Home Review: Embassytown

Review: Embassytown

Embassytown is the best book I’ve read in a while. It successfully builds an interesting world by gradually giving the user new information, while working the narrative. The setting for the book is paradoxical. “Homo Diaspora” has emerged as humanity has spread wide across the know universe. However, the primary setting is an enclosed area on a planet with a toxic atmosphere. The humans are trapped within it’s small confines. Also, ships can travel faster than light through the “immer” (which is a cool concept on it’s own). This allows humanity to spread even beyond the Milky Way, but also means that people can’t call ahead. When a ship arrives at a planet, they can’t guarantee what they’ll find. The “Big Idea” in the story revolves around an interesting conception of the connection between language and thought. This avoids the issues of credibility that Snow Crash runs headlong into, by positing a unique alien species. Thus the plot revolves around the aliens discovery acquisition of new linguistic and cognitive abilities and issues that they create. I got the impression from the book that the reader is meant to find the human, or Terre, society almost as Alien (Host, or Arieke). There are reactionaries and revolutionaries in both the , or Terre and Host communities. And misunderstanding and miscalculations lead to conflict. The resolution of the story is interesting and satisfying. Society and individual characters go into the crucible, and come out changed in the end.