Embassytown by China Mieville

The children of the embassy all saw the boat land. Their teachers and shiftparents had had them painting it for days. One wall of the room had been given over to their ideas. It’s been centuries since any voidcraft vented fire, as they imagined this one doing, but it’s a tradition to represent them with such trails. When I was young, I painted ships the same way.

I looked at the pictures and the man beside me leaned in too. ‘Look,’ I said.

‘See? That’s you.’ A face at the boat’s window.

The man smiled. He gripped a pretend wheel like the simply rendered figure.

‘You have to excuse us,’ I said, nodding at the decorations.

‘We’re a bit parochial.’

‘No, no,’ the pilot said. I was older than him, dressed-up and dropping slang to tell him stories. He enjoyed me flustering him. ‘Anyway,’ he said, ‘that’s not…It is amazing though. Coming here. To the edge. With Lord knows what’s beyond.’ He looked into the Arrival Ball.

There were other parties: seasonals; comings-out; graduations and yearsends; the three Christmases of December; but the Arrival Ball was always the most important. Dictated by the vagaries of trade winds, it was irregular and rare. It had been years since the last.

China Mieville’s a big deal these days.

How big? The City & The City was nominated for almost every single genre award (and won many of them). Perdido Street Station was recently chosen by readers of Tor.com as one of the ‘Best SFF Novels of the Decade’ in a reader poll. But, perhaps the most damning evidence is a recent party thrown by Tor UK to celebrate… the announcement of new cover art for his old books.

Yeah. Not a new book announcement. Not a celebration of his success on the awards circuit. Not a milestone in his career. New book covers.

Hidden in amongst this ‘celebration’ were several bloggers and industry folk who, by attending the party, were able to acquire early galleys of Mieville’s hotly anticipated Embassytown, the author’s first foray into hard Space Opera. Jealous fits could be heard the world over from those fans who didn’t get a copy.

Well, it’s not a galley, but now Mieville fans can get an early glimpse of Embassytown courtesy of Pan Macmillan (Mieville’s UK publisher), who have made the prologue and Chapter One of Embassytown available on their website.