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Ancillary Justice

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Ion to the primary race other than this one really specific detail As a corollary the only modesty taboo they have is that hands should always be covered by gloves which is another strictly non gendered detail I m not really sure that this ploy has a real purpose other than to raise awareness Mostly it just seems like wish fulfillment for a particular kind of feminist that would like to see the eradication of all gender distinctions Now my response might seem reactionary but here s the thing gender can be a legitimate and fascinating topic for science fiction See The Left Hand of Darkness That s an incredible book both in general and also for its thoughtful and probing analysis of gender relationships and assumptions It s not conservative either I also just finished The Handmaid s Tale which is also steeped in gender concerns also fabulously well written and which I also loved Also not conservative So I m not opposed to either the topic or to a liberal perspective on it What I m opposed to is laziness Those books didn t just raise the issue they actually delved in Ancillary Justice just sort of threw this one really extreme plot device at the reader and then walked away Clearly it s designed to make you as a reader reconsider gender but it s just a gimmick Like I said plenty of real world languages get along just fine without gendered pronouns This isn t some earth shattering inventionI see there s a seuel out already or coming out soon I can t be bothered to find out which It wasn t as painful to read as Red Mars but that s about all I can say in its favor Things I liked about ANCILLARY JUSTICE a list Everyone is she not everyone is actually she The protagonist is a SPACESHIP There is a scene where a space station is mad at the protagonist and the space station throws a tantrum and a spaceship who likes the protagonist is like omg space station is such a jerk and it is super cute omg A spaceship with FEELINGS People are hostile and angry at each other but then they become friends and then they are super LOYAL AND DEVOTED The spaceships are basically like dragons in Pern only they are spaceships Protagonist is one of those super stoic characters who have a lot of feelings but refuse to admit it I love that kind of character Semi soul bonded spaceships It s about an evil empire that s trying to stop being ite so evil it is told from the POV of someone from the evil empire but you get a lot about the perspectives of the people and places that have been invaded and colonised by the evil empire The different cultures in the book are well fleshed out and feel like different cultures I particularly liked the evil empire religion though I didn t get the sartorial conventions gloves It is structured so that alternating chapters recount two storylines one about a mystery that happened in the past and one about the mystery of what is happening in the future and I like stories that have a mystery at each end of the stick STOIC SPACESHIPS WHO SING SONGS I m almost wanting to give this five stars because I LOVED it but the first section of the book is very confusing in some ways by choice and I think that could put some people off so there you go 4 12 stars haThis is a great sci fi adventure following a character Unexpected When I started this book I thought I was looking at a 3 to 4 star book Even by halfway I was still thinking 4 stars at the most But really it was always going to be a five star book and it took me to the 80% mark to grudgingly acknowledge this deserves a five star I say grudgingly because this book is not my sual cup of tea Call me shallow and infantile but generally speaking I like my space operas to have lots of space battles lots of fightingbattle scenes with a plethora of pew pew and viscera with smoldering slag in the aftermath I like my protagonists to have a sense of self assured cool about them Instead of cool I got ethereal and still a bit of cool Instead of the hero that shoots from the hip while watching a multitude of alien heads go pop pop pop this protagonist sings WHA How does singing dancing Broadway wannabe beat scary but cool tough guy with big gun that makes pew pew noises Well for a start there s no dancing but importantly our protagonist is a spaceship AI Further not only does our protagonist inhabit a warship but it also inhabits thousands of corpse soldiers or ancillaries human bodies that are reanimated and incorporated into the consciousness of the ship THATS FREAKING INSANE And when this machine intelligence thousands of old sings through her multiple human voices everybody listens That s intelligence thousands of years old sings through her multiple human voices everybody listens That s ethereal part and it s pretty cool as well That s not to say there is no violence but Leckie ses it sparingly and though it may not be as gratuitous and visceral as I generally like it really didn t need to be When Ann Leckie does violence she times it for maximum punch and impactLeckie also does a good job of communicating what maximum punch and impactLeckie also does a good job of communicating what multi bodied intelligence would feel like from a first person perspective The story is told from the POV of the ship Justice of Toren mostly from the perspective of her human bodies So you have a first person POV that is not limited to a single perspective and often does the job of an omniscient perspective and in a single coherent passage we can get multiple conversations and activity through bodies