Even as the basic premise of Miéville’s Embassytown is unbelievable I am glad that I decided to read the book, because one of the things that can make science fiction a rewarding genre to read is how exploration of a totally off concept can result in something fascinating.
In Embassytown Miéville takes the common sciencefictional idea of a humanity evolved so far out in space and time that the planet Earth is but an idea, so far way to be lost, spatially. He then takes a shard of this humanity and places it on a distant border, holed up in a precious balancing act with a species that doesn’t communicate in any way that makes sense to this humanity.
Can a species evolve and become advanced while at the same time lack the ability to talk about and imagine future? Isn’t the idea of “future” predicated on an ability to understand there’s a “past”? Can a species that can’t imagine or talk about what doesn’t exist even develop in any meaningful way? Isn’t that one of the things that has made humanity kings of this planet (excepting weather and other natural forces, but please don’t get picky here, OK)?
And what happens when such a people encounter a species who do talk about and imagine the unbelievable?
Highly imaginative, evoking thought, Embassytown is a book I would recommend to anyone who enjoy intellectual acrobatics, challenging set ideas. Even if it took about a month to et to the point where this review could actually get written ;-)