Ancillary Justice Lib/E Audio CD – Unabridged, 13 November 2018
|New from||Used from|
|Audio CD, Audiobook, CD, Unabridged||
- Publisher : Orbit; Unabridged edition (13 November 2018)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 1549176722
- ISBN-13 : 978-1549176722
- Customer Reviews:
Assured, gripping, and stylish.-- "NPR Books"
About the Author
Ann Leckie is the author of the Hugo, Nebula, Arthur C. Clarke, and British Science Fiction Award-winning novel Ancillary Justice and its Locus Award-winning sequel Ancillary Sword. She has also published short stories in Subterranean Magazine, Strange Horizons, and Realms of Fantasy. Her story Hesperia and Glory was reprinted in Science Fiction: The Best of the Year, 2007 Edition edited by Rich Horton.
Adjoa Andoh is an Audie Award and Earphones Award-winning narrator and an actress of British film, television, stage, and radio. She is known on the UK stage for lead roles at the RSC, the National Theatre, the Royal Court Theatre, and the Almeida Theatre, and she is a familiar face on British television. She made her Hollywood debut starring as Nelson Mandela's chief of staff, Brenda Mazikubo, alongside Morgan Freeman as Mandela in Clint Eastwood's Invictus.
Review this product
Top reviews from Australia
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The story revolves around the highly stratified Radch civilisation, which is humanoid, spacegoing and expansionary. Earth, if it ever existed, is a long gone memory and for thousands of years the Radch have been annexing worlds in brutal fashion and subsuming resident societies, much like the Roman Empire. By a curious quirk of the Radch language, everyone is referred to as ‘she’, regardless of their actual gender. That’s just one of the surprising things about this book – that it demonstrates how little gender specificity actually matters to the story.
As I said, the start of the novel is fairly quiet. There’s a lot of world-building going on through the narrative. But the seemingly small events that occur in those first few chapters resonate through the rest of the book and gain in significance as we understand more about the Radch and, in particular, the quest of the key protagonist, Justice of Toren One Esk Nineteen who, although she looks human, is actually an ‘ancillary’, a human whose mind has been wiped and infused with the distributed consciousness of the battleship Justice of Toren’s controlling Artificial Intelligence. That consciousness simultaneously resides in the ship, in One Esk Nineteen and in the minds of thousands of other ancillaries deployed during the latest occupation of a conquered world. But the controlling consciousness is not a soulless, electronic zombie animator:
Seven Issa frowned, and made a doubtful gesture with her left hand, awkwardly, her gloved fingers still curled around half a dozen counters. ‘Ships have feelings.’
‘Yes, of course.’ Without feelings insignificant decisions become excruciating attempts to compare endless arrays of inconsequential things. It’s just easier to handle those with emotions. ‘But as I said, I took no offense.’
Seven Issa looked down at the board, and dropped the counters she held into one of its depressions. She stared at them a moment, and then looked up. ‘You hear rumors. About ships and people they like. And I swear your face never changes, but …’
I engaged my facial muscles, smiled, an expression I’d seen many times.
Seven Issa flinched. ‘Don’t do that!’ she said, indignant, but hushed lest the lieutenants hear us.
It wasn’t that I’d gotten the smile wrong – I knew I hadn’t. It was the sudden change from my habitual lack of expression to something more human, that some of the Seven Issas found disturbing. I dropped the smile.
‘Aatr’s tits,’ swore Seven Issa. ‘When you do that it’s like you’re possessed or something.’
For all that One Esk Nineteen is a ‘drone’ of the ship, she does exhibit some unique characteristics: an affinity for music and gathering songs of defeated cultures and a habit of humming. So there’s a dichotomy set up about her ‘conscious’ mind and the possibility that some remnant of her original, wiped personality still exists. Among all the action, the novel riffs on the potential causes and effects of this as well as exploring the idea in other contexts, most notably in the character of the Radch leader, Anaander Mianaai, who, while not a distributed single consciousness, is a series of networked clones, hundreds or perhaps thousands of them, that exists across Radch space in order to exert consistent command and control. The potential weakness of such an arrangement is exposed in startling fashion when One Esk Nineteen is forced into a confrontation with three iterations of Mianaai that results in a cataclysmic event. I can’t say too much, but the main section of the book focuses on the fallout of that event 20 years later when One Esk Nineteen, now seemingly a singleton divorced from her ship and fellow ancillaries, meets up with a Radch lieutenant she knew 1000 years earlier:
The instant my hand touched her shoulder, the red glass shattered, sharp-edged fragments flying out and away, glittering briefly. Seivarden closed her eyes, ducked her head, face into my neck, held me tight enough that if I hadn’t been armored my breathing would have been impeded. Because of the armor I couldn’t feel her panicked breath on my skin, couldn’t feel the air rushing past, though I could hear it. But she didn’t extend her own armor.
