Sunday Reviews: Strange vocabulary and killer robots

This post is more than 2 years old.

I've recently completed two incredible books I thought I'd review today. As always I'm curious to see what others think so if you have read these as well, definitely chime in. I've also got two super quick video game reviews at the very bottom. Enjoy.

The first book is the latest by China MiƩville, an author I've mentioned a few times here. He is - to me - the most interesting writer alive today. That isn't to say every book is a winner - but at minimum - every single one of his books is just plain unique. His previous book, Kraken, was a bit of a disappointment. It was definitely interesting but it didn't really grab me. Embassytown was like a slap in the face. I'll be honest and say I'm not sure I even understood it completely. The core concept of the book involves an embassy (no big surprise) on an alien planet. What makes this book so freaky is the description of the alien's language. I don't want to ruin it for you so I'll keep it vague. But when you finally begin to understand how these creatures communicate and why it was so difficult for the humans to speak to them you will truly be surprised. One of the complaints you hear about Sci Fi is how simplistic alien cultures are described some times. What China has created here is the most unique view of a species that I've ever encountered. The book can be a bit of a struggle to go through at times - but it's well worth the effort.

Robopocalypse, or the book I hate to spell, is a much simpler read than Embassytown, but is no less interesting. Written in the same fashion at World War Z, the book presents multiple short takes of a greater story involving a robot uprising. I really enjoy this style of writing as it gives you a much broader view of an event. The book is basically a more involved, more intelligent version of the Terminator series. Unlike Terminator though you get a much deeper look at the robot's point of view. There's some truly cool, and chilling, parts to this book. Apparently the movie is already in the works and I can't wait to see how they visualize some of the robots.

And finally - I recently finished Crysis 2. I never played 1 and I really felt kind of lost. Maybe I should have read the instructions. That being said, the game has some pretty incredibly graphics and is fun to play. It seemed to have a pretty long single player campaign too. I just started Vanquish, which is pretty similar so far (guy in suit theme), although it's much more "acarde-y", not that there's anything wrong with that. I started on LA Noir too - but will save my thoughts on that for later.

Oh - and currently I'm reading Stephen King's "Just After Sunset." I wanted a collection of short stories so I could stop reading once the new Game of Thrones novel comes out on Tuesday (just in time for vacation).

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About Raymond Camden

Raymond is a senior developer evangelist for Adobe. He focuses on document services, JavaScript, and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support. You can even buy me a coffee!

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Archived Comments

Comment 1 by Brian Swartzfager posted on 7/11/2011 at 12:39 AM

Your review of "The City & The City" introduced me to China MiƩville, and I agree that he's a really unique writer and his books can be challenging reads. I was thinking about picking up "Embassytown": might do that later this summer after getting through "A Dance with Dragons"

Comment 2 by Pete posted on 10/9/2012 at 4:11 PM

I bought both these books a year ago based on this post. Only just got round to reading Robopocalypse, and I can't put it down, it's brilliant. I wish I'd read it sooner.

The way it's written reminds me of "A record of the year of infection", the way it's pieced together.

Comment 3 by Raymond Camden posted on 10/9/2012 at 5:44 PM

They are making a movie out of it and I hope they do it justice.