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Ancestral Night

(White Space #1)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  485 ratings  ·  108 reviews

A space salvager and her partner make the discovery of a lifetime that just might change the universe in this wild, big-ideas space opera from multi award-winning author Elizabeth Bear.

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 a powerful ancient tech

Kindle Edition, 512 pages
Published March 7th 2019 by Gollancz (first published March 5th 2019)
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Popular Answered Questions
Elizabeth Bear I don't know. I can make a pretty good argument in both directions, however.
Elizabeth Bear Yes! It does absolutely work as a stand-alone.
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3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  485 ratings  ·  108 reviews

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Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
I had some really good fun with this book. The transhumanist elements, from all the various augs for the mind, body, and all the relevant lock-ins required to pilot, communicate, or engineer spacecraft is something I always tend to enjoy. It's realistic. After all, our bodies are such weak meat sacks. :)

In this case, our MC is got at from several directions all at once. Memory, behavior modification, social and political nastiness, all the way up to full and voluntary body control for the Space
Peter Tillman
Slow start -- in fact, I kept dozing off* -- but she hits her stride around 100 pp in. A scary sheriff who's a giant mantis! *Deep* space stuff, with the Synarche, Bear's take on IMB's Culture, and pretty well thought-out. Though the exposition took the form of a college bull-session look-alikes, a fine sleep-aid! But now we're up to a Sexy Pirate babe with mystery Superpowers, and Our Heroine is discovering her own Superpowers too**, which she acquired investigating a horrible crime. And her sa ...more
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know how many times I came really close to abandoning this book. From the very start, I struggled, and found the text slow and the world puzzling. Then, something happened around the 40% mark, and I started to get a good feel for the book. I still found that the text was slower to get through than I liked, but I persevered, and have to say that I enjoyed this book.

Haimey, Connla and Singer (their sentient spaceship) are salvage operators. They're given a tip about a ship, and once there,
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
A far-future post-scarcity space opera that owes a lot to Iain M. Banks (well-acknowledged in text), particularly in looking at the overall structure of society and an individual's place in it.

Haimey Dz and her small crew of space salvage operators stumble across the scene of an atrocity and an abandoned ship. An incident that occurs as part of the investigation of the abandoned ship leaves Haimey in particular the focus of pursuit and acquisition by pirates. All of which is a catalyst for Haime
Brian Clegg
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Lashaan Balasingam (Bookidote)
You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.

To imagine the future is a challenge that can be quite daunting. The intricate details that allow us to distinguish what is possible in the years to come from what is of the domain of dreams are what help sell worlds and universes to a reader. Without falling into a trap where too much exposition gives you more elements to marinate in and question its authenticity, some authors are able to paint a much more self-contained and genuine cosmos rath
S. Naomi Scott
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 20, 2015 marked it as maybe-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-publication
idk but i just really love this title
Mar 25, 2019 added it
Not too long ago, I was writing about a book co-written by Elizabeth Bear and bemoaning the lack of pirates therein. Now, just two months later, I am writing about her most recent novel, and you know what? It not only has pirates in it, but they’re space pirates! To paraphrase Goethe, some days one feels seriously tempted to believe that there may exist a benevolent God after all.

Ancestral Night is, I think, Elizabeth Bear’s first straightforward Science Fiction novel since her Jacob’s Ladder tr
Bonnie McDaniel
This book pretty much hit all my sweet spots.

A memorable voice and a deep dive into the history and character of the protagonist? Check.

A smart-ass AI with tremendous loyalty to his friends? Check.

A far-future world with a multispecies empire of questionable moral authority (to say the least--artificial manipulation of hormones and brain chemicals to fit in is an accepted and even mandated thing)? Check.

A thoughtful exploration of the issues raised by said empire? Check.

Ships as big as plane
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.
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.
May 16, 2018 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition

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  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
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  ·  review of another edition
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 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
The most interesting thing about this book was all the psychology discussions. The plot got a little muddled, but I did in general like the protagonist. There were a few too many small winks at classic literature and "quaint" notions of the societies of the past, but I found it an okay social SF book.
Pablo V
Is a night out for tomorrow night
Die Handlung geht am Anfang extrem langsam voran. Dadurch kann der Roman aber seine Figuren aufbauen, die dann im letzten Drittel in die Vollen gehen.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great premis, delivery though was wrapped up in the angst of "who am I?" and "should i eat the shrimp on a cracker even though I'm starving". Not my favorite from a respected author.
Slonina Kowalska
I'm halfway through and still no sign of a plot - just a lot of random encounters. I'm assuming the plot is not forthcoming. Some fun ideas and writing isn't bad, but in general it seems disjointed and pointless. DNF
Marsha Wallace
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
Chad Cressley
The first half the book is a little slow, but the overall plot isn’t bad. The real downside is the pathetic protagonist and unlikable antagonist. The only enjoyable characters are supporting characters, and they aren’t around enough.

It doesn’t help that it’s written in first person.
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A member of a small salvage ship is infected with illegal tech and is on the run from the pirates that were harvesting the technology on the derelict ship. Halmey, Connla and the ship AI Singer are on the run from the pirates and trying to report the crime to authorities that will listen to them. The pirates beat them to their port of choice and try to recruit Halmey to their cause to use the tech she has become infected with. The pirates seem to know more about her past history than either her ...more
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
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