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Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1)
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BotM Discussion - SCI-FI > Ancillary Justice / Overall Discussion **NO SPOILERS**

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message 1: by John (last edited Feb 03, 2014 06:56AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

John (johnred) Hi Everyone! Let's talk about Ancillary Justice! Make sure to put and spoilers in spoiler tags for this thread, and then later if we want we can have a free-for-all open spoiler discussion.

I'm almost halfway through now - definitely enjoying it. There are a few clumsily written bits of exposition (particulary involving the characters' backstories) but other than that I think it's handled really well, especially considering how much of a challenge it must have been to clearly write a protagonist with multiple viewpoints, not to mention the lack of gender pronouns. All in all it comes across very well.

I think it's really interesting that because gender is left ambiguous, two different readers could experience the story with some fairly big differences. Superficial differences maybe...but big superficial differences :)

I'm really curious if we'll find out why the Radchaii always wear gloves? Is it just some random cultural thing? Or are we going to get an explanation?


message 2: by Rinn, Captain of the SSV Normandy (last edited Feb 03, 2014 09:28AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Rinn (rinnsohma) | 3456 comments Mod
Oooh a no spoiler chat! =D Well I haven't started this one yet - I'm reading Mistborn first, then probably another ARC and then Ancillary Justice. Need to charge the Kindle first, haha...


Helen French (helenfrench) | 37 comments Loved this book. A rare five star for me.

I wondered about the gloves too - in a way it isn't important, a nice touch I suppose, but it left me intrigued.

I agree with the gender issue - I was reading some reviews of it elsewhere and everyone seemed to read it in different ways. Some people really struggled with not knowing (100%) the gender of the main character, or the fact that one character would be called male by someone else, then 'she' again by Breq.

It didn't bother me, but I'm one of those readers who doesn't really care if characters are given physical descriptions or not - they appear in my head regardless.

I think it is a book where it helps to have an idea of what the plot is upfront. If you don't know (mild spoiler) that Breq is merely part of a larger consciousness, then the beginning is going to be a bit confusing.

More thoughts later :)


John (johnred) "I think it is a book where it helps to have an idea of what the plot is upfront."

Totally agree with this...Normally it does kind of annoy me when I have to change my mental image of a character based on new information -- but I actually kind of like it in this book. In a way, since I was prepared for it going in, it just becomes part of the book's mystery.


message 5: by Roger, Knight Radiant (new) - rated it 2 stars

Roger | 1998 comments Mod
I'm about 1/3 to 1/2 done with this book and though I find it quite good I also find it quite confusing. Does anyone else find the gender thing to be as confusing as I do? I have no clue who the main character is talking about half the time and I just can't keep a good mental image of any of the characters in my head.


message 6: by Noel (last edited Feb 09, 2014 03:40PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Noel (classicanoel) | 10 comments Roger wrote: "I'm about 1/3 to 1/2 done with this book and though I find it quite good I also find it quite confusing. Does anyone else find the gender thing to be as confusing as I do? I have no clue who the ma..."

While the non-genders don't bother me in terms of what the characters are actually doing, I am, like you, finding it very problematic when it comes to visualizing the characters in my head. If the characters were actually androgynous, it would be easier, but they're not. It's simply a quirk of Breq's primary language that there are no gender assignments. As a result the characters are either completely amorphous to me--I can't get a grasp on them--or the gender keeps changing. I'm imagining Breq and Strigan as primarily female even though there hasn't been any indication of gender for either. I initially imagined Awn as female and switched to male, and then back again. It's quite frustrating, but the non-gendered language is an interesting concept, so I'm at least enjoying the challenge.

Regarding the gloves, wasn't there some random reference to a deference to property or some such? Or maybe I've got that backward in my head. Yargh, this is what happens when I try reading two books and two anthologies simultaneously. I'm missing the details.


message 7: by John (last edited Feb 10, 2014 07:55AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

John (johnred) I'm imagining Breq and Strigan as primarily female even though there hasn't been any indication of gender for either. I initially imagined Awn as female and switched to male, and then back again.

I know for sure that Awn was explicitly stated to be male, as was Seivarden...and I'm pretty sure Breq was stated as being female. Other that that, we're on our own so far :) I picture Skiaat and Strigan both as female. Annander Miiani I picture as being totally androgenous in all of her bodies. I'm pretty much picturing Grace Jones for that character.

