Embassytown by China Miéville China Miéville is an author with lots of readers who will just buy everything with his name on it. He gets all the prestigious awards and he is very visible in the field of SF/F. It's almost intimidating – how high should the expectations be on a new Miéville book? Still, I'm not disappointed. He has changed tracks again, after the strange fantasy setting of the Bas-Lag books (Perdido Street StationThe ScarIron Council), the inverted backside of London in Un Lun Dun, and the weird noir of The City and the City (I'm not saying anything about Kraken, which I haven't read yet). In Embassytown we get the first China Miéville science fiction, and it is a real treat.

I remember thinking, long ago when I read it, that Perdido Street Station had a sort of science fiction sensibility to it. Embassytown fits very well with Miévilles other work, and we get many of the things we usually expect in his stories, such as monstrous beings. This time they are aliens – exots – that are called Hosts by the humans of Embassytown. Some of the strangest extraterrestrials in all of fiction, beings very different from humans and difficult to understand. This, of course, is the cause of severe cultural clashes and potential disaster. The town itself is a colourful and weird setting, and the hints about the alien architecture and technology makes very strange pictures in my head.

Perdido Street Station by China Miéville The Scar by China Miéville Iron Council by China Miéville 

Another thing we have learned to expect from China Miéville is mastery of language. I tend to be sort of insensitive to the fine nuances in style when I read in English, but with some authors I can tell that I like how they use their language. Miéville is good at making the words work with the story. Now, this is not only a book with nice English, it's also about languages.

Un Lun Dun by China Miéville City and the City by China Miéville Kraken by China Miéville

I don't think I give away too much if I reveal that this novel belongs in a proud tradition of linguistic SF. I'm not sure that the specific linguistic inventions that the plot is centered around are even theoretically possible, but that's hardly relevant. It works in the story, and perhaps also as a way to illustrate some deeper thoughts about language and mind.

If you already like China Miéville, you will want to read this one too. If you haven't read anything by him, you can start with Embassytown – especially if you like SF with very different extraterrestrials, or stories where everything depends on learning and understanding something that is deeply mysterious. A good thing is also that the book is shorter than some of his other ones, so it's not a major investment of time to actually read it.