This is the blurb:
Embassytown: a city of contradictions on the outskirts of the universe.
Avice is an immerser, a traveller on the immer, the sea of space and time below the everyday, now returned to her birth planet. Here on Arieka, humans are not the only intelligent life, and Avice has a rare bond with the natives, the enigmatic Hosts – who cannot lie.
Only a tiny cadre of unique human Ambassadors can speak Language, and connect the two communities. But an unimaginable new arrival has come to Embassytown. And when this Ambassador speaks, everything changes.
Catastrophe looms. Avice knows the only hope is for her to speak directly to the alien Hosts.
And that is impossible.
The back cover also spoke in glowing terms of CM's impressive intellect and originality.
Sadly, I didn't think so.
As I read, I felt two things:
- I've heard this all before,
- The Emperor's New Clothes. ie Was there really anything there?
The 'Immer': sub-space, hyper-space, whatever, it's been done.
Growing machines etc.: Videodrome or Warhammer 20K anyone?
Doppelgangers talking and acting as one: how about the two headed dragon in Quest for Camelot, or Paul Merton's Ian and Duncan Smith?
The whole 'language' thing brought Jack Vance's The Languages of Pao (first published in 1958, cripes!) to mind
Not exactly the same, granted, but close enough for me to want to tear off the 'original' tag.
Despite this - plus some strange inconsistencies I wont nitpick about - I liked the story. It had a beginning, a middle and a satisfying conclusion. [Strained metaphor alert!] It was a tasty fajita: a spicy filling wrapped in a tortilla made from flour ground by hand, over a shoe shop in Bradford, by Inuit cobblers high on marmalade. Unusual, yes. But it still tasted very familiar.
I've loved most of CM's work: King Rat, Perdido Street Station, The Scar (up until the end anyway), Looking for Jake and Other Stories etc., and will continue to be excited as each new work is released, but this one did not live up to the hype for me.
Can you see the Emperor's Clothes?
Read it. Tell me what you think.