that are separated by distance all alongside the perspective of an intelligent warship operating and monitoring from orbit We also get those instances where one body will be doing something from the first person POV while a separate body is watching from a distance also still within the same first person POVThe other mind bending concept in this book is that the Radchaai the culture our ship AI belongs to don t emphasize gender and they Broken Wings (Hidden Wings, use gender neutral pronouns Leckie opted tose She as the English proxy for the Radchaai gender neutral pronoun so as a conseuence the protagonist s narrative voice always The Dark Villages of Childhood uses she regardless of whether referring to male or female Also the ship AI has trouble identifying gender and is constantly misgendering characters who are non Radchaai and oftenses the wrong pronoun still sually she ntil corrected This left me with a few Oh moments when discovering characters I thought were female were actually male There are still some characters in the book that I m not sure about not that it matters But I found that fun rather than confusing I also like how Leckie gradually opens Asylum and Other Stories up what turns out to be a complexniverse with complex cultures and concepts without info dump or spoon feeding This means there is a little disorientation at the beginning but the process of discovery as the book progresses makes it all worthwhile and very cool Plenty of Aha momentsMind spinning concepts aside this is very much a space opera set in a Banana Fish, Tome 14 : universe which features galaxy spanning Empires in a Universe where Earth is long lost to memory The story was interesting the pacing perfect and the concepts were well executed with plenty of meat for contemplating the nature of consciousness freewill and what it means to be humanThis is the first book in what is to be a series It can be read standalone but it has definitely wet my appetite for the next installment All of my various segments with one mind and voice rate this5 stars Most of my friends are married now and have 1 or 2 kids I like kids but once in a while you meet one of those kids that everyone adores and that is very clever and friendly but for some reason I simply don t get along with that particular kid Unfortunately for me Ancillary Justice is that kidIn Ancillary Justice we re following 2 plot lines for most of the novel In the present storyline we follow Bre the last physical manifestation of the ship Justice of Toren s complex AI In the Radch empire ships are sentient and control a multitude of physical bodies called ancillaries After the destruction of her ship Bre is on aest to get justice for said destructionThis storyline alternates with a second narrative set 19 years in the past and explains what led Standing on the shoulders of giants author Anne Leckie has produced a mature post modern sci fi gemComing out of the gates with her debut novel but with a lifetime of science fiction knowledge building and percolating p to the top Leckie hit a home run and accurately won the science fiction triple crown by grabbing the Hugo the Nebula and the Arthur C Clarke as well as a host of other awards and nominationsSo what s all the fuss aboutLinking influences from Ursula Le Guin Frank Herbert Andre Norton Isaac Asimov Robert A Heinlein and John Varley Leckie has produced a future classic that could not have been produced 40 years ago Ancillary Justice is in many respects the culmination of decades of science fiction evolutionLike Poul Anderson Leckie began with a great concept a niue confluence of great ideas that work together to build a pow. Rship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch the empire that conuered the galaxyNow NOTE I feel bad changing my rating and my review after so many people have liked this review but one of the commenters below convinced me that the central arguments I made in my original 2 star review were invalid And at risk of breaking the entire Internet I decided to listen to a reasonable argument and evidence and consider changing my mind In addition I decided to reread listen to actually the book in preparation for reading the seuel Ancillary Sword as my due diligence as a 2015 Hugo voter My original read of the book was in Oct 2013 My re read was in June 2015 Based on the re read I changed my rating from a 2 to a 3 and I d give it 35 if I couldReasoningBre isn t as much an idiot as I made her out to be Her plan actually did make sense In particular she always had the ambition of Nuestra propuesta inconclusa. Ecuador-Perú unmasking the hidden civil war for one thing and when she was caught and detected it wasn t by the station AI but by the emperor himherself for another So the plot is really not nearly as bad as I suggestedIn addition the world building is way better than I gave credit for initially I was overly irate at the political aspects and they are there and cumbersome and silly but there s a lot going on and it s actuallyite goodI m still not what you d call a fan but the book deserves better than my original rating For the sake of transparency however I m leaving that original The Volleyball Coaching Bible - Volume II (The Volleyball Coaching Bible, unedited since my re read at least review below Original Review There s a simple life lesson that I still haven t really learned and it is this being good at making art doesn t actually mean that you re any good at teaching explaining or critiuing artThe first example of this in my life was comparing a critiue of the album Closer to the Edge by the band Yes with actual