If I had been more than just myself, if I had had the numbers I needed, I could have calculated our terminal velocity, and just how long it would take to reach it. Gravity was easy, but the drag of my pack and our heavy coats whipping up around us, affecting our speed, was beyond me. It would have been much easier to calculate in a vacuum, but we weren’t falling in a vacuum.
But the difference between fifty metres a second and 150 was, at that moment, only large in the abstract. I couldn’t see the bottom yet, the target I was hoping to hit was small, and I didn’t know how much time we’d have to adjust our attitude, if we even could. For the next twenty or forty seconds we had nothing to do but wait, and fall.
‘Armor!’ I shouted into Seivarden’s ear.
‘Sold it,’ she answered. Her voice shook slightly, straining against the rushing air. Her face was still pressed hard against my neck.
The world of Ancillary Justice is immersive, layered and compelling, and as a result we understand so much about the framework in which actions occur, it makes for fascinating contemplation about the ramifications of those actions. I was reminded of Iain M Banks’s Culture novels while reading Ancillary Justice. Leckie doesn’t have Banks’s playfully black sense of humour or overtly political sensibility but she certainly knows how to make you believe in her world.
We all love those books we come across once in a while that give us a thrill every time we return to the world of the story. Ancillary Justice is one such book and though it’s early days for 2014, it will take quite a bit to knock it off the top of my list of standout reads this year.
Having said that, I highly recommend it. That may sound add as well, but despite it's flaws it's a really good story. I can see why it won the Hugo and Nebula awards, and it deserved them both.
On top of the multi faceted heroine, Anne Leckie used flashbacks.
In all it stretched my poor brain, but in a good way- I think!
I am still unsure about the gender issues, it has left me much to ponder and I think that is a good thing.
Top reviews from other countries
On the whole, the book lived up to the premise. The main character stuck a nice balance between strange and relateable, sympathetic and ruthless. The ruling empire was painted in interesting shades of grey - bringing harmony and civilization to the planets it colonises while doing terrible things in the process.
There were two particularly interesting ideas. The first was the concept of ancilliaries. In short, the empire turns captured soldiers into willing collaborators by somehow possessing them with the minds of AIs. This was equal parts chilling and fascinating, though at times, I thought it could have been played with even more. The main character firmly identifies as Justice of Toren, the name of the spaceship it was the AI on. In flashbacks, it is shown to simultaneously being conscious of controlling the ship and in being in the bodies of all its hundreds of ancilliaries. And in the present, it definitely considers itself to be Justice of Toren, with no consideration given to whoever the body it is in originally was. While this is intriguing, I sometimes felt it could have been taken further. I never quite got a real sense of how the AIs sense of self functioned in the days when it was still spread across lots of people.
The second interesting idea was around gender and pronouns. The Radh (the colonists who created the main character) have no sense of gender and use one generic pronoun, which is translated as "she". It was unclear whether they are biologically unisex or have just abandoned all cultural constructs around gender. But the way the narrator referred to everyone (including those outside of the Radh, who had standard conceptions of gender) as "she" (despite the fact many of them turned out to be biologically male and identify that way) created a weird disconnect.
The plot and characters were less engaging than the world building and ideas, but still perfectly fine to keep you reading..
Overall, I found this a different and enjoyable read. I will probably read the sequel at some point, but don't feel in any rush to pick it up.
Although some people cannot seem to get their heads around it, it is actually an easy concept to grasp. A spaceship in this book has artificial intelligence, and to function properly it has people connected to it, so that it can carry out maintenance, send out scouts and assist with the everyday running of the vessel. These people are then like robots to a certain extent. These are people who have been ‘bridged’ with the AI, and so no longer have their own consciousness and are all connected, so what one knows or sees, theoretically all the other parts do.
This has the usual tropes you would expect, such as an evil empire as such, and the other elements, but there is certainly some fun here as our ancillary unit does have trouble communicating in languages that have gender specific pronouns, not sure if what she is going to say will cause offence. We only know really a few of the characters’ actual gender, which leaves us if we want to try and work out the other ones.
Taking in revenge and working on deeper levels, this does raise questions such as what is free will, and do we have it? And, also what happens when an ancillary unit is the last left of a ship, due to destruction, and what will it do, and other issues that can arise when humans become too interconnected with technology and possible unintended outcomes.
With flashbacks to the past, as well as the present time this novel is set, so we end up with something that is certainly worth reading and is exciting and enjoyable, with action and some derring-do.