Just a quick link to my review of China Miéville’s Embassytown in this morning’s Weekend Australian. As the review hopefully makes clear, I think it’s Miéville’s best book by some distance: brilliantly conceived, powerfully imagined, thrillingly fertile, and while I do think there’s a slight slackening in the second half, when the narrative frame opens out to take in the large-scale breakdown of the society it depicts, the first half is so good it hardly matters. All of which is a roundabout way of saying just read it, it’s fabulous.
If you’d like to know more about the book you might want to check out Justine Jordan’s profile of Miéville in last week’s Guardian, or my reviews of his last two novels, Kraken and The City and the City. And I know I’ve linked to it before, but if you’re interested you can also read an excerpt from the first chapter on the Tor website.
Apologies for the extended break in transmission, which is attributable to too much travel, too much work and a week in bed with some kind of virus. Since I’m still trying to get the edits on Black Friday done and finish a story for a collection that will be out later this year, as well as trying to catch up on all the work that didn’t get done while I was away and sick, things might stay a little quiet around here for a few weeks. But I’ll definitely be getting a few things up, in particular a piece on Wayne Levin’s gorgeous new book, Akule, which I reread over the weekend, and is simply amazing.
In the meantime, you might want to check out my review of Carol Birch’s Jamrach’s Menagerie, which appeared in The Weekend Australian on Saturday. I have to confess to not having read Birch before, but there’s a lot to like in this one (not surprisingly it’s recently turned up on the longlist for this year’s Orange Prize), not least the way it manages to eschew the fairly prosaic mode of much historical fiction in favour of something much more vivid and particular. Spookily it’s also a riff on the wreck of the Whaleship Essex, a story I was complaining was following me around just the other day.
Further afield Faber have uploaded a terrific recording of Willy Vlautin reading a new story based on the characters from Lean on Pete, which comes complete with music by Richmond Fontaine. And if you’re looking for reading matter I can thoroughly recommend both Lauren Beukes’ Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlisted Zoo City (urban fantasy, set in South Africa, with gangsters, guns and muti), which is both very stylish and a lot of fun (you can read the first chapter online) and China Mieville’s new one, Embassytown, which is out soon (I’m reviewing it, so I can’t say much beyond it’s one of the best things I’ve read in quite a while). Again the first chapter is available online.
And finally, I know it’s been out for a while, but this track from The Duke and the King’s new one, Long Live the Duke and the King, still rocks my world.