Not The Science Fiction You Expected

17333324Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie, won the Hugo, Nebula, British Science Fiction and Arthur C. Clarke awards in 2014. Although, the Hugo awards may be taking some heat currently, it is still a great feat that Ancillary Justice won all these awards in the past year. First in a series, Ancillary Justice  tells the story of one character’s search for revenge. This is another book that I picked for a sci-fi book club because in one description I read there was a mention of a neutral or female gendered lead character. I was also interested in a the idea of a drone-like character becoming an active individual.

Ancillary Justice  is a little confusing at the beginning but you will be rewarded in the end with interesting characters and plot. At first the chapters alternate back and forth between what happened in the past and the present where the main character, Breq, is on a quest to find the person who destroyed her ship.

Breq is something of a drone/cyborg who becomes an active individual once her ship, Justice of Toren, is destroyed. By luck, Breq is the only ancillary unit left alive. She develops a sense of individualism yet feels the heavy loss of her ship and other ancillary units. In her travels to find the cause of her loneliness, she picks up a drug addict/lost-in-time/lost puppy captain. The captain quickly and unintentionally bonds to Breq, becoming something of a chore and friend.

One of the quirks I really liked about this book was its pronoun use. Most sci-fi books (and books in general) will have a male heavy population and if you do not know a character’s gender it is assumed they are male. Not in this book! The language of the main culture assumes a gender neutral tone and uses the female pronoun. Occasionally, the main character will acknowledge in certain cultures a character may be a male but she still references the character as a female. It is so fascinating to read a story this way.

Another great feature of this novel are the different cultures. It spends some time discussing the religions, the behaviors and of course…the genders. I hope that Leckie delves into this more in the next book. If you are looking for a book about people flying around in space and shooting each other, this is not the book for you. If you are looking for a story that delves into its characters as they search for justice or just their place in life, you may really enjoy this book.

Abigail Beaver is an organic farm grown librarian/writer from Wyoming. Occasionally, she will aid in the shearing of alpaca-raptors. Don’t be fooled by their giant, beautiful brown eyes and cloud soft fur. They are quite scary to some.

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