by China Mieville
China Mieville is the novelist many believe will take science fiction into the mainstream. His early books, Perdido Street Station and The Scar, were extraordinary combinations of fantasy, history, epic and purple prose that helped create the genre known as Steampunk.
After detours via young adult fiction (Un Lun Dun) and inventive, but realistic works (The City and the City and Kraken), Mieville's seventh novel returns him to his origins: as an inventor of universes and language. 'Embassytown: a city of contradictions on the outskirts of the universe. [Our heroine] Avice is an immerser, a traveller on the immer, the sea of space and time below the everyday, now returned to her birth planet.' Initially, this is confusing. But slowly, we learn. Embassytown exists on the planet Arieka, populated by an odd race (Ariekei) who only speak the literal truth. Until they meet human beings, that is, and become addicted to metaphors and irony - or lies.
Mieville's prose is filled with puns, neologisms and meditations on art, culture and language. Ambitious, brilliant and thrilling.