The SFFaudio Podcast #282 – Jesse, Tamahome, Bryan Alexander, and Julie Davis discuss Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie.
Talked about on today’s show:
a recent novel, Hugo Award, Nebula Award, a long novel, a genderless society, an absence of vocabulary, a politics-biology-language fusion, a light space opera, a murder mystery, a multi-body perspective, foreshadowing a sequel, confusing historical allusions, empire, imagination, personal story, dialogic, magnetic fiction in space, a puppet-like main character, mysterious actions, an unsatisfactory explanation, slave women, a fight for emancipation, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, auxiliaries, the story of Spartacus, Roman family bonding, Jane Austen, dystopia, slaves into servants, expected violence, Roman colonization, a distinct approach to human ethics, the Old Testament, old-fashioned faith, short stories, key words, views of reality, spiritual progress, omnipotent deities, reconstructed ancient religions, J.R.R Tolkien, Lieutenant Ahn, Hindu deities, tea, Jo Walton, coffee, Japanese morality, Shintoism, Horrible Histories, Scholastic books, Frank Herbert, religious engineering, Hellstrom’s Hive by Frank Herbert, government religion, Dune by Frank Herbert.
Posted by Jesse Willis
3 thoughts to “The SFFaudio Podcast #282 – READALONG: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie”
Very interesting discussion. The question is raised of why Breq saves Seivarden (“save”-arden) at the beginning and later on the bridge. The whole story is about her exceptional gift for empathy, coming in part from the loss of her captain with whom she was bonded very closely by implant technology and by personal sympathy, and in part from the loss of all her other selves. There is also the sympathy with Seivarden who like her had been reduced to next to nothing by the loss of his family’s wealth and status. Both are shards of something bigger that is now lost: http://xenoswarm.wordpress.com/2014/08/02/review-ancillary-justice/
I finished reading the ebook of Ancillary Justice about a week ago. Loved it, even the final third.
Breq’s motivations are confused, intentionally, I think. We learn early on that she wants to kill The Lord of Radch, and soon after, in a back-story segment, that the Lord inhabits multiple bodies. Breq clearly knows this, yet still has had that goal for the past 19 years. Why is this? I think the answer is revenge at the killing of Lt Awn and the destruction of Justice of Toren. Breq’s sense of justice is strong, and her love (as Ship) for Awn is obvious. She is acting partially as an AI and partially, after 19 years living as a human, as an independent thinking person.
In the end, Breq makes it clear that killing the Lord of Radch is only part of her motivation. She wants to halt the ever expanding or Racdhaai Space, the annexations and hardship this brings to the people being conquered. Much of her desire to do so stems from the ethics of Awn.
As for religion, I see no problem with this. The story is set 1,000s of years in the future when humans have colonised distant parts of the Galaxy. Even if religion is absent at the start of such colonisations, given the passage of centuries and distinct cultures there is every chance of fresh religions appearing. A coping mechanism of our social human species. I found the description of temples and priests / monks compelling and thoroughly believable.
On the parallels with history of the Roman Empire discussed in the podcast, I don’t see the need to make such comparisons. Ann Leckie’s universe stands on its own.
On the lack of gender distinction, this worked for me. It’s nothing to do with the AI’s inability to conceive of different genders. It’s simply Radch culture. Seems like a very natural potential development in a universe where a blurring has occurred in male/female roles in commerce and the military. Meanwhile, some cultures (outside of the Radchaai realm) retain the male/female pronouns in speech, resulting in almost enexplicable difficulties for breq when trying to deal with basic human interactions.
OK. So I loved Ancillary Justice, and thoroughly enjoyed reading the ebook. Perhaps that’s part of the answer for those that didn’t find it quite so enjoyable. I haven’t tried the audio book, although I am tempted to listen to it. That said, the remarks about robot-like reading aren’t encouraging.
PS. This is the first SSFAudio podcast I’ve listened to. I’ll be back :)
…and Asimov’s Foundation series… No religion? Sure, it’s not heavy on the religious aspects in the way Ancillary Justice is, but the Second Foundation manipulates other human populations to the extent that they are perceived as religious overlords, not to be questioned.