interviews of the band itself The critiue which was written in an email to me from a friend of my father s who is a music buff and a scholar of the poet Milton was incredible It explained the lyrics and musical themes of the album in ways that opened my eyes to its depth complexity and brilliance Listening to the band members try to explain the meaning of their own songs however was nothing short of traumatic They veered between banal and saccharine on the one hand and flatly incoherent on the other It didn t make me stop enjoying their music but it did make me stop listening to or reading their interviewsThe second example of this was the recommendation given by Jerry Holkins the writer of web comic Penny Arcade for Karen Traviss s first Star Wars novels I greatly admire Holkins as a writer A lot of his blogging lacks polish and refinement he doesn t know when to self edit or perhaps even what that concept means but his skill and passion arenmistakable and his voice is incredibly Diccionario trilingüe Miskitu - Sumu-Mayangna - Español uniue He is in a way a hero of mine Even though a lot of what he writes isite frankly offensive crapIt had been several years since the incident with Yes s Closer to the Edge and I didn t really connect the two I just figured if Jerry Holkins was nreservedly endorsing a writer then I had to get on that stat I went out and bought not one but two of her novels right awayThey were terrible Not the absolute worst franchise fiction I ve ever read but well if that sounds like a good example of the expression damning with faint praise then you re absolutely right I forced myself to finish the first one because this was the time before Red Mars and so I still lived by a code of finishing every novel I started But I didn t bother to even start the second There was nothing in novels not a single thing that gave me any hope for her future writingWell almost another decade passed before I fell into this trap again This time the source was John Scalzi I figured that whereas Holkins is primarily a blogger who was endorsing a sci fi author John Scalzi actually was a sci fi author himself so perhaps his endorsement should carry weight Based on his praise the categorization of Ancillary Justice as space opera the premise which described a sentient ship thousands of years old and the awesome cover art I bought it Honest admission if you put a John Harris illustration on a book I will almost invariably buy it I m not saying it s smart but it s trueWell this is three strikes I think I ve finally learned my lesson that the creative skills for making art and the analytic skills for reviewing and criticizing art have about as much in common as plumbing and playing the piano I m not saying that there s no such thing as someone who is both a good writer and a saying that there s no such thing as someone who is both a good writer and a critic There are probably some good plumbers who can also tickle the ole ivories I m just saying that I fully recognize that creating good art doesn t make you in any WAY A RELIABLE SOURCE FOR EVALUATING ARTSO WHAT S a reliable source for evaluating artSo what s with Ancillary Justice There s actually one essential problem but it s a doozy nothing the major characters do makes any sense whatsoeverThe entire story is motivated by basically two decisions the protagonist makes neither of which make the least bit of sense First she decides to assassinate someone who has literally thousands of bodies incarnations spread out over a good chunk of the galaxy sing I kid you not a handgun She spends 20 years tracking down the special handgun so that she can go kill this person knowing full well that while she ll probably be able to kill one or two bodies it will have no significance whatsoeverNo plausible chance of success and no conseuence even if successful it s the stupidest plan ever conceivedNow you could invest this hopeless and desperate plan with all kinds of emotional tension or rich existential gravitas but Ann Leckie doesn t go for that When confronted by the stupidity of her plan the protagonist just shrugs Which sort of makes you as the reader want her to get blown Twisted (LOST, up to save you the effort of finishing the book If she doesn t care why should you There s stoic and then there s pathologically apatheticOf course plan is kind of a generous description of the protagonist s intended course of actions This isn t exactly Mission Impossible Her theory is 1 Acuire the magical gun and then 2 Gain an audience with the target and then 3 Shoot the target The problem is that the target is surrounded by a near omniscient AI who easily detects the plan ahead of time which doesn t surprise the protagonist thus compounding the idiocy It also renders the primary motivation of the first half of the book moot Why do we care about spending 2 decades tracking down the magical gun that can get past all the sensors if the AI around the target can perfectly easily spot the protagonist herself In the book she endsp needing to lay low for months to get that audience but the station AI identifies her in just 2 3 days So once again it s literally the worst plan everIf this doesn t sound like compelling drama it isn tThe second major decision is for the protagonist to save the life of some random drama it isn tThe second major decision is for the protagonist to save the life of some random that she finds in the snow and then keep him around or less indefinitely despite the fact that he s an obnoxious spoiled brat a drug addict and a lying thief She also jumps off a bridge to save his life at one point coming damn