Monday, December 10, 2012

Discovering the Alien in Us

Deep thoughts, passionate characters, and a thrilling story, skillfully wrought…

Embassytown, by China MiĆ©ville, won the 2012 Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.  It was also nominated for the Arthur C. ClarkeAward, Nebula Award for Best Novel, and Hugo Award for Best Novel. 

While Embassytown can be read as a subversively creative science fiction story, it works on a variety of levels, addressing addiction, allegory, American adventurism in the 21st century, apocalypse, armed rebellion in colonial states, civil war, the excesses of revolutionary movements, human perception, ineffable experience, mans' inhumanity, Marxism, metaphor, philosophy, post-WWII liberation movements, the role of language in cognition, simile, social justice, Taliban brutality, transhumanism, Western imperialism in China in the 19th century, and what it means to be truly alien.

evokes familiar and not so familiar images and concepts from literature, art, and politics as varied as Alien, cyberpunk, Dune, H.R. Giger, Homage to Catalonia, Lord of the Rings, Machiavelli, Marx, and Starship Troopers.

This is the sort of novel one reads and then seeks out the company of friends, compatriots, and literate strangers with whom to tease out and argue over all the book's many ideas while drinking through long beer lists and eating too many peanuts.  My appointment for just such an ethanol and sodium-fueled recapitulation is this Friday.

If you love science fiction or fine writing read Embassytown.   It's both.