Ancillary Justice — Latest Read

My latest read was Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. This was Leckie’s debut novel and the first in her Imperial Radch space opera trilogy. It was published in 2013. It won the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke awards. This is how it wound up on my TBR bookshelf.

Ancillary Justice is a space opera set thousands of years in the future. The expansionist Radch empire dominates human space. The empire uses space ships controlled by AIs who use human bodies know as ancillaries as soldiers. The AI’s consciousness is extends across the ship and the ancillaries. The narrative begins twenty years after the disappearance one of these ships, the Justice of Toren. The story is told from the perspective of a sole surviving ancillary known as Breq. The plot switches between the present day and twenty years earlier before the Justice of Toren disappears.

The story leverages classic space opera tropes including the “evil empire” and a hero “striving for justice.” Leckie’s world building, story line and characters were engaging enough, but the book doesn’t seem to live up to the hype.

Leckie did permeate the story with a “cultural gimmick” that probably drove the excitement. Leckie’s Radchaai do not distinguish people by gender. The author used “she” as the pronoun for all the characters. She had the main characters struggle to guess, frequently incorrectly, when they have to use languages with gender-specific pronouns. This probably seemed “groundbreaking” a decade ago. It added nothing to the story for me.

I can’t make much of a recommendation for Ancillary Justice. Have to think about whether rest of the series will be worth a read.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie Cover

Ancillary Justice

Anne Leckie

On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.

Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was Justice of Toren–a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.

An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose–to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.

Released October 1, 2013
416 pages

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