near close to killing herself Didn t she have some big epic plan to fail at assassinating the villain Yeah but sometimes she just does inexplicable stuff because plotA lot of stories struggle with getting their characters to do what the author needs them to do for believable reasons supported by internal motivation In Ancillary Justice Ann Leckie doesn t struggle She doesn t even trySince his recent Hugo win sadly for Redshirts which is definitely his least impressive work since his practice novel Agent To The Stars Scalzi has been criticized even for his politics I ve definitely noticed that he s altered the entire course of the Old Man s War niverse or at least chosen to emphasize new aspects of it in order to convey a much left friendly political tone in recent works especially The Human Division but I don t want to try and get in Scalzi s head Maybe he s pandering maybe he s frustrated that he doesn t get credit for the beliefs he really has or maybe it s just the artistic direction he was already going in I don t know but it s is odd that Ancillary Justice which he chose to support is also such an overtly political workThe political gimmick and it really is just a gimmick is that the viewpoint character comes from a future human society that is just off the shelf imitation Roman Empire a common sci fi stereotype except that they have also totally rejected gender essentialism That s basically itThe rejection is so complete that their language has lost gendered pronouns and so everyone is referred to as she by the main character who is nable to tell male and female human beings apart Now linguistically that s not actually far fetched Hungarian which I speak passably also has no gendered pronouns But the reason I dismiss it as pretty banal politics is that there really isn t any definit. On a remote icy planet the soldier known as Bre is drawing closer to completing her estOnce she was the Justice of Toren a colossal sta. Erful whole Leckie describes centuries old AI technology that links spaceships and individual nits ancillaries together Further these AI conciousnesses can operate together or in psychological civil war to rule over a galactic empire headed by a tyrannical and aristocratic hierarchical system Akin to Star Trek s The Borg civilizations can get annexed into the larger whole and assimilated resistance is futileModern novels like China Mieville s Embassytown and Alastair Reynolds The Prefect come closest to a similar world building masterwork like what Leckie has accomplished Like David Weber s Safehold series Leckie has woven a detailed tapestry of a fictional niverse that breathes with its own life and presents the reader with a wealth of estions to be answeredNot an especially easy read her gender neutral narrative and alien cultural design can be difficult to follow it is nonetheless a breathtakingly ambitious project that satisfies and entertains If you re going to make a desperate hopeless act of defiance you should make it a good one Lots of fun Before reading Ancillary Sword the 2nd book in the Imperial Radch Series I decided to re read Ancillary Justice a thoroughly compelling space opera and debut novel from Ann Leckie I enjoyed Leckie s depiction of One Esk whose story is told over three different time periods spanning a thousand years There are also different versions of One Esk who is both the consciousnesssentience of the Radchaai spaceship Justice of Toren and ancillary versions of this self These points of view take some getting Soap Making Bible used to but there s a big payoff as the intersecting storiesnfold Parts of the book seem like a detective story What motivates One Esk Is there a single event in the intersecting stories which reveals One Esk s new purpose or is it complicated than that Ancillary Justice is an exploration of identity and cultural imperialism depicted during Radchaai annexations of planets Ancillary Justice than held Tewasnya Dewa Iblis Awan Api (Long Hu Men The Next Level 01) up to a re read Changing my rating from 4 to 45 and roundingp This really seems to be a case of a bandwagon gone insane I was looking forward to this book after seeing very high recommendations from a lot of high profile people Veronica Belmont John Scalzi I think Felicia Day NPR books I know I am forgetting and nearly every review here is five stars How could I not love this one Well recently I have discovered that I am really not fitting in with the mainstream I have had terrible luck lately with ridiculously popular books and Ancillary Justice is no exception I was excited to see Ann s treatment of gender due to the now famous Red Now and Laters use of she as the default pronoun in the book Unfortunately it doesn t work at all What could have been a very interesting take on gender became a gimmick that just didn t fit She in this case comes across as a mistranslation It is a word that in English is very closely associated with the feminine There are a few exceptions like boats guns or cars where people will refer to the genderless object as a she If translating from a language or culture that doesn t recognize a difference between masculine and feminine one would definitely not choose she Sure it doesn t make for such clever marketing However before I get drowned out by cries of misogynist one would notse he either We already have a word for the neutral gender it If that seems too impersonal one could refer to the person throughout the book It doesn t flow very well and definitely doesn t hold any gimmick value so it is a lame choice but it would still make senseNow aside from the gender issue the book was