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Ancestral Night (White Space #1)
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BOTM READER > Feb 2020 READER: Ancestral Night by Bear

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message 1: by Teresa, Plan B is in Effect (new)

Teresa Carrigan | 2395 comments Mod
The February 2020 Reader Pick is Ancestral Night (White Space, #1) by Elizabeth Bear Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear. Please use this thread to post questions, comments, and reviews, at any time.

Official description:
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 authorities prove corrupt, Haimey realizes that she is the only one who can protect her galaxy-spanning civilization from the implications of this ancient technology—and the revolutionaries who want to use it for terror and war. Her quest will take her careening from the event horizon of the supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s core to the infinite, empty spaces at its edge.

To save everything that matters, she will need to uncover the secrets of ancient intelligences lost to time—and her own lost secrets, which she will wish had remained hidden from her forever.


Trike | 583 comments This sounds right up my alley. I hope it’s good.


message 3: by Brandon (new)

Brandon Harbeke | 125 comments I read Chapter 1 yesterday. Please tell me it picks up from here. If I was reading this just on my own, I would already have DNF'ed it.


Kevin Postlewaite | 1 comments Brandon wrote: "I read Chapter 1 yesterday. Please tell me it picks up from here. If I was reading this just on my own, I would already have DNF'ed it."

I just finished it and thought it was worthwhile and the interesting parts definitely come later in the book. I felt that there was interesting tech later on and some interesting exploration of balancing self vs. group in communities. I also felt that the narrator was excessively neurotic and would have enjoyed the book more if there were less expression of her internal conflict.


Caitlin | 45 comments @Brandon I’m about halfway through and it definitely does pick up after a bit of a slow start. The MC’s voice is more introspective than a lot of space opera characters, which has its effect on the pacing. YMMV but I’m glad I stuck with it.


message 6: by Ryan (new)

Ryan Dash (ryandash) | 41 comments I'll start reading in a week or two.


Mervi | 15 comments I listened this last year and really enjoyed it.


Caitlin | 45 comments I found this a frustrating book in the end. Having had a few days to think about it, it came down to Haimey’s characterization for me. I liked the big-picture space opera elements — ancient tech! Space whales! Snarky shipminds!— but didn’t like the lens of Haimey as a character. I like characters with self-doubt and relatable flaws, but she spends SO much time recounting her flaws and living in her own head that it got a bit exhausting.

A review also gave me the impression going in that Haimey’s character is asexual, which... she’s really not. She’s a lesbian who had her sexual and romantic drives turned off because she couldn’t deal with them emotionally. Which is in no way the same thing, and carries the unfortunate implication that asexual and aromantic people are incomplete or immature. It left a bad taste in my mouth and I’m a little hesitant to read anything else by Bear.


message 9: by Eva (new) - added it

Eva But it's not as if Bear herself marketed the protagonist as asexual! She never made any such claims, she just wrote a character who's lesbian and traumatized and therefore currently uninterested in sex. She isn't responsible for mistaken claims made in reviews, so it's not as if she's making any statements about truly asexual people, right? And people who no longer want to have sex due to trauma making the associated feelings too difficult do exist and also deserve to be represented in fiction.


Caitlin | 45 comments @Eva, that’s fair. I agree it’s important to represent people who have lost interest in sex due to trauma as well.

I tried to be up front that it was the review that misrepresented the book in that respect; after all, Bear didn’t represent the character that way. Asexual rep is still so rare that it’s disappointing to go in expecting it and be let down. Not the author’s fault in this case.


Caitlin | 45 comments Ugh, I meant *not the author’s fault*. Goodreads ate part of my post.


message 12: by Eva (new) - added it

Eva That's true, they are quite rare in literature, at least in terms of explicit representation. And getting a very different book from the one you're expecting and felt like reading can be such a bummer!


Caitlin | 45 comments @Eva, Yeah, the mismatch between my expectations and the book I end up getting can seriously impact my reading experience. Glad I tried it, though.


message 14: by Teresa, Plan B is in Effect (new)

Teresa Carrigan | 2395 comments Mod
Eva wrote: "That's true, they are quite rare in literature, at least in terms of explicit representation. And getting a very different book from the one you're expecting and felt like reading can be such a bum..."
I can think of two fantasy series where the main character is definitely asexual, and I recall reading an article that listed five or six. For SF, when the character is human all I can think of right now is non-main characters where their society messes with hormones so almost everyone stays prepubescent, and similar type things.


Caitlin | 45 comments That might be an interesting themed read for the group, actually: Asexual/Aromantic Protagonist. I recently bookmarked a post collecting a bunch of books with Aro characters in them that could serve as a wellspring of suggestions.


message 16: by Teresa, Plan B is in Effect (new)

Teresa Carrigan | 2395 comments Mod
Caitlin you are welcome to start a topic on that in reader discussions. If we come up with enough suggestions, I’ll make it a theme in an upcoming month.


Caitlin | 45 comments Sounds good! I’ll do some research and see if I can get the thread rolling with examples.


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