This has been on my ‘to read’ list for ages. Thankfully I bought it on kindle – Amazon warns you if you have already bought a book and I have almost accidentally bought Ancillary Justice several times now.
A bit of background. Ann Leckie’s tale is set in the far future where a human species called the Radchai are aggressively expanding through space. They are ruled by someone called Anaandar Mianaai, who has thousands of gentetically linked bodies. Their modus operandi is to continually expand by conquering a planet, winning over all the important nobility types and suppressing everyone else. Anyone who resists is either killed or turned into a kind of corpse soldier.
Thrown into this scenario is a pretty interesting protagonist called Breq. Spaceships are controlled by AIs and these ships also have ancillary troops made up of the aforementioned corpse soldiers. These soldiers are also controlled by the the AI of the vessel they serve and all have modifications that make them pretty tough in a scrap.
For reasons we don’t know at the start, the AI of a vessel known as the Justice of Torren is now reduced to just being just one ancillary soldier – Breq. What happened to the ship and all the other ancillaries is a mystery. Breq is on a mission to kill Anaander Mianaai and there is clearly something wrong going on with the Radchai as a whole.
Ancillary Justice is a great read. I can see why it won so many awards – the Hugo, Nebula and Arthur C Clarke Awards, to be precise. The world, customs and characters are well thought out and the writing is good. I was worried at first that the constant use of the pronoun ‘she’ for everyone would get annoying. Breq doesn’t really understand gender and has trouble distinguishing male from female, so calls everyone she. But actually it’s fine.
My only real gripe with the book that it is quite unevenly paced. There are some pretty slow moments followed by scenes where a ton of exciting things go on. When things happen, it is superb but then there will be a period where people are just chilling and worrying about gloves and tea.
Having said that, the book is well paced enough that I read it in a couple of days and it has weirdly stuck in my head ever since. If you fancy a space opera that is a little different from the norm, then Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie is definitely worth a try. The next two books of the trilogy are already on my kindle.
The nominees for the Hugo Award 2014 have been announced. If you read a lot of science fiction then this should be fairly exciting news. If nothing else, it should give you some ideas for your next bit of reading (some of which is free – see below).
There is a lot of good stuff here and I am pleased to say, what with my finger being on scifi’s throbbing pulse, I have quite a lot of this stuff on my kindle waiting to be read. With the exception of Vox Day as I don’t like him as a person and will never bother with anything he does (google him.)
Like the Oscars there are a lot of categories which can all be found on the official Hugo Award website. Listed below are the main Hugo Award nominees in the main categories I care most about. Excitingly all the stuff that was published by Tor.com is available for free download or can be read on their awesome website. Read the Tor.com stuff here.
Here are the four Hugo Award categories I am most interested in and the nominees:
Best Novel (1595 nominating ballots)
- Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
- Neptune’s Brood, Charles Stross (Ace / Orbit UK)
- Parasite, Mira Grant (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
- Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles, Larry Correia (Baen Books)
- The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Tor Books)
Best Novella (847 nominating ballots)
- The Butcher of Khardov, Dan Wells (Privateer Press)
- “The Chaplain’s Legacy”, Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013)
- “Equoid”, Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)
- Six-Gun Snow White, Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean Press)
- “Wakulla Springs”, Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (Tor.com, 10-2013)
Best Novelette (728 nominating ballots)
- “Opera Vita Aeterna”, Vox Day (The Last Witchking, Marcher Lord Hinterlands)
- “The Exchange Officers”, Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jan-Feb 2013)
- “The Lady Astronaut of Mars”, Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com/Tor.com, 09-2013)
- “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling”, Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Fall 2013)
- “The Waiting Stars”, Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky, Candlemark & Gleam)
Best Short Story (865 nominating ballots)
- “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”, Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine, Mar-2013)
- “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor.com, 04-2013)
- “Selkie Stories Are for Losers”, Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)
- “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere”, John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)
The winners are to be announced at Loncon3 in London on Sunday 17 August 2014. Read on!