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Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch) by Ann…

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch) (edition 2013)

by Ann Leckie (Author)

Series: Imperial Radch (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,0652872,097 (4)1 / 518
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.
Title:Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch)
Authors:Ann Leckie (Author)
Info:Orbit (2013), Edition: Later Printing, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:science fiction

Work details

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

  1. 81
    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
    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.
  3. 40
    Embassytown by China Miéville (electronicmemory)
  4. 30
    All Systems Red by Martha Wells (chlorine)
    chlorine: Main protagonists are at least somewhat AI, and both books have a neutral take on gender.
  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. 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.
  7. 20
    Fool's War by Sarah Zettel (Dilara86)
    Dilara86: Sentient AIs and spaceships
  8. 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.
  9. 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)
  10. 20
    A Fire upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge (electronicmemory)
  11. 20
    A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (g33kgrrl)
    g33kgrrl: Both books feature complex, political space sci-fi with amazing characters and world-building.
  12. 21
    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.
  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
    Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (g33kgrrl)
  16. 00
    Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (souloftherose)
  17. 00
    The Lazarus War: Artefact by Jamie Sawyer (dClauzel)
  18. 00
    Lock In by John Scalzi (sturlington)

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» See also 518 mentions

English (286)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (288)
Showing 1-5 of 286 (next | show all)
Terrific. Yes, at first, somewhat offputting with regards to gender (I would have been okay with "they/them" throughout, but "she" was just as annoying as "he" would have been), but once I was used to it I could settle in more, and it was a great story--fresh, inventive, a marvelous piece of world(s) building, a star-in-the-making protagonist (I mostly pictured Janet "not a girl") from The Good Place), and it didn't suffer from excess-stupid-nameitis which has derailed many an SF or fantasy novel for me. You know the type: "Galahedron polished her sxcizitar, the main musical instrument from her home planet of Kqath, while eyeing Commander Blitis warily," I just can't read that stuff. Luckily, it usually signifies badly-written books, so I'm well-spared. This is not that.

Have already arranged for book 2 in the series. What a wonderful surprise, so early this year.

(Note: 5 stars = amazing, wonderful, 4 = very good book, 3 = decent read, 2 = disappointing, 1 = awful, just awful. I'm fairly good at picking for myself so end up with a lot of 4s). I feel a lot of readers automatically render any book they enjoy 5, but I grade on a curve! ( )
  ashleytylerjohn | Oct 13, 2020 |
A pretty fun read, and also one of the most-discussed SF books I've seen in a while: worth the read just to be able to talk about it in the community.

Everyone's obviously talking about the gender issue (or more properly non-issue), which I found extremely successful in two ways. It's a proof-of-concept that you can have a genderless space opera that works just fine. And it's a way to get readers to notice and think (and in many cases argue!) about their gender assumptions. Personally I was really kind of floored when I realized I didn't know and wasn't going to find out the "real" gender of all these characters called "her"; made me think about my assumptions a lot.

As SF though it's not terribly...rigorous, even "softer" than most space opera--don't expect explanations of how any of the technology works, even when it seems pretty story-relevant. A lot of magitech, in other words.

This was a selection for Phandemonium and the Blackstone SF/F book clubs (click links for meeting notes), and an upcoming selection for Think Galactic. ( )
  jakecasella | Sep 21, 2020 |
Needlessly confusing language about ships and titles, so much so that I almost stopped reading. But then I missed the story so picked it up again via audiobook, and loved it overall. Still think I don't totally understand what a "justice", "mercey" is. More in the confusion and some guesses here: https://www.goodreads.com/questions/1376602-i-m-half-way-through-the-book-though... ( )
  jzacsh | Sep 9, 2020 |
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie has been on my "To Read" list since it swept all of the major SF awards last year. I enjoyed it tremendously.

This is old-fashioned space opera, reminiscent of the classics of the Golden Age. Unlike a lot of modern space opera (which I adore, for the record) Ms. Leckie is less concerned with the technology that makes galaxy- and time-spanning civilization possible and offers us a story focused on character and plot.

