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Extended Audio Sample Embassytown Audiobook, by China Miéville Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (7,774 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: China Miéville Narrator: Susan Duerden Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2011 ISBN: 9780307913807
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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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Quotes & Awards

  • “A fully achieved work of art.”

    Ursula K. Le Guin, award-winning author

  • “The most engrossing book I’ve read this year, and the latest evidence that brilliant, challenging, rewarding writing of the highest order is just as likely to be found in the section labeled Science Fiction as the one marked Literature.”

    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

  • “Miéville’s swing-for-the-fences gusto thrills. This is Big Idea Sci-Fi at its most propulsively readable.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Miéville [is] one of today’s most exciting fabulist writers.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Original, sophisticated, bristling with subversive ideas, and filled with unforgettably alien images…An amazing, sometimes brutal rhapsody on the uses of language.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Richly conceived…Embassytown has the feel of a word-puzzle, and much of the pleasure of figuring out the logic of the world and the story comes from gradually catching the full resonance of its invented and imported words.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • A 2012 John W. Campbell Memorial Award Finalist
  • A New York Times bestseller
  • Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books, Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2011
  • Winner of the 2012 Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
  • A 2012 Arthur C. Clarke Award Finalist
  • A 2012 Hugo Award Nominee

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nonsomniac | 2/19/2014

    " Interesting ideas, but unnecessarily long. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Phillip | 2/16/2014

    " A beautiful, almost poetic use and study of language. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer Wilson-niskanen | 2/15/2014

    " At first it was very hard to get into. There is a lot are jargon, way more than enhances the story. It tries over hard to be something smart but despite flaws the story and characters grew on me. There was some intelligent philosophy under all that noise and the plot and aliens were intriguing. It was well worth reading even if it wasn't fun at first. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dytannia | 2/12/2014

    " I adore Mieville & he did not disappoint in Embassytown. In fact, I think this moves in to my top three favorites of his books. The story was, yet again, filled with amazingly unique world building. Despite that the main thrust of the story is about an incredibly alien race, Mieville gives us an "in" through the main character that allows us to sympathize with the Host without overtly anthropomorphizing them. Or perhaps it is better to say he pushes the anthropomorphizing onto the main character, where it belongs as a natural part of their human nature, instead of fumbling it as a third person narrator. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Richard | 1/23/2014

    " Proper skiffy, makes you think. Proper thriller, makes you turn the pages. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carmen Montopoli | 1/18/2014

    " The first 40 pages of this book were basically unreadable, full of Mieville's usual mix of pompous prose and invented language, but then it really picked up. In some ways, it echoed the process of learning a language by immersion: that first period when you don't understand anything, that second period when you sort of get some things, and the third period when all of a sudden you're thinking and talking and understanding everything. I like the notion of not being able to engage in language without referents; it really messes with basic semiotics. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 charlotte | 1/18/2014

    " Nobody dramatizes ideas like China Mieville. Consider this exchange, which comes late in the story: "'Language is the continuation of coercion by other means.' 'Bullshit. It's cooperation.' Both theories explained what happened plausibly. I resisted, because it felt trite, saying that they weren't as contradictory as they sounded." Interesting debate, no? And you could certainly sit around with some sociologists and have it. But what makes this novel great isn't just the IDEAS, but the way the ideas take shape in the story. It begins with a wonderful conceit: eons in the future, humans have colonized a planet where the indigenes speak a language requiring two mouths, which only expresses fact. Only a few specially bred and trained pairs of humans - Ambassadors - can speak it. The narrator is Avice, born in Embassytown, who as a child became a living simile in the indigenes' language, "the girl who was hurt in darkness and ate what was given to her." After traveling the known universe as a space-sailor, she returns to Embassytown with her new husband, a linguist. What happens next, after the arrival of an Ambassador trained off-world, is fascinating and philosophical, both a great meditation on the nature of language and colonialism, as well as a great, page-turning story. I will definitely be reading more of Mieville's work! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lawrence | 1/15/2014

    " holy cow, this book is full of strange and crazy ideas, just like science fiction should be, but wow, are they over the top, and so difficult to follow as to be supremely boring. Sad! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 VeganMedusa | 1/15/2014

    " After reading Perdido Street Station and The City and the City, I felt admiration for the author. After reading this book I've got a bit of a crush on him, and now consider myself a Number One Fan (but not in a creepy Misery way). "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jordan Moore | 1/13/2014

    " In my opinion easily Mieville's best, and I'm a pretty big Mieville fan. I think he nailed the first person perspective, and this book is much more in the vein of Gene Wolfe and Ursula K. Le Guin than most of his previous work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 stephanie . | 12/26/2013

    " transgressive linguistics + aliens = sexy "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John Haverkamp | 12/21/2013

    " best first contact themed sci-phi ever. only Vernor Vinges epics come close but have none of the Edward Said sensibility Mieville imparts. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Vladimirhumbert | 10/15/2013

    " So very original if a little ramshackle narratively. You cannot fault his brilliant imagination. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Steve | 10/2/2013

    " Normally I have enjoyed Mr Mieville's novels immensely however i struggled to finish this latest offering. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tony Blythe | 6/11/2013

    " Absolutely amazing book; I am in awe of Mieville! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Greg | 12/18/2012

    " There's probably a great sci-fi novel to be written about Derridean theories of language. I'm not sure this one is it, but it was a pretty remarkable attempt. "

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About the Author

China Miéville is the author of King Rat; Perdido Street Station, winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the British Fantasy Award; The Scar, winner of the Locus Award and the British Fantasy Award; Iron Council, winner of the Locus Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award; Looking for Jake, a collection of short stories; and Un Lun Dun, a New York Times bestseller.

About the Narrator

Susan Duerden is an actress and an Earphones Award–winning audiobook narrator. Her reading of The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht earned her an AudioFile Best Voice Award and a Booklist Editors’ Choice Award. She has won ten AudioFile Earphones Awards. Here career spans film, television, theater, voice-overs, and animation. She has played critically acclaimed and award-winning theatrical roles on London’s West End and Off Broadway; acted in the features Lovewrecked and Flushed Away; and held a recurring role on ABC’s Lost.