Speaking of imaginary casting, I might as well have fun and cast a few actors here:
Skiaat - Inga Cadranel
Strigan - Helen Mirren
Awn - Alessandro Juliani
Seivarden - Chiwetel Ejiofor
Breq - Hillary Swank or Franka Potente

A movie adaptation would be REALLY interesting, having 20 actors playing the main character. I think it could be done...wonder if it's been optioned?


message 8: by Noel (last edited Feb 10, 2014 06:42PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Noel (classicanoel) | 10 comments Yeah, even though I'm certain that several, if not most, of Annander Miiani's bodies were male (an idea I came up with from various clues that I may or may not have read correctly), I always, always imagined her as a bunch of (really sinister) little old ladies. I couldn't help it.


Sarah Fairburn | 12 comments I have given up at trying to get gender correct. I have begun ignoring gender assignments in dialogue and instead focus on what Breq thinks or assigns the character. The theories some of you have mentioned about character gender have given me something to think about though as I continue reading. I keep picturing Breq as female though... My mind won't give that up. Seivarden too. Ugh!


message 10: by Nic, Wormhole Technician (new) - rated it 1 star

Nic Margett (enn_eye_cee) | 353 comments Mod
I just plain HATED this book. I found just about everything about it annoying. How many times can one writer mention eyebrows! I'll tell you. 36 times. And the whole gender thing just got on my tits. I don't feel it added anything to the story at all. If I was the kind of person that gives up on books then I would have given up on this about half way in. Unfortunately, my stupid brain had to read it all. I found myself desperate to finish just so I didn't have to be reading it any more. There's no way i'll even think about reading the follow-up book.


message 11: by John (new) - rated it 3 stars

John (johnred) LOL, eyebrows? Really? I honestly don't remember any mention of eyebrows.


message 12: by Roger, Knight Radiant (new) - rated it 2 stars

Roger | 1998 comments Mod
I don't remember the eyebrow thing either, but the more and more I think about this book the more I realize that I didn't really like it. Nothing really stuck to me as real good or real bad, other than the gender thing. I'd say the book was forgettable and I don't see myself reading the next one.


message 13: by John (last edited Feb 21, 2014 12:00PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

John (johnred) I agree, I posted in the "spoilers" thread that I thought it was pretty good but not good enough to continue the series.


message 14: by J (new) - rated it 4 stars

J R I love the eyebrows and other description of subtle emotional states of the characters, this makes the Radchaii culture and society feels real to me, and it makes the book fun to read. I would definitely sign up for the next book in the series.


message 15: by John (last edited Feb 26, 2014 07:39AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

John (johnred) I just searched the book's text, and there are an awful lot of "raised eyebrows". Hmm, I guess I just didn't notice it...

One similar thing that did get on my nerves was how she used vague gestures to communicate that the character was feeling something. Most of the time I had trouble imagining what this gesture could be. A few examples:

Page 81: "I made an indefinite, not my problem gesture with my free hand"
Page 86: "I made an ambiguous gesture"
Page 88: "Seven Issa frowned, and made a doubtful gesture with her left hand, akwardly, her gloved fingers still curled around half a dozen counters"
Page 93: "Lieutenant Awn gestured affirmatively"
Page 94: "Lieutenant Awn gestured doubtfully"
Page 128: "With one hand she made a frustrated, ambivalent gesture"
Page 155: "I gestured, halfway between not my problem and not relevant"

"A doubtful gesture" seems like it's probably a shrug, and "An affirmative gesture" must be a nod (or a thumbs-up?)...but in that case, why not just use "nod" and "shrug"?

Some of the gestures sound strangely specific, like maybe the Radchaii have a secondary gesture-based language of sorts? That would actually be really interesting...


Antonis (antonakis) | 62 comments John wrote: "Some of the gestures sound strangely specific, like maybe the Radchaii have a secondary gesture-based language of sorts? That would actually be really interesting... "

I'm still reading the book but that's exactly what I think about the gesture thing. Soon after coming to terms with the lack of gender differentiation in Radch culture, I started to realize how different this civilization is from what we perceive as standard or what, we as readers, have been used to as a typical anthropocentric future civilization.

As I said I'm still 2/3rds of the way through but to me this is one of the most unique, strange and interesting SF books I've read lately.


message 17: by Freya, Dragon Rider (new) - rated it 4 stars

Freya (flamecat) | 1810 comments Mod
John wrote: "I just searched the book's text, and there are an awful lot of "raised eyebrows". Hmm, I guess I just didn't notice it...

One similar thing that did get on my nerves was how she used vague gesture..."


I actually for some reason didn't imagine this as nods and thumbs up and so on, but more as a load of different hand gestures, as you say like a secondary gesture-based language, like sign language almost. Used on it's own instead of words or perhaps to emphasise a point?


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