Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice

Book - 2013 | First edition
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Now isolated in a single frail human body, Breq, an artificial intelligence that used to control of a massive starship and its crew of soldiers, tries to adjust to her new humanity while seeking vengeance and answers to her questions.
Publisher: New York : Orbit, 2013
Edition: First edition
Characteristics: 409 pages ; 21 cm
ISBN: 9780316246620


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IndyPL_SteveB Apr 26, 2019

Incredibly original and creative science fiction novel which won both the Hugo Award and Nebula Award for Best Novel. You are just thrown into this future universe with little explanation; but once you get a little ways in and can start to appreciate what is going on, you can’t put it down.

Breq, apparently a well-trained soldier, is actually the last remaining “ancillary” of a space battle cruiser’s artificial intelligence. In this universe, technology allows the Radchaii military to remove the identity of captured enemies and turn them into extensions of the ships. Each ship has thousands of perfectly obedient ancillaries. But in this case, the ship was destroyed while this ancillary was disconnected from the main A.I.

Leckie examines what it might be like to be a small remnant of a larger mind and, since much of the story is told in flashback, we also see what it was like to have been a PART of that larger mind. The story is told in first person, which allows Leckie to write the story in multiple first person viewpoints of the same identity. One of the details I really liked is the vagueness of the genders of the characters. Because of different languages and cultural traditions, whether someone is identified as “male” or “female” in the use of pronouns depends on different things in different cultures. The reader cannot tell what gender we would use for any character, which is purposely disorienting.

This is the first of a series. It’s a GREAT start and should be on every SF reader’s short list to read.

Mar 15, 2019

#1- The Ancillary series

Dec 27, 2018

probs something SSC related

Sep 25, 2018

No wonder this work won the Nebula, and for a first-time author! It broke through walls in my mind that I didn't know existed, and creates an even stronger fabric in the ongoing tapestry of gender equality. Brilliantly portrays a more fully developed artificially intelligent being, while probing what it means to be human. Worth rereading the series.

Sep 14, 2018

I'm not entirely certain yet how I feel about this crafty novel. Despite space-focused sci-fi rarely being a genre I gravitate toward, I absolutely enjoyed and was entertained by it. However, due to its complex nature, I'm convinced that there were details or understandings that slipped by me, although maybe a re-read would increase my appreciation further. Definitely going to pick up book #2 in a month or two to see what happens next.

MWBalderstone Aug 15, 2018

Ann Leckie's debut novel is the only book to win all three of the Hugo Award for best novel, Nebula Award for best novel, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for best novel, and I can entirely understand why.

'Ancillary Justice' is an outstanding novel with fantastic characterization, well developed plot, and interesting conceptually. Conceptually, the novel serves as an interesting exploration into both gender and colonization through its various narrative devices; the characterization of the ancillary "corpse soldiers" was memorable and striking in particular.

Ultimately, a well worthy recipient of all its accolades and will serve as a benchmark for science-fiction in the 21st Century for years to come.

Feb 24, 2018

Ancillary Justice is a powerful experience to read. One of the most immersive parts is the book’s approach to gender and worldbuilding in general. All Radchaai citizens go by she/her pronouns and gender effectively does not exist (leading to some conundrums when Breq, on other planets, needs to appear non-Radchaai and has to figure out the concept of gender on the fly). As I read and found myself inadvertently gendering characters, this part of the book led to some interesting self-reflection. The worldbuilding around the concept of ancillaries are also fascinating: the Radchaai conquest formerly had an aim of collecting humans in suspended animation to later be ancillary bodies, with implants forced into them that effectively killed them and slaved their bodies to the AIs of ships; however, new reforms in the Radch have banned “manufacture” of ancillaries although ships continue to operate with ancillaries, which they consider parts of themselves and near-impossible to live without. The prose is also very sparse with just enough description to let you imagine a whole world outside the characters—think J.K. Rowling.

Ancillary Justice is highly acclaimed, but the plot itself is not the most compelling independently (the two sequels, Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy, fill in plot holes). I was compelled enough by the concept of ancillaries, Radchaai culture, and Breq’s character to keep reading, but if you can’t immerse yourself, the plot can seem to drag. If you can stick through it, though, the story picks up in the latter half/third and definitely gets better in the later books.

It’s not for everyone, but I definitely liked reading it and couldn’t put it down—I’m still rereading! Something about it struck a chord with me, though I can't put my finger on it. It's immersive and gorgeous, a space opera in every sense.

Dec 30, 2017

Brilliant book! It takes a lot of energy to read (you really are dropped into this world with characters unlike anything you've ever read before), but it's totally worth it.

BostonPL_LauraB Nov 29, 2017

I went in being pretty excited for this despite not reading much SF, and most of that was because it was supposed to be kind-of unique and also an award-winner. But what it was, was mostly very confusing for me. I do not have the mind for specific types of SF, and this was one of those. Weirdly though, I actually read the book decently fast, I just don't think I was absorbing much. So I'll just say that this wasn't my cup of tea, but others may like it.

Jul 09, 2017

I want to say that me not giving it a full five stars has a lot to do with the fact that my reading of the book was sort of unfortunately chopped up because of library return policies (which is my fault, not the library's!) But this book was such a rich world that I'm excited to explore more; I really felt immersed in it, and think Leckie did an amazing job conveying this experience that is in a lot of ways totally alien. I also think that the plot is so incredibly- how to articulate this. I really think that what she's set up is incredible because it's so not easy, and especially for Breq, there are things that are just out of her power even as much as they frustrated me. It's a sort of main character/hero that's unlike anything else I've encountered before, and it really challenged me as a reader in my reactions and understandings of the character, and how I felt about those actions over the course of the book. So, so impressed with that part of the storytelling, honestly.

I also wanna address the gender issue bc I think that was the reason I read this book in the first place (in addition to it being recommended to me by about 10,000 people): this book challenged my sense of gender so, so well; I was constantly reminding myself that despite the pronouns, I shouldn't be assuming the gender of the characters, and then doublechecking that assumption and going "no it's just that gender is fake" and that was really challenging but also exhilarating and exciting as a reader??? So like MORE OF THIS IN ALL GENRES OF FICTION PLEASE AND THANK YOU.

Overall I really really did like this book, and I am looking forward to more of this world and all of its intrigues!

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Feb 24, 2018

In the empire of the Radch, massive spaceships are powerful sentient AIs that operate armies of ancillaries, known as “corpse soldiers”—formerly human, now with implants that join many ancillaries together as part of their ship’s one mind, serving the Radch in its ever-expanding conquest of planetary system after system. Breq may look human, but she is a rare lone ancillary body from a long-destroyed ship. Thousands of years later, she remains disconnected from the majority of what she once was as the troop carrier Justice of Toren. Ancillary Justice follows two stories of Breq—first the story of how she as Justice of Toren was betrayed and reduced to her single body, then her quest for revenge, interrupted by an encounter with an officer who served on Justice of Toren in the distant past.


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Jul 11, 2016

"Without feelings insignificant decisions become excruciating attempts to compare endless arrays of inconsequential things. it's just easier to handle those with emotions." p.88


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