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Ancillary Justice

by Ann Leckie

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Imperial Radch (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,4793061,923 (4)1 / 528
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.
  1. 92
    The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (lquilter)
    lquilter: Fans of either Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness or Leckie's Ancillary Justice should enjoy the other. In common, the pacing, character-centered perspective obscuring aspects of the universe, political machinations, far-future setting, and treatment of ethics; also interesting for its simultaneous foregrounding and backgrounding of gender.… (more)
  2. 40
    All Systems Red by Martha Wells (chlorine)
    chlorine: Main protagonists are at least somewhat AI, and both books have a neutral take on gender.
  3. 40
    A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (g33kgrrl)
    g33kgrrl: Both books feature complex, political space sci-fi with amazing characters and world-building.
  4. 40
    Ghost Spin by Chris Moriarty (libron)
    libron: Ancillary Justice is great - but for a nuanced, riveting treatment of AI, Moriarty has her beat, hands down. I hope to see more rigorous explorations in future of what Leckie has limned in her first outing.
  5. 30
    Foreigner by C. J. Cherryh (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Leckie has said that Cherryh's Foreigner books were a big influence on Ancillary Justice and sequels
  6. 41
    Embassytown by China Miéville (electronicmemory)
  7. 30
    Ring of Swords by Eleanor Arnason (libron)
    libron: Arnason's depiction of an alternative (alien) gender/social structure is awesome. I hope Leckie can flesh her own ideas out further beyond pronoun ambiguity in forthcoming books.
  8. 20
    A Matter of Oaths by Helen S. Wright (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Some of the dynamics in Leckie's Ancillary Justice remind me of the much more obscure single-volume space opera Wright's A Matter of Oaths about two warring immortal emperors and a protagonist with a mysterious connection to them- if you like one, you may like the other.… (more)
  9. 20
    Fool's War by Sarah Zettel (Dilara86)
    Dilara86: Sentient AIs and spaceships
  10. 20
    A Fire upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge (electronicmemory)
  11. 31
    The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Both are optimistic space operas that focus on the characters and their relationships.
  12. 20
    The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Utterly different in tone, this also features the "mind" of a ship and the people she interacts with.
  13. 00
    Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones (CelestiaJK)
    CelestiaJK: Both have interesting AI themes and a great understanding of human nature.
  14. 00
    Worlds of Exile and Illusion: Three Complete Novels of the Hainish Series in One Volume--Rocannon's World; Planet of Exile; City of Illusions by Ursula K. Le Guin (sturlington)
  15. 00
    Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (souloftherose)
  16. 00
    Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (g33kgrrl)
  17. 00
    The Lazarus War: Artefact by Jamie Sawyer (dClauzel)
  18. 00
    Lock In by John Scalzi (sturlington)
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» See also 528 mentions

English (307)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (309)
Showing 1-5 of 307 (next | show all)
High concept: In the future, starships are run by AIs which also control dozens or more previously human bodies known as ancillaries. Occasionally, the ancillaries get ... detached. Ancillary Justice follows the story of one such.

It's a really neat concept and does a good job of carrying the story on its own. It does make it a bit confusing at times to figure out who exactly is talking; a situation that is compounded by the fact that the story line jumps between a few different timelines and characters (or at least versions of the same character). Ever few chapters I found myself taking a moment to figure out what's going on.

It also doesn't help understanding in that the characters have odd names, many of which are very similar. It's hard at times to remember who is who. On top of that, the various ancillaries of a ship sometimes go by the ship's name (either to themselves or to others), so they literally have the same name.

On top of that, the plot takes a bit to get going. Things are already happening from the very first part of the book, but you (in my case at least) only realize what's going on about halfway through the book. Once you do though... the repercussions are intense. Galaxy changing.

All together though, it does what sci fi does best: takes a crazy concept and builds out the possibilities there from. I look forward to seeing where it goes next in the sequels. ( )
  jpv0 | Jul 21, 2021 |
You know what, I can't do it. I need to wait, need some more time. This is a brilliant book, and a challenging one. I need to talk about gender and how this book handles it, but I need more time to think. I've already started the second so I'll wait until then. ( )
  allan.nail | Jul 11, 2021 |
My second reading ... and once again, I am very impressed by the author's detailed and delicate world-building, but this time (perhaps not quite so dazzled by the imaginative pyrotechnics) a little underwhelmed by the lack of a strong, clear subtext to it all. To steal shamelessly from Gertrude Stein, I didn't come away with a sense that there is any "there, there" ...

