Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Book note

by China Mieville

A chewy and enjoyable alien/human communication story (not first contact, though sometimes it feels like it.) Avice has returned to her home of Embassytown on an alien planet. She becomes entangled, first, in the dilemmas of an alien species reaching out for a human quality it doesn't understand, then in the fallout of a dangerous human contaminant that could well destroy the aliens (and the Embassytown humans with them.)

The plot is grand and sweeping, with change threatening on a planetary scale. It feels like old-fashioned science fiction: an attempt to create an entirely new alien contact problem that needs to be solved with human ingenuity. All the while playing with the net up. Nice to see.

Quibbles: false flags on Avice's reliability as a narrator distracted me; there is something in Avice's personality or history that seems a little off -- I still can't tell if that's a feature or a bug. And I would have really liked to see Scile's transformation, instead of hearing third-hand snippets about it.

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