Review: Ann Leckie - *Ancillary Justice*

I finished Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice yesterday. It was good, if somewhat uneven.

The book has won all sorts of awards over the last year, and I have to wonder if that does not say more about the generally sorry state of contemporary science fiction novels than a out this book itself. Ancillary Justice is not a bad book, and in a number of regards, quite interesting. Leckie does a reasonably good job of world-building, and the notion of a imperial ruler who has split herself across many different bodies is novel, as is the concept of a society where gender is undifferentiated as a matter of social intercourse.

However, neither idea is explored particularly deeply.

The divided ruler idea serves to drive a major plot point, but is otherwise left unplumbed. The lack of gender distinction in Radchaai society likewise arises often as a plot point, but it is a bit weird for an author to introduce something that radically different from our own experience of the world and than treat it so shallowly.

What I did like about Ancillary Justice was the main character Breq's struggles to figure out what it means to be an individual. Formerly one of hundreds (thousands?) of instances of a distributed system of post-human functionaries (the "ancillaries" of the title) of a massive warship, Breq is the sole survivor of that ship's destruction. It is an interesting conundrum for the character, and Leckie does a reasonably good job of teasing out the nuances and internal conflict over the course of the novel.

This book is apparently the first in a planned trilogy, so most of this stuff is likely just setup. It is also apparently Leckie's first novel, so some of my gripes may fade as she becomes a more seasoned writer. The second book, Ancillary Sword, is already out, and I will most likely read it. It is, however, rather far down on my reading list right now, and at the rate I am currently able to get through books, it may be a while.

Show Comments