Reviews and Features: Mieville’s Embassytown, Stacey Levine, John Scalzi, and More

A few links to features, interviews, and reviews of mine posted recently.

—A short review of Pascal Girard’s study in high school reunion embarrassment, Reunion. This is a graphic novel in the cringe-inducing mode of Ricky Gervais.

—A fun interview with John Scalzi about his new novel Fuzzy Nation that allows me to ask the immortal question “Why Fuzzy, why now?”

—An interview with one of my favorite short story writers Stacey Levine about her new collection The Girl With Brown Fur. Including Moonbounce.

—A review of China Mieville’s Embassytown is now up on the B&N Review site and also, oddly enough, the Christian Science Monitor. I thought a lot of it was brilliant, but a third of it was just moving people around the board in a not-well-thought-out way. I don’t like to talk in reviews about how an alternate version of a novel might have played out, but (1) keeping the past-present structure throughout, (2) not killing off a main human and a main alien character and replacing them with pale substitutes we don’t care about, and (3) making the viewpoint narrator’s function more central to the action of the last third would have fixed it all. That said, it’s got more cool ideas on one page than most SF novels have in 300, it’s incredibly imaginative, and the writing is top-notch. I’d rather have read this novel despite the flaws than any number of others.


  1. says

    I don’t know, after Perdido Street, I developed an irrational hatred toward Mieville. When I finished that book, I just felt angry. I trudged through those dense, ugly prose for THAT story? I was upset. Do I try to love again?

  2. Conor says

    Agree with those points, while Avice was much more interesting overall, the latter sections of this novel reminded me of the Scar… all of these big events are happening around the narrator but she’s getting most of it second hand. Fortunately that changed by the end, but for a sec there I was losing interest. Some sections were brilliant though. I thought Mieville’s description of Immersion was top notch, and the doppels were more disturbing than any of his monsters to date. Definitely his best work since Iron Council.

  3. Josep says

    Just finished reading Embassytown. Not a perfect novel, with ups and downs, and I’m still not sure I understood everything. But I can say I enjoyed every single page of it.