wow wow wow! I've become a China Mieville fan this year and loved this book! Mieville starts with a normalish sci-fi concept: colonizers versus indigenous aliens and the conflicts mistaken understanding can create. however, the aliens and the average humans literally cannot speak to each other. The aliens have 2 mouths, both of which are required to speak their language. To make things more complicated, the aliens can also somehow sense intent, so just having 2 humans speak half the words at the same time doesn't work. The colonizers end up creating clones that are enough alike psychically that the aliens can understand them. Also, the aliens can't lie, and don't have any sort of imaginative capability. They can't say "I'm worn out", they would have to say something like "i am like the shoes have been walked in for 100 miles". The narrator is a woman, Avice, who is a living simile for the aliens. She is "the girl who was hurt in darkness and ate what was given to her" which meant she had to, at one point, be that person. There's some space jaunts early on, lots of interesting bio-technology hybrid things, and gobs of politics. I really loved it.
so, even if you aren't a fan of sci-fi, you may enjoy this book for the politics and philosophy of language. a 7 from me!