Joel Gerber
Joel Gerber asked:

I didn't quite understand the genders of characters in this book. Everyone is referred to as a female, but that might be because the ship cannot tell the difference? Seems odd since the ship can tell almost everything else about a person's mood.

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Cassandra Breq's first language does not specify gender in any way. She refers to everyone in a feminine form because the language (English) it's "translated" into doesn't have a widely recognized gender neutral pronoun and so she picks one and uses it for everyone. All Radchaii speakers have this problem when trying to speak other languages because it's not something they typically have to think about.

When Breq was Justice of Toren, she most probably could tell the gender of everyone on board considering she had access to their hormone levels. Cut off from that, she has no way of knowing. The things that societies use to mark gender vary widely from place to place and time to time. Not to mention that their are those who challenge them either intentionally to make a political statement or simply because they like something that is marked as a different gender than themselves. (Think of men who wear earrings, women with sort hair, cross dressers, what you assume about a baby in pink, etc)

And you are correct that she can't often tell the difference and when she knows doesn't seem to care unless she's speaking aloud to someone else. Sevairden Vendaii (sp? that's from memory, I don't have the book on hand) is male. Breq refers to him as she the entire time except when she is speaking with the doctor Strigan in Nilt. Most everyone else is left up to you to figure out if you wish, but we can reasonably assume that not everyone in the book is female.
Stormrunner Here is the answer from the author herself:

And a Wired article about it:

The AI ships can certainly tell the physical difference between genders, but you have to try to think of this from the perspective of the Radchaai. In their society, gender is completely irrelevant to dating, social issues, etc. So they AI can see (with cameras, etc) that one body has male genitalia and one body has female genitalia, but the AI being a product of the Radchaai, it doesn't matter in any way that is relevant to the story.
Przemek Because nowadays messing up gender pronouns is required to buy critics praise. Forget about excellent storytelling or interesting characters and go for politics and/or other agendas and you will be noticed.
Boris Budeck AI not being able to differentiate between male/female seems to be odd and is quite impausible. They have the required sensors and they can interpret the concept. Even the strange Radch are biological beings that seem to reproduce in a way that makes gender distinction natural and pausible. It could be a cultural thing to use the same word for both genders - then it would definitely not be "she" or "he" in the English translation. The author most likely used it as a tool (maybe for a yet unknown reason) instead of doing some lingustics resreach.
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by Ann Leckie (Goodreads Author)
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