept. This novel is for sci-fi fans into immersive worldbuilding. It’s also for anyone who enjoys wordplay and linguistics. In some ways reading it is like solving a NYT crossword that’s slightly too hard, but so rewarding once you figure out the theme. Susan Duerden is a phenomenal narrator. She has a strong British voice that adds to the strength of the protagonist. Some directorial decisions add much to the otherworldliness of the Ariekei language. It's jarring at first, but it makes sense in the end.”

Bookie’s image Keith, Bookie’s

China Miéville doesn’t follow trends, he sets them. Relentlessly pushing his own boundaries as a writer—and in the process expanding the boundaries of the entire field—with Embassytown, Miéville has crafted an extraordinary novel that is not only a moving personal drama but a gripping adventure of alien contact and war.

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 yet speaks through her.

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