a muddled mess Ann apparently had terrible difficulty with descriptions Chance Encounter using angry or anger just about a hundred times by my count Shesed the word gesture a hundred times as well There were gestures for everything polite gestures gestures of ambiguity whatever they would be apologetic gestures negating gestures gestures of ambiguity abortive gestures gestures showing a lack of concern or helplessness It really came across as what it was an author s first time at bat The story seems to have been thrown together by the writer making angry gestures while holding a pen Characters would be walking along talking and then falling suddenly Ok so you needed to get the story going but just a sudden fall down hundreds of meters Maybe my copy was missing a few pages The story focused on local regional and galacticuniversal politics If that is your bag give it a shot In my mind though it read like Tom Cruise s movie Mission Impossible convoluted story lines going everywhere but nowhere at the same time characters that were ndeveloped to the point where I was indifferent to their fates and actions and a stupid plan that was the foundation of the whole plotStupid plan That isn t nice Honestly the whole idea of the book is that a guy has a terrible plan Somebody wants to steal a gun and kill thousands of bad guys yet she see what I did there Gimmick knows she may only successfully kill a small handful To make it worse there are mind reading ships that can tell if you are stressed or sweating which just may be significant if your goal is the assassination of one thousand clones of the galactic empire s supreme leader Conveniently though these clones all seem to hang around common ships and hang onto the outside of escaping ships trying to shoot their way in Lazy Wow This is the last Ann Leckie book I am going to waste my time on Sorry Ann I don t mean to hurt your feelings but I am sure that my review certainly won t sink your next book or movie deal I have written low star reviews of popular books before and have received angry messages from fanboys intending to intimidate me into giving stars really so I feel it necessary to provide this explanation of what a book review site is it is a collection of different opinions If you don t like somebody s opinion of your favorite book sending messages to that person to give a better review s opinion of your favorite book sending messages to that person to give a better review reduces the value of the review site as a whole If every offended person here got everybody else to give a book give stars every book would have five stars How does that help you find your next book to read Instead there are a billion five star reviews for Ancillary Justice and a few low ones If you agree with the tastes of the low star reviewers maybe the book isn t for you If you want to play the numbers game read the book you will probably love it Ann Leckie s series drops s right into a Rabbit Wishes universe both familiar and terrifyingly different It may take you a while tonderstand what is going on because many of your assumptions about point of view will be stripped away This is because the main character Bre is an ancillary a human body that has been slaved to the artificial intelligence of a giant spaceship in this case Justice of Torren In the empire called the Radch each spaceship is sentient crewed by legions of ancillaries who are all connected to the same central mind Because of this Bre can be in a thousand places at once watching events Cloudwish (The Six Impossiverse unfold all across the surface of a planet wherever her soldiers are stationed or on the ship orbiting aboveWhere do ancillaries come from The Radch is a military empire It exists by annexing other star systems and enslaving huge swaths of the native population putting them in cryogenic st This book caught my eye mostly because it s been winning just about every award ever this year So I picked itp when I was on tour And as soon as I Started It I started it I see why it was getting such attention It s exceptionally well written I was almost immediately pulled in I should mention here it s Science Fiction I don t review much sci fi these days because I mostly read fantasy For the most part what s where my taste lies these days But that wasn t always the case When I was younger I read sci fi almost exclusively It s pretty much all I read for several years So in some ways reading this book was like going home again I could feel it stretching my brain in ways it hasn t been stretched in a while Making me think in different directions than I m Split Second Choice used to It was good gritty realistic sci fi Far future Big differences in tech But what really makes this book great are the big cultural differences in the world I ve read a fair chuck of sci fi but I ve never run into anything like this before I love it when I run into something fresh and new This book will make you work a little It s not going to spoon feed you It s going to drop you in the middle of the story and let you figure out what the hell is going on by yourself no long explanations of how the culture developed because of blah blah blah Nope this is a novel that leave you to makep your own mind about things It leaves room for ambiguity That s a rare thing in books these days And I love it I ve already ordered the seuel so I can see where the next piece of story leads If you re willing to work a little this book is absolutely worth your time. N act of treachery has ripped it all away leaving her with one fragile human body nanswered estions and a burning desire for vengeance.