There can be a fine line between a work that makes purposeful use of genre tropes and one which is merely derivative. In the case of Ancillary Justice, compelling arguments have been made on both sides. The distinction depends largely on how kind the reader wants to be.

Because I enjoyed this novel as much as I did, I choose to believe that Ms. Leckie uses genre tropes intentionally.

At heart, Ancillary Justice is a revenge yarn. The plot jumps back and forth between the present and the past, developing backstory in parallel with the main plot. This narrative structure is very effective, revealing the central mystery of the main character's motivation a little bit at a time, on an as-needed basis. It allows Ms. Leckie to keep the tension elevated throughout the novel.

On the other hand, there are times when I felt like exchanges between characters leave a tad too much unsaid. But I also never felt that I was missing any important information, so this shouldn't be taken as too substantial a criticism.

The central conceit of the novel is wonderful. Telling the story from the first-person perspective of a character who's the AI of a colossal starship now trapped in a single human body, and the reality of a world where a single mind can occupy multiple bodies simultaneously, allows the author to explore the nature of what it means to be human—even what it means to be an individual—from a unique perspective. This elevates the work to something more than just a revenge yarn.

Unlike a lot of Golden Age space opera, Ms. Leckie's character development is top notch. The characters she presents in Ancillary Justice are fascinating, nuanced individuals, products of their culture and upbringing while also rebelling against the limitations imposed on them. These are complex and believable people.

The setting Ms. Leckie created for the novel is fairly standard as galactic empires go. She adds the twist of making religion central to it and the story spends most of its time on worlds at the edges of so-called civilization. She explores the possibilities of language—the difficulty of mutual comprehension—in a way that most space opera ignores.

My favorite thing about Ancillary Justice is how Ms. Leckie handles gender. She makes gender a defining characteristic of these far-future cultures, addressing it through language, behavior, and clothing. In this way, it reminds me a bit of some of Ursula K. Le Guin's work. Throughout, the default pronoun for all people—male and female alike—is "her". I find that the feminine pronoun frees the work to some degree from ingrained cultural biases and encourages a greater freedom of imagination in the reader.

If I have one quibble with the book, it's the names of the characters. One of the big challenges of writing SF is coming up with names for characters, races, empires, etc., that sound futuristic and quasi-alien but are still believably natural. Ms. Leckie misses the mark in this novel—the names she came up with are a bit too self-conscious in their "science fiction"-ness. They're not so bad, though, as to impede my enjoyment.

Ancillary Justice is fine space opera and a worthy beginning to a proposed trilogy of novels. It manages to be both pleasingly old-fashioned and meaningfully innovative. I really liked it.


I wish I could end my review there. Honestly, that's the review this novel deserves.

Unfortunately, there's something else about the work that bothers me and I feel compelled to address it:

Ancillary Justice won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, British Science Fiction, and Arthur C. Clarke Awards all in the same year.

And I can't quite figure out why.

This novel is very good—but it's not "sweep every major award" good. If it had won just one or two of these awards, I'd say it's entirely deserving.

It won all of them. With those credentials, I expected something utterly mind-blowing, something genre-defining. Something more than just "very good". I expected something in the same class as giants like Kim Stanley Robinson and Alastair Reynolds.

But it's not. Ancillary Justice is very good SF but it's not that good. I enjoyed it, it's unique and interesting, but it didn't blow my mind.

As good as this novel is—and it's very good—it's not quite as good as it should be to have racked up the accolades it received. ( )
  johnthelibrarian | Aug 11, 2020 |
I know I'm late to the party, but I really enjoyed reading this. All the good things other people have said? They aren't wrong. It's twisty and weird and super satisfying with great characters. And it reminded me (just the teeny tiniest bit) of [b:The Ship Who Sang|203288|The Ship Who Sang (Brainship, #1)|Anne McCaffrey|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1355931323s/203288.jpg|2522719], which made me happy. It's better than that book, if you're worried about the comparison, but I also loved the premise of that whole series so WHATEVER. ( )
  bookbrig | Aug 5, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 286 (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.
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The body lay naked and facedown, a deathly gray, spatters of blood staining the snow around it.
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!

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