PositiveThe New York Times Sunday Book ReviewLike all of Miéville’s additions to the literary atlas, this place seems at once wildly imagined from scratch and phantasmagorically drawn from life … Language is the principal theme of Embassytown, a particularly deep-thinking entry in a tradition of using the speculative resources of science fiction to address how language shapes culture and society. Miéville joins Jack Vance, Robert Heinlein, Ursula K. Le Guin, Suzette Haden Elgin, Samuel Delany and others in this project. The drama of Embassytown develops as the Ariekei learn to lie and are beset by violent addiction to a new kind of speech … Embassytown has the feel of a word-puzzle, and much of the pleasure of figuring out the logic of the world and the story comes from gradually catching the full resonance of its invented and imported words.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThere’s a wealth of information about everything from meteorites to shrapnel in this book, but you read an essayist like Frazier primarily for the encounter between his sensibility and the world. Observation backed up by research and marinated in rumination and wordcraft produces lines freighted with insight ... Frazier doesn’t insist on a perfect roundedness of form in his essays. Rather than arranging every last element for maximum thematic coherence and effect, he’ll leave in a moment, a scene, seemingly for the hell of it...Frazier’s tendency to leave things a little baggy, in combination with his commitment to understatement, sometimes crowds out the point of the shorter pieces, which can seem willfully slight. But on the whole it serves to reinforce his great meta-theme. He’s not hauling out some bag of essayistic tricks to force the world to seem interesting, beautiful or weird. It just is.