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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Ancillary Justice by Anne Lecke

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1)Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jacket blurb:  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 the 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.

From debut author Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice is a stunning space opera that asks what it means to be human in a universe guided by artificial intelligence.

This is a 2014 Hugo Nominee.  April's book group selection.

This is a book that has been getting a lot of publicity in the scifi community and was being touted as a strong Hugo contender.  It did in fact make the Hugo nominee short list.  Ultimately, I enjoyed this book because it was different.

I'm going to start with the item that has the internet world abuzz: Leckie's use of gender or non-gender.  The society the characters are moving around in is portrayed as non-gendered through the use of "she".   And here's were my issue with the book comes in - in a genderless society,  everyone is now "feminine".  So, how can this be a genderless society?   I think I would have been more comfortable with some alternate or created term to denote who was being ta.lked to, rather than the vague unsettled feeling that everyone was female.

On, there is a great post regarding gender here.

Setting the use of gender aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the idea of a ship persona in multiple bodies - avatars - or in Leckie's case, ancillaries.  I thought she did a great job of portraying these massive ships through the eyes of One Esk Seventeen.  How One Esk Twenty was over by the water fountain, how One Esk Eleven was walking down a street, how the bodies within sight line could see each other.

I enjoyed how One Esk Seventeen could convey emotion at being cut off from her greater whole.  How she/the ship had developed a greater personality through the ancillaries.  How her uniqueness, ultimately, led to a betrayal of sorts.

While the reader got an idea of the greater society, there are glimpses of a smaller planetary society being absorbed into the greater, and how a clash of cultures even in this advanced society can cause discomfort, unease, and disdain.  

For a first book (I think this is a first book?) it was interesting, engaging, had a few flaws, and engendered discussion.  Recommended.

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