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Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch) Paperback – October 1, 2013
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"Unexpected, compelling and very cool. Ann Leckie nails it...I've never met a heroine like Breq before. I consider this a very good thing indeed."―John Scalzi
"Ancillary Justice is the mind-blowing space opera you've been needing...This is a novel that will thrill you like the page-turner it is, but stick with you for a long time afterward."―io9.com (included in 'This Fall's Must-Read Science Fiction and Fantasy Books')
"It's not every day a debut novel by an author you'd never heard of before derails your entire afternoon with its brilliance. But when my review copy of Ancillary Justice arrived, that's exactly what it did. In fact, it arrowed upward to reach a pretty high position on my list of best space opera novels ever."―Liz Bourke
"Establishes Leckie as an heir to Banks and Cherryh."―Elizabeth Bear
"A double-threaded narrative proves seductive, drawing the reader into the naive but determined protagonist's efforts to transform an unjust universe. Leckie uses...an expansionist galaxy-spinning empire [and] a protagonist on a single-minded quest for justice to transcend space-opera conventions in innovative ways. This impressive debut succeeds in making Breq a protagonist readers will invest in, and establishes Leckie as a talent to watch."―Publishers Weekly
"By turns thrilling, moving and awe-inspiring."―The Guardian
"Leckie does a very good job of setting this complex equation up... This is an altogether promising debut."―Kirkus
"Using the format of SF military adventure blended with hints of space opera, Leckie explores the expanded meaning of human nature and the uneasy balance between individuality and membership in a group identity. Leckie is a newcomer to watch as she expands on the history and future of her new and exciting universe."―Library Journal
"Leckie's debut gives casual and hardcore sci-fi fans alike a wonderful read."―RT Book Reviews
"A sharply written space opera with a richly imagined sense of detail and place, this debut novel from Ann Leckie works as both an evocative science fiction tale and an involving character study...it's also a strongly female-driven piece, tackling ideas about politics and gender in a way that's both engaging and provocative...Ancillary Justice is a gripping read that's well worth a look."―SFX (UK)
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In addition to being extremely well written, there are so many dimensions to “Ancillary Justice” that it is easy to see why it won the Hugo award. On one level this is pure space opera- distant future, multi-world, heroic protagonist, conflict between good and evil, great emotion. On another, it also does what sci fi does at its best- pointing out the ambiguity in what is “good” or “evil” and the never ending conflict between the “haves” and the “have nots”. The later was a little too overt and on-the-nose for me which kept me from really loving the book.
Another dimension is the now famous use of pronouns. The dominant human culture’s language does not recognize gender and everyone is referred to as “she”. This may have given “Ancillary” a reputation as a “feminist” book but it most emphatically is not. Gender roles really aren’t the theme here (see above) it is much more subtle than that. As you’re reading you find yourself recognizing assumptions you’ve made about gender behaviors and subtext you add based on your own prejudices. This adds depth and makes the book more interesting but be warned- it also makes some things more difficult. I usually have at least a vague visualization of the characters but that’s hard to do when you have no idea of gender :)
“Ancillary Justice” kept me engrossed and once I adjusted to the pronoun issue, I couldn’t put it down. Although it can be read as a standalone, I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the trilogy.
If, like me, you've put off reading this book, don't. Get a copy and start now. I can be pretty sure you won't want to put it down and will be cranky with the people around you who interrupt your reading.
I won't give any spoilers. But I will say this: if you've been put off by the literary-minded comments about gender and society, intelligence, AI, politics, set-knowledge that this book has triggered, don't be. It's not a heavy-handed philosophical treatise.
Read it. You won't be sorry.
But her single-sexed Radch only serve to confuse characterization. Literally - I found it hard to keep who's who straight. It may be that Breq is intended to be an unreliable narrator with respect to sex roles, I'm not clear on that, or it may be that Radch citizens *are* all female, but Radch in leadership roles *appear* male (because of how they behave) to others (a la (or should I say "au") Estraven in the Left Hand of Darkness). Since Leckie basically does nothing with the all female empire concept, it's less of a concept - more of a conceit.
Some (many?) SF authors have problems with time, seeking to combine space-age technology with Middle Ages style lack of progress, and we see that weakness here. Breq/Toren's 2000 year lifespan seems pretty surprising for what is basically a piece of tech, and the reasons for Seivarden's 1000 year "ice nap" are somewhat unclear, as is her/his importance to the narrative. Sure, it's a coincidence (as many reviewers have noted) that Breq meets her old (very old) comrade a the start of the book, but is it an important one? Since Breq possesses quasi-superhero powers and is not averse (having lived 20 centuries) to playing the long game, it seems that Breq could have snagged an audience with the Emperor without the social cachet of her long lost acquaintance. Perhaps Leckie is making a point about Breq's basic "programming", and her need to serve humans, but it's not a clear one.
When you think of what Le Guin did in Left Hand of Darkness with ONE IDEA, just one idea, which she used to craft a classic tale the like of which the world had never seen before, you see that this book could have been better and that the praise for it is overblown. And if it seems unfair to compare this to a classic, remember this - I'm just comparing Hugo 1970 with Hugo 2014. Hugos ain't what they used to be.
Most recent customer reviews
Quick read, good characters and an intriguing plot.Read more
Was really looking for a good sci-fi page turner.
This is not that.