I should, first and foremost, say that I loved this, and I'm looking forward to reading the sequels. And, perhaps, having done the heavy lifting of world-building and situation-setting, just perhaps future volumes will free Leckie to do more with the world she has built, and the situation she has set up. Leckie is to be complimented for giving this novel a satisfying, self-contained plot, and not resorting to that cheapest of cheap tricks, the "who didn't see that coming?" cliffhanger.

Perhaps future volumes will be able to do more with Why should we care?, and Why does this matter?, having so vividly established the world and the challenging social hierarchy that face the former ancillary Breq and the aristocrat-fallen-on-hard-times Seivarden. Both are, in their different ways, very satisfyingly fish out of water characters: Breq is the drone zombie-soldier (an ancillary) who has reluctantly, painfully been cut adrift as an isolated, independent individual when its primary personality, the massive troop carrier Justice of Toren, is destroyed in a fiendish plot to take over the Radch Empire. Seivarden is an arrogant young officer who once served on Justice of Toren, who has been in stasis for a thousand years, lost in deepest space when her subsequent command was destroyed and her escape pod went missing. She has been revived in a universe where her wealth and family connections have all vanished, and everything in the Radch Empire has changed out of all recognition. (She can't even understand the accents in the new Radchaai world she has woken up into.) Breq, who has made it her life's work to get revenge for the destruction of her Justice of Toren "self," its ancillaries and crew, and in particular one young officer who was her favorite, finds Seivarden when this lost soul has almost succeeded in getting herself killed through a combination of heavy drugs and poor life choices. Breq saves her, for reasons that Breq herself doesn't really understand (constantly reminding herself, "she had never been one of my favorite officers ..."), and together, this odd couple makes its way toward a face-off with the Lord of the Radch who is (and isn't: it's complicated ...) responsible for all this.

I really loved this, and trying to sum up the plot in less than a billion words, and without serious spoilers, has just reminded me just what fun it was, and how wonderfully Leckie has created a world of horrors and wonders, big McGuffins and small intriguing details. This is the Roman Empire, meets Iain M. Banks' Culture novels, meets the Padishah Emperors of Dune, with an interesting bit of Ursula LeGuin's gender politics thrown in for good measure. This is Space Opera for the 21st Century, and it is rather wonderful.

BUT: I am holding fast with my 4-stars, because I still feel that Leckie isn't entirely in control of that (to me) all important question: what is it for? For Banks, it was the possibilities of true socialism in a post-scarcity culture, and the troubling ethics of doing bad things to achieve noble, admirable results. For Herbert, it was the environment, and the way that a back to basics, sustainable society might triumph over a high-tech, exploitative empire. For Leckie ... I'm not sure. But there are lots of great possibilities there, so I'll just have to see. ( )
  maura853 | Jul 11, 2021 |
AIs, spaceflight, and an empire that seems a cross between Roman and Chinese. All basic needs met, but human life valued very lightly much of the time. ( )
  jercox | Jun 2, 2021 |
I loved this book - it messed with my head, in a good way. It plays a lot with language, messing with social and gender constructs and even the concept of identity, to the extent that the main character sometimes has to clarify what she means when she said "I". But it pairs those challenging ideas with a compelling story, making it an excellent read. Confusing at times, but excellent. Highly recommended. ( )
  JoMiles | May 30, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 307 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ann Leckieprimary authorall editionscalculated
Andoh, AdjoaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Benshoff, KirkCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harris, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kempen, BernhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nunez, BillyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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For my parents, Mary P. and David N. Dietzler, who didn't live to see this book but were always sure it would exist.
First words
The body lay naked and facedown, a deathly gray, spatters of blood staining the snow around it.
Quotations
Surely it isn't illegal here to complain about young people these days? How cruel. I had thought it a basic part of human nature, one of the few universally practiced human customs.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

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.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren - a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance. - Goodreads.com
Haiku summary
It's alive... or dead.
A.I. or human? Who cares!
She, or he, is BREQ!
(pickupsticks)

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