Embassytown, part 3: A little bit more
Posted May 28, 2011on:
Apparently it’s China Mieville love fest week on LRR this week. You cool with that? Cuz I’m cool with that.
it’s been a few days since I finished the book, and I’m having trouble getting it out of my mind. or getting my mind out of it? Having a bit of an Alice in Wonderland moment, I’m not quite sure which way ’round that goes. Anywhoo, I’ve got a bit more I’d like to get off my chest regarding Embassytown, Mieville, aliens, sound, and such.
Also there may be some spoilers here, so if you haven’t read the book, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
After today I should have Embassytown out of my system, mostly.
the Aliens – never really physically described, the Ariekei’s eye stalks, wings, fans, and scuttly insecty feet are mentioned. Sounds rather Lovecraftian, doesn’t it? Are they simply putting up with the human colony? Do they see us as interesting animals? Do they see us as intelligent? A novelty? I wonder what they think about our technology, computers, electronics, etc. Because the Ariekei don’t really have anything like that – everything they use is bio-tech, everything is grown, and I get the impression has naturally evolved that way. These creatures are so utterly alien, how fucking arrogant are we to think for one damn second that we understand anything about them? which leads me to wonder: how damn arrogant am I, to think that I understand anything about, really, just about anything? I don’t need a universe at my fingertips to feel small. this is a good thing.
And is there anything more science fictional that aliens who are so un-human, so completely different than anything we imagined we could encounter? China Mieville, is there anything you can’t do?
The Plot – Some reviewers have complained that Mieville drops in characters and subplots that are never heard from again, or only show up as plot devices. I can’t argue with them, because YES, it happens. But I’m not the kind of reader who insists on having everything explained. I didn’t mind that sublots came and went and maybe weren’t concluded. that gave me opportunity to put my own endings in, explain things my own way, almost turn Embassytown (the book and the place) into my own private PRG where I can have my own adventures and conversations. When a novel turns into a world you want to play in, to me, that’s a damn success. I can only hope that Mieville will write more in this universe, like he did with his Bas-Lag novels.
The Addiction – ahh yes, the sounds, and the addiction. All I’m going to say is that I can 100%, competely, unquestioningly, sympathize with the idea of getting drunk on a sound. Drunk is the wrong word of course, but I often listen to TV shows more closely than I actively watch them. If I find a voice I like, I hear that voice itself (the vibrations, the tone, the timbre, the sounds) more than I listen to what’s being said. Often times I just want that voice, that sound: I don’t care what the words are, I just want my fix. when I joke that all someone needs to do is read the phone book to me, I’m really not joking. More than once have I said to someone whose voice I like “just talk to me. I don’t give a shit what you say, just talk”.