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Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie
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PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2014 7:56 pm    Post subject: Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie Reply with quote

I think this book needs to get its own topic, given the way things are going.

Winner of the BSFA Award for Best Novel (tied), the Kitschies' Golden Tentacle for debut novel, the Clarke Award, and shortlisted for both the Nebula and the Hugo, Ancillary Justice is clearly the hot book of this year.

I've written a little about the novel elsewhere.

The spaceship Justice of Toren has been destroyed, but the ship's mind continues in the body of its only surviving Ancillary - a kind of human drone fully controlled by the ship in a hive mind - named Breq. Ancillary Justice is the story of Breq attempting to find out why this happened, and take her revenge.

One of the most notable things about the book is its use of gender: As a non-human from a society whose language uses no gendered words, Breq refers to all characters using female pronouns, and it is occasionally a plot point that she has difficulty identifying the gender of other characters. It's an interesting technique that highlights a lot of the assumptions the reader brings into the book.

The main point I want to make, though, is that Ancillary Justice is a very good book, and you should really check it out. It is on its way to sweeping up every major SF award out there.

Has anyone else read it yet?
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PostPosted: Fri May 02, 2014 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will strongly consider it.

It sounds a lot like The Culture, by the way.
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PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep, read it awhile back. Said the following in another thread:
Quote:
Ancilliary Justice is an interesting book with some good ideas. It has good pace. Unusually, it is maybe a bit too short. There are a couple of more books to follow which may fill in the gaps left, but I feel that those books are at the expense of the first one. Usually my complaint is that too little happens in the first book; that the story is being artificially stretched over three (or more! Confused) books. Here, it feels like some of the backstory and exposition were held back. The problem, as I see it, is that the key emotional peak is reached in the first book (which makes it good!) which means it is unlikely that the following books will be able to match it. Still, it's definitely worth a read.

I haven't thought much about it since. I wouldn't feel that it is really analogous to the Culture, more core differences than similarities. Good book though and I'd highly recommend it to anyone.

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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 1:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm a third through it. Not bad, even though not exciting. The whole premise is interesting. But I honestly have no idea which characters are male and which are female. I know I have many blind spots in my reading. I've asked Malazan questions after third readings that should've been obvious on the first. So maybe this is another instance of me being too dense to know what the hell's going on. But seriously, I have no idea.
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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's the idea, generally. The characters' gender isn't really relevant, and you really can't tell once the signifiers are removed from the language.

I can only think of a few characters whose gender is revealed (other than smaller roles where Breq's confusion was a plot point) - Seivarden was explicitly male, Breq is referred to as female once, the high priest in Ors has a beard, and someone refers to Anaander Mianaai as male at one point but it's not clear if they're just assuming the leader of the Radch would be.
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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, that's about how I've been taking it; that it really doesn't matter. Sometimes I think of X as male, and sometimes as female.
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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found I generally pictured everyone as female except for Seivarden and the bearded Priest.
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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 10:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And heck, some women have beards. *nyuk nyuk*
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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember the gender thing being a bit disorientating at first. The main character (Breq?) comes across as female, but she is so powerful that obviously male characters are placed in a passive position relative to her (making them come across as female to my eyes, at any rate).

In some ways it can seem a bit gimmicky (an AI that can't tell the difference between males and females!?) but overall it adds a nice odd slant to the whole story that reflects the experience of the AI slowly sliding into a more human relation to the world.

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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Leckie had some fun playing with our perceptions of Breq. Like the way it's revealed late on that she is the ancillary with the damaged voice (the one unthawed shortly before Justice of Toren made its fatal jump, chosen to spite One Esk), which changes the way you see the parts of the book where Seivarden reacts to her singing.
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PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2014 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was given the book as a gift, but I haven't read it yet.
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2014 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So yeah, a good book. I enjoyed it. Definitely different. Interesting version of humanity's future. I hope the next books give some more info about the aliens.
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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ancillary Justice has now won the Nebula Award for Best Novel.
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PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow. I don't usually read winners until I'm looking at the lists years later. Laughing Congrats to her.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2015 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am really liking this book, I got about a hundred pages left before I can move on to the sequel.

One criticism I have had with recent fiction seems to be this focus on first-person narrative. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I prefer third-person. With the way the AIs work, you actually get both at the same time! I mean, holy cow! The part of me that likes techniques is giddy over those parts.

As far as gender, I came to the conclusion that it did not really matter unless some plot point involved reproduction. Turns out that, because of the technology, it does not matter than either. And unlike in Locked-In, there isn't really any "gendered" names so that you can pretty much choose what gender, if any, the characters are for the most part.

Spoiler:
I also love that Anaander Mianaai's split personality is such a great example of "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss".

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PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2015 1:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm Murrin wrote:
I found I generally pictured everyone as female except for Seivarden and the bearded Priest.


Same, though I'm really on the fence about Skaaiat Awer - I think I pictured her as female for the first half of the book and male for the second half, and I'm really not sure what changed my mind.

Anyway, just finished and looking forward to starting the next one.
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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wishing I'd read this a year ago when there was discussion going on, because I have a lot of questions/speculation/etc. In short, it's been very thought-provoking. A lot of it may be answered after I read the next book, and some of the speculation is probably not relevant to anything important anyway.
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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorus wrote:
I'm Murrin wrote:
I found I generally pictured everyone as female except for Seivarden and the bearded Priest.


Same, though I'm really on the fence about Skaaiat Awer - I think I pictured her as female for the first half of the book and male for the second half, and I'm really not sure what changed my mind.

I liked how Leckie actually managed to have a sex scene between the two lieutenants without giving anything away.
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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2015 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorus wrote:
Wishing I'd read this a year ago when there was discussion going on, because I have a lot of questions/speculation/etc. In short, it's been very thought-provoking. A lot of it may be answered after I read the next book, and some of the speculation is probably not relevant to anything important anyway.

Speculate away! I reread the book not that long ago and it's still fresh enough in my mind, and Murrin is obviously well on top of it. We'll try to avoid any spoilers Laughing

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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2015 12:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure what I should spoiler, so I will spoiler everything.

Spoiler:
Is Anaander Mianaai an AI? Her bodies are described as being 'genetically identical,' but the hive-mind aspect seems like an AI. Are her segments born into the hive-mind, or are they connected later? If they're clones, are they artificially created in a lab or something similar, or born to surrogates?



Like I said, probably not really relevant to the story, but the sort of thing I think about.


I'm Murrin wrote:
Sorus wrote:
I'm Murrin wrote:
I found I generally pictured everyone as female except for Seivarden and the bearded Priest.


Same, though I'm really on the fence about Skaaiat Awer - I think I pictured her as female for the first half of the book and male for the second half, and I'm really not sure what changed my mind.

I liked how Leckie actually managed to have a sex scene between the two lieutenants without giving anything away.


I'm still wondering if the characters are truly androgynous in the author's mind.

I think it will take a reread for me to pinpoint when my perception of Skaaiat shifted - I was picturing her as female at that point, and I think until sometime on the Station.
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