Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ancestral Night (White Space, #1)” as Want to Read:
Ancestral Night (White Space, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Ancestral Night

(White Space #1)

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  129 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Haimey Dz thinks she knows what she wants.

She thinks she knows who she is.

She is wrong.

A routine salvage mission uncovers evidence of a terrible crime and relics of powerful ancient technology. Haimey and her small crew run afoul of pirates at the outer limits of the Milky Way, and find themselves on the run and in possession of universe-changing information.

When authoriti
Paperback, 512 pages
Published March 2019 by Gollancz
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ancestral Night, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
really liked it 4.00  · 
Rating details
 ·  129 ratings  ·  36 reviews

Sort order
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
An early moment in Elizabeth Bear’s expansive new space opera Ancestral Night has narrator Haimey Dz offer a meta-commentary on the ancient, 19th century novels she reads during the long hours spent drifting through space: “They’re great for space travel because they were designed for people with time on their hands. Middlemarch. Gorgeous, but it just goes on and on.” Ancestral Night is a busy and boisterous novel, complex and beautifully composed, but also has a tendency to labor its points.
Sherwood Smith

Space opera is back, and at least in the hands of some female writers, it is not even remotely retrogressive in the ways that were standard some thirty years ago.

While portions of this book were claustrophobic in ways that usually lose me, Bear kept me reading as the questions opened outward, and I hoped to see more of certain secondary characters (two of them not human).

For me, space opera has to hit at least some of the following elements:

Larger than life characters with interesting exploratio
I’m stopping. I’m sorry. I made it to 70% and I don’t even have the desire to skip to the end and see how it plays out. I’m putting the content warnings up here in case you don’t want to read my spoiler laden review: (view spoiler)

This is not what I expected it to be. I saw space salvage and space pirates and expected a thrilling action filled plot. Maybe a cat and mouse game, mayb
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
From my Kirkus column

In many ways this book is an excellent pairing with MCU’s recently released Captain Marvel. No, really, hear me out. Both are stories centring women being told what or not to do, told that their emotions are crap and that they should know better, that their choices of how to deal with their emotions are wrong. It is about empowerment, going against what anybody else thinks and finding your own way by embracing your identity, flaws and all. Also fighting against baddies and f
Q: "What’s your elevator pitch for Ancestral Night duology?"
A: “Uber, but for ancient alien artifacts caught in the hinges of space!”

Okay, I’m slightly kidding, but what a great question! It’s not exactly accurate to call it a duology, however. It’s two related books, which will have some continuing characters, but each one should stand on its own as an arc and a story. So I’m structuring it more like Cherryh’s or Banks’s space operas, where a number of independent novels take place in the same
Brian Clegg
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Only a couple of weeks ago, reviewing a 1960s SF book, I bemoaned the fact that science fiction novels of ideas are less common now. Although it is correctly labelled a space opera, Ancestral Night delivers ideas with aplomb.

Let's deal with the space opera aspect first. Elizabeth Bear provides some excellent adventure scenes in space, and we've the usual mix of huge spaceships and interesting aliens. Main character Haimey Dz is an engineer on a ship that salvages wrecks - but, as we gradually di
Nov 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: galley
3.0 out of 5 stars

My first foray into Elizabeth Bear’s work was her excellent 2017 fantasy novel The Stone in the Skull, which I enjoyed immensely. I knew that Bear is known for writing in a multitude of genres, but I wasn’t prepared for the genre whiplash I experienced when I picked up the space opera Ancestral Night. The book follows Haimey Dz, a space salvager who uncovers a piece of ancient alien technology that, in the wrong hands, could be catastrophic for the galaxy at large. ...lo and be
Sep 20, 2015 marked it as maybe-read
Shelves: 2019-publication
idk but i just really love this title
May 16, 2018 marked it as to-read-so-bad-it-hurts

Also, 'about a shoestring space salvage operator who isn’t who she believes herself to be, uncovering the secrets of a universe that is much vaster and more treacherous than she understands. Also, pirates, and politics, and a giant praying mantis space cop' \O/
Kris Sellgren
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Engineer Haimey, pilot Connla, and ship AI Singer are deep space salvage operators. They, and their two cats, follow a lead to discover a derelict ship with really cool technology and evidence of terrible crimes. But pirates attack! Haimey and friends flee to the nearest space station with cops. Pirates are there too! They flee to the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, where they find an even cooler ship with ancient, powerful technology. Is Haimey lucky, or is she being led ...more
Dave Creek
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
In the Author's Note to ANCESTRAL NIGHT, Elizabeth Bear tells us the book came about because her friend and occasional editor Simon Spanton was looking for a "big-idea space opera." She's succeeded in creating a tale that not only brings all the action and excitement we expect from that genre, but some sharp characterizations and some good old-fashioned sense of wonder, and what that wonder means to us.

