DFW Planetary Society Book Club discussion

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1)
This topic is about Ancillary Justice
Ancillary Justice > Finished book, spoiler-town.

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Mark | 87 comments So I finished the book. I'll wait for others before writing much, but I have to admit, not as bad as I thought it would be. That said, unless our Fearless Leaders decide otherwise I won't be reading the rest of the series :)

Jessica | 82 comments Mod
Ok done! That honestly was not what I had expected.

I'm prepared for spoiler-y conversation. :p

Mark | 87 comments I'll have to make this short because busy-ness.
Pros: I like the idea of a distributed thinking being developing factions within themselves. That is cool.
Cons: It took way too long to give the reader a reason to care about anything going on. The characters were flat and faceless with no motivation. The villain, although with a neat split personality idea, was still flat. Slim on characters, plot and technology. And the gender thing doesn't SEEM to have been some political thing but was still annoying.

Jessica | 82 comments Mod
I had a hard time with the gender thing. Markie mentioned that the audio version made that a lot easier because of tone. I would probably agree with the assertion that the characters generally felt flat, though it could be argued that with One Esk as the narrator that it was intentional. Unfortunately that also meant I didn't feel very attached to any of the characters.

I did enjoy it in general though. The split AI stuff is really fascinating. I really enjoyed One Esk's conversation with the ship before she blew up the shuttle.

I have a lot of questions that didn't get answered, but I don't know that I'll dive into the rest of the series.

Markie (vegoego) | 90 comments Mod
So, I finally finished the book today on my way to work.
It's been a while since I've felt so conflicted about my feelings towards a story.

First off, to be fair, I'm a very character driven book lover. I will adore most stories in any setting as long as the characters make me love them.
Since the main character is...well...a robot, to super duper simplify what she/he/it is, her emotions are hard to relate to. Sure, she loved Lt. Awn, but she was also a mind that spread across many different bodies and wasn't exactly human.

Alright. The pronoun thing.
I hate it. I get it, I appreciate it, but I hate it.

I think Shaleah said it perfectly when I was explaining this book to her. She said (I'm paraphrasing), "If you're going to craft a society that doesn't use pronouns or have established genders, why wouldn't you make up a pronoun?"
That's how I feel about it too. I was confused through the whole mess, especially since the characters were already hard to relate to and adore as it was. This made it 10x worse, to me.
Like Jess stated above, if I haden't been listening to the audio book, I would have no idea who everyone was.

Because, while I appreciate what I think Leckie was trying to do, I need pronouns to know who the hell is talking or being talked about!

I ended up liking the ending, the relationship between One Esk and Seivarden was really funny and kind of adorable. Seivarden's character grew into someone I really liked, when I really hated him to start with. What a jerk. He still is, but now he's a loyal, almost lovable jerk.
One Esk is cool, over all a badass, so I grew to like her too.

Mianaai having multiple personalities was pretty cool. I guess he has...clones? I assume that's answered in other books.

+10 cute to baby Mianaai at the end.

I really had to trudge through this book to finish it, but about 70% through I started actually caring what happened next. I ended up giving it 3 stars because I enjoyed the last bit of the ride, even though it was a hot mess to start with.

Maybe the other books are better, since this one had to world build and explain a pretty complex AI, government and so on.

But yeah, we probably won't read the others in the series as a part of the club. Haha.

Mark | 87 comments So I liked the idea of Mianaai, but who IS Mianaai? That really struck me at the end, that the story is so very much going to be about "her?" (ugh), but we don't really no anything about the ruler of the empire.

David Marchbanks | 16 comments Sorry I am late to the game! I finally finished the book and will try to be more timely with the next ones. I have to say that I really enjoyed this book. I'll talk about why!

I sort of made up my mind to strap in and enjoy the ride in the beginning when the reader doesn't quite know what is going on in the universe of this book, and slowly but surely the nature of this society starts to emerge. I liked the idea that they have discovered a way to spread consciousness between people, although there is a lot left to be explained about how they accomplish that and what that actually does to the people who are turned into Ancillaries.

It is true that much of the book seemed a bit emotionless and clinical in its dealings with characters, but I think the Leckie did a great job of unfolding this as One Esk was slowly coming to terms with her own emotions and independence to have feelings an opinions.

I thought the prose was straight-forward and approachable which I appreciate in a classic space opera. There was also some interesting exploration of what personhood means and classic tropes of virtuosity winning out over blind obedience. It was also an interesting take on social commentary of questioning the virtue of the conquering empire that is forcing a "better and more evolved" lifestyle on its "uncivilized" neighbors by virtue of conquest and the fear of death or brainwashing. I thought it was thought provoking and interesting.

As to the pronoun thing, it really didn't bother me at all. It felt like a thought provoking exercise more than anything. Since it wasn't central or necessary to the story at all it didn't detract anything for me. It was an interesting take on things though, simply removing the mindset of the Radchaai even more from that of us humans of 21st century Earth. It was just interesting for me to think of how differently it would be if female were the assumptive gender for us. For so long it has been the other way around so I just enjoyed this as a thought exercise.

There wasn't a lot in the way of heavy scientific discussion, but that didn't really bother me. It definitely added to the prose remaining straight-forward. It was enjoyable and thought provoking without being heavy.

I will most likely be reading the others in the series. I enjoyed the character development through the eyes of a protagonist who is becoming a character herself after thousands of years of being a piece of hardware and a weapon. I liked that through the eyes of the lower class, but supremely loyal and virtuous Awn, One Esk begins learning what it might mean to become, if not in fact human, more like what a human should be. Interesting concept.

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