Sunday, July 07, 2019

44. Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie

I picked this up new from a pretty cool mobile bookstore called Iron Dog Books that was outside of Jazzfest in Vancouver.  I had been looking for it used for a while and despite its popularity (or perhaps because of) was having no luck.  I was happy to support this store as the woman who owned it really knew her stuff and had an excellently curated selection.  Ironically, I found a used copy plus the other two of the trilogy at Pulpfiction books the next day.

If you are a contemporary science fiction fan, you should be aware of Anne Leckie and the Imperial Radch trilogy by now.  It is a big success and I can confirm that it lives up to the hype.  It's part of the new wave of what I will term "woke space opera".  There is a lot to get in a huff about here and people already have.  I won't go too far down that road except to say that science fiction is always a reflection of the time it is written.  The theme of the impact of colonization (and particularly as finally being perceived by the colonizers themselves) is central to this book and gender identity as in issue is interwoven into the narrative.  To my mind, it is all an integral part of a really interesting whole and the story and setting are rich and engaging and the themes so integral to them that nothing in this story seems forced or having any kind of agenda.  It's just really good science fiction.

I won't go too deeply into the story either, as you can find that all over the web.  I was hooked from the start as the main character is a ship as well as many "ancillaries" or the stolen human bodies that its AI can inhabit to do all of the ship's various duties (such as serve its officers, annex other civilizations and then later police them).  They are part of the Radch Empire, whose raison d'etre is to "civilize" other human races, with systematic annexation using their giant AI ships and their ancillaries.  The actual humans who run these ships come from houses of various interlocking statuses.  It's a really cool set up and of course things get complicated.  I will leave it there. 

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