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Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren - a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking th...

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Comment from [Reddit user] with 7 upvotes on /r/books/

Finished Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie last week. My coworker gave it to me and semi-insisted I read it, so I obliged him. I'm bracing for criticism because I know people here are super into this book. I thought it had quite a bit of issues, and when I found out it had won the Hugo, Nebula, Clarke AND Locus awards I was absolutely shocked.

-naming: Seivarden Vendaai, Shis'urna, Anaander Miaanai, Arilesperas Strigan. Definitely a personal preference but these felt like typical fantasy trying too hard to have strange names.
-inconsistent worldbuilding: she often refers back to Earth-relative terms (e.g. malachite, cows, tea) which are out of place in this non-Earth-central universe.
-the writing was incredibly bad at times, especially for a book that got as much acclaim as this one. On a technical level, but also including entire paragraphs of info-dump that are the narrator (One Esk/Breq) elaborating on cultural practices that take place entirely outside the story. Why is One Esk narrating this to him/herself? Also too much expository dialogue.
-The female-gendered pronouns didn't make the story difficult to read, and I like this idea in general. It becomes an issue when you simply throw this element into a narrative without the cultural vision to back it up. Meaning, there should be some background of egalitarianism or gender roles in Radch society.
This technique was most famously done by Ursula K. Le Guin, and if you look at how she handles it, it's very rooted in cultural practices in her fictional universe. It helps that Le Guin was raised by an anthropologist and has a keen eye for analyzing cultural phenomena.
-very heavy handed politics. I even agree with these politics (though who wouldn't agree with overthrowing a tyrant), but she really bashes it over your head. Every character relationship is defined by some sort of class struggle. They all get into these contrived debates with each other that are very out of character.
-super predictable. Knew she'd end up taking Seivarden with her. Knew she would kill Lieutenant Awn. Knew she wanted the gun to assassinate Anaander Miaanai. Knew she would be rescued by the sail pod at the end and not die. The one thing I was surprised by was Anaander warring with herself.

So it seems like the award was given based on three factors: 1) the idea of an AI as the main character, which is novel and cool 2) the idea of "fracturing" these AIs from each other (also cool) 3) the unconventional gender use (nothing revolutionary there).

Just finished Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor which was a quick and fun read.

Comment from [Reddit user] with 6 upvotes on /r/books/

Last week I finished:

The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty

I’m not sure how to describe this, other than it covers a huge part of the African-American experience with regard to food and genetics. Some of the topics it covers are the slave trade, the African diaspora (most ended up in South America and the Caribbean), how soul food evolved from its origins in Africa, the experience of enslaved cooks, etc etc. I have this in hardcover, but listened to the audiobook. The author is earnest, genuine and likable, particularly for a cook.

Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby Jr.

Heartbreaking, also a little difficult—literally—to read. I liked Sara’s chapters better than anyone else’s because we’ve all heard about heroin addicts, but she started on diet pills, and the only person who said anything was her son, who was on heroin and still lost his shit at her because she was on speed. (Interestingly, these days you can take the same thing as Adderall. I found this out a few days ago when I got my first prescription and realized what it was. Definitely treating that one with a healthy respect.) The way Tyrone was treated in the Deep South, too, damn.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

I gave up on this one initially because I thought I had to keep track of people’s genders, but turns out I didn’t. I also didn’t like stories about AIs until recently; they were difficult to empathize with. I picked up the book again and was hooked. I love the politics here; overall it reminds me of both Too Like the Lightning and The Traitor Baru Cormorant. I’m on the wait list for the second book now.

Narconomics by Tom Wainwright

Another audiobook, really interesting listen in the car. (I’m finding nonfiction to be a good choice for the commute for some reason.) Lots of info about supply chains and where value is added in the drug trade. Did you know you can blowtorch half the coca fields in South America and it has almost zero effect on the price of cocaine in America? The book is full of stuff like that and it explains why, and how it all works.

Working on:

  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • 2666 by Roberto Bolaño
  • The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea
  • The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli
  • Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
Comment from [Reddit user] with 5 upvotes on /r/books/

Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie
Kind of interesting, but more political intrigue and subtext-heavy conversations than I expected. It has some interesting questions about being in conflict with oneself, and about communication.

The Trolley Problem, by Thomas Cathcart
A lot of interesting perspectives and arguments about the trolley problem that I hadn't considered before. On the side of light philosophical reading, with fun little blurbs about various thinkers.

Storm Front, by Jim Butcher
I didn't like it. The main character antagonizes everyone around him, wonders why nobody likes him, and pigeonholes everyone into "friend" or "enemy". It's a very self-centred and indulgent book.

Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion
Cool premise, but it got so cheesy by the end of the book I could barely stand it. I was really not a fan of how love was touted as the cure-all, from zombie status to persistent demoralization.

Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
I didn't relate to the characters, at all, and found their behaviour kind of far-fetched. I dropped this book.

Summer Knight, by Jim Butcher
I heard that the series got better, starting in the fourth book. I still didn't like how the main character was basically the only one who solved any of the problems, how he used even the "good guys" as tools and never confidantes, and was essentially led around by the plot. The writing is better than the first book, but I'm not going to continue reading this series.

I am not a Serial Killer, by Dan Wells
I actually really liked this book. Some people say that it jumps the shark, but I went in because I knew it was going to turn supernatural. A supernatural crime book from the perspective of a well-meaning psycho was a novel experience, and I really liked the main character's struggle against his own instincts. I don't mind whether it's accurate portrayal of real-life sociopaths, because it seems consistent enough within the text itself.

Comment from [Reddit user] with 5 upvotes on /r/books/

I started reading Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie and am really enjoying it so far. With Sci-Fi, I find it hard to follow along with a lot of the made-up names and places, and this book has a lot of that. With that said, it's easy to distinguish who is who and I think the plot and gender identity stuff is really clever.

Comment from [Reddit user] with 4 upvotes on /r/books/

Just finished Educated by Tara Westerover. Holy shit, what a hard book to read. It was incredible what she's overcome in her life and also so sad to know what her family put her through.

I'm currently reading Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. This has been on my list for two years and I kept putting it off and I'm so disappointed that I did. It's unlike any other science fiction book I've read and the main character is fascinating.

Comment from [Reddit user] with 4 upvotes on /r/books/

Just finished Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie which was a fun read.

Started The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco which I've been looking forward to for a while.

Comment from [Reddit user] with 4 upvotes on /r/books/

Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie

This one took me awhile to read. It was one of the most interesting scifi books I read this year but at times I just got lost. Didn´t know who was saying what (One, Breq, Justice of Toren)

I probably also should not have started this trilogy before finishing the other one The Machineries of Empire, by Yoon Ha Lee. The stories are kinda similar as in multiple personalities, group-think etc (or am I wrong), so it got me confused at times.

This week I´ll try and finish the second book of that trilogy, so Raven Stratagem, by Yoon Ha Lee

Comment from [Reddit user] with 3 upvotes on /r/books/

Still reading Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. The book is incredible, I can't wait to finish.

Just started The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamsion. If you have any interested in the topic of empathy the book is really great. She's a phenomenal writer.

Comment from [Reddit user] with 3 upvotes on /r/books/

Finished reading The Shadow over Innsmouth, by H.P. Lovecraft to myself and The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin to my kids.

Started reading Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie to myself and Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi to my kids. Both are really good so far.

Comment from [Reddit user] with 3 upvotes on /r/books/

I'm re-reading Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie, because it's great and I picked it up again when I didn't have the energy to start a new book. Then I started Amberlough, by Lara Elena Donnelly. I'm only a few chapters in, but it's enjoyable enough so far.

Comment from [Reddit user] with 3 upvotes on /r/books/

I finished two books last week:

Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie I enjoyed this book mostly because of Breq, the protagonist. I think I just have a huge soft spot for AI protagonists. It's not that the plot wasn't good. It was interesting, but everything sort of unrolled in an inevitable way after a big turning point in the middle of the book.

Revenant Gun, by Yoon Ha Lee I liked it. I thought it was a good ending to the Machineries of Empire trilogy. It wasn't as suspenseful as the previous two books, but it wrapped things up in a satisfactory manner.

I really ought to read something that's not sci-fi/sci-fantasy at some point soon.

Comment from [Reddit user] with 2 upvotes on /r/books/

Finished Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie and just started Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie

What a super easy and fun read! I enjoy the exploration of hive minds and the meaning of humanity in the first installment. I’m looking forward to seeing how Breq progresses throughout the rest of the series.

Comment from [Reddit user] with 2 upvotes on /r/books/


Everything You and I Could Have Been If We Weren't You and I, by Albert Espinosa

A pretty short book but one I really enjoyed. It's a book that doesn't commit to a main genre, which can backfire, but in this case it works because in doing so it shows you how almost bizarre, unpredictable yet beautiful life can be. It's almost a sci-fi story, almost a love story, almost a tragedy and almost a story of grief. I read the original Spanish version so I can't speak to the quality of prose in the English translation but I recommend this book.


Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie

This one was given to me at my book club. It won the Hugo, Nebula and Arthur C. Clarke awards so I'm expecting great things.