Halmey Dz is the first-person narrator, a salvage operator aboard a ship called Singer, who i
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
The author is a fine thinker and a talented storyteller but here the two qualities really come into conflict, as the action keeps taking loooong breaks so the characters can engage in extended ruminations and discussions. I felt guilty about skipping the disquisitions...maybe will go back some time and reread for the political and social essays. The storyline is terrific, though, and as for the cast...the outsized preying mantis cop alone is worth the price of admission.
Mar 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Enjoyed the general gist of the book, but large swathes of the book were people discussing the wider purpose of society etc - gave me traumatic flashbacks to philosophy class in high school. It made for a lot of skipping ahead.
Nov 11, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
PW Starred: Anyone who enjoys space opera, exploration of characters, and political speculation will love this outstanding novel, Bear’s welcome return to hard SF after several years of writing well-received steampunk (Karen Memory) and epic fantasy (the Eternal Sky trilogy). As an engineer on a scrappy space salvage tug, narrator Haimey Dz has a comfortable, relatively low-stress existence, chumming with pilot Connla Kuruscz and AI shipmind Singer. Then, while aboard a booby-trapped derelict sh ...more
Dec 27, 2018 marked it as to-read

The enabler named Thomas from SFF180 in their SFF180 🚀 Anticipated Science Fiction 2019 video published on 26 dec. 2018
Marsha Wallace
Mar 16, 2019 rated it liked it
If you’re a fan of internal narration in your sci-fi, this book is the mothership. Haimey Dz is an engineer with extra hands instead of feet aboard a two-man + 1 AI salvage operation, and because space is so big, there’s plenty of time for her to tell you all about her galatarian utopian civilization. She serves a heavy soup of tech terms, but you’ll acquire the taste as you discover the lost technology of an ancient alien race, alongside discovering Haimey’s own past, and then rediscovering it ...more
Joe Crow
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
[Not exactly an impartial reviewer, here; Bear is one of my favorite writers in the entire world, so...just be aware of that, I guess?]

How do you tell what the right thing to do is, when your memory has been suppressed, and the culture you live in solves social problems by editing their own brain chemistry on the fly? How do you trust your own decisions, when you KNOW you make terrible ones, and you’re still trying to make up for them? What’s the moral difference between freedom from mental oppr
Mar 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
2.5 stars

Interesting technical/sci-fi concepts and some fun characters, but way, way too much repetitive inner dialogue to the point that the book could be about half the size and not lose any plot. Plus if I can't have an action-driven space opera I at least want dynamic characters, and this book had neither,

Disappointing after the terrific premise, and as a fan of Ms. Bear.
Maurynne  Maxwell
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved it, glad to see it’s going to be a series. I think James White would appreciate the homage. Best science fiction makes you stretch, and uses present mores and tropes to create a plausible future...this book fits in space opera right along with Busby and Heinlein and Dickson and Bujold and Weber: lots of politics and philosophy mixed in with the suspense.
Louis R.
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now THIS is what a great book looks like

Thoroughly enjoyed this story; it’s a wonderful story with lots of cool innovations and “what if” technology. But much more than that it’s about who we are -to ourselves, to others. It talks about identity, society, and what kind of personhood we construct for ourselves. Bear has added mightily to the genre.
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt, sff-h, space-opera
I really liked this! It’s set in the same universe as the Jacob’s Ladder trilogy, but much later on. I enjoyed the characters (especially Haimey, Singer and Cheeirilaq), the world building, and the way it looks at identity. I'm hoping hoping some of the main characters show up in the second part of the planned duology.
Andrew Sanders
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Worthy Inheritor of the Culture Series

If you really liked Consider Phlebas and you want to read something cool and neat that builds on the concepts set down in those books, then for the love of God read this.
Matt Hope
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
It did not connect with me much. Unfortunately.

I’m unwilling to elaborate because I don’t want to turn this into an unfair rant. It’s not for me. That simple. Maybe I don’t have the patience necessary.
Stuart Rodriguez
Mar 11, 2019 rated it liked it
DNF’ing halfway through. I think there are a lot of SFF fans who will like this book, but I’m bored with the slow-developing plot and don’t particularly like the main character’s voice. On to the next.
Allen Nash
Mar 16, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Poor writing tedious to read

I found it hard to read as the writing was long winded and it mov d at too slow a pace.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Bear is great.
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting. Loved the world building and characters, could have been a bit shorter.
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Yes, please can I have some more?
Pablo V
Mar 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Is a night out for tomorrow night
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Light Brigade
  • Empress of Forever
  • A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan, #1)
  • The Lesson
  • This Is How You Lose the Time War
  • Fall, or Dodge in Hell
  • The City We Became
  • Waste Tide
  • Unconquerable Sun (The Sun Chronicles #1)
  • Gideon the Ninth (The Ninth House, #1)
  • Middlegame
  • The Future of Another Timeline
  • Terminal Uprising  (Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse, #2)
  • The Luminous Dead
  • One Word Kill (Impossible Times, #1)
  • Famous Men Who Never Lived
  • The Hound of Justice (Janet Watson Chronicles #2)
  • A Brightness Long Ago
What Goodreads really needs is a "currently WRITING" option for its default bookshelves...

Other books in the series

White Space (2 books)
  • Machine (White Space, #2)
“One of the interesting things about programming people of all sorts to be more ethical is that it also makes them more ethical about the limits of programming people to be ethical.” 0 likes
“Impatience and cutting corners: it’s the primate way. It got us down out of the trees and up to the top of the evolutionary heap as a species, which is a lot more like a slippery, mud-slick game of King of the Hill with stabbing encouraged than any kind of tidy Victorian great chain of being or ladder of creation.” 0 likes
More quotes…