Tag Archives: ann leckie

Provenance

UnknownI received this book from the publisher at no cost.

I really really liked this book. It’s very different from the Ancillary books, despite being set in the same universe; the concerns are different and the setting is different. What’s not different is the awesomeness of the writing itself, and the sheer excellence of the story and that the characters are delightfully well-rounded and gripping.

I told you I liked it.

Some of the things I really liked are minorly spoilery, so they’re below, but at heart it’s a ripping good story with characters I genuinely cared about in a society that’s just different enough to be alien and similar enough to be familiar, with the differences being intriguing. There’s political shenanigans and surprising coincidences and sibling rivalry and questionable identities…. Also, if you have read the Ancillary books (in no way necessary, although there is a tangential spoiler for the books), it’s fun to see how other societies view the Radch (unsurprisingly, with suspicion).

It appears to be a stand-alone, in case unfinished trilogies put you off. I didn’t quite read it in a day, but close. I adore Imray, the main character, a lot.

These spoilers don’t spoil the story, but just in case you want to discover them yourself:

SPOILERS:
1. The gender stuff! Choosing your own gender and your own name! With THREE options, and no suggestion that there’s any link to any physical bits! Such a neat way of doing it. And it’s just… there… and doesn’t play a role in the plot itself, because really why should gender play a part in what someone can do? As I write this I realise that that’s actually really significant: Imray has chosen to be female but there’s no suggestion that she is impaired by that, and none of the non-binary folk are hampered by their choice either… they’re all just people.

2. The vestiges! I see this as a nod to the Roman lares, the household gods, and the fact that leading families would have remnants from their famous ancestors to boost their own standing. But of course heaps of people do this sort of thing – investing objects with numinous power – just look at celebrity objects that get sold for stupid amounts of money. I loved that even when the authenticity (provenance!) of objects was questioned, Imray realised that in one sense at least it doesn’t matter if an object is genuine, because of the way it accumulates power and authority thanks to how people think about it. I really, really enjoyed this aspect.

3. Imray herself. Her appearance is largely irrelevant to the plot, which I really only noticed the one of two times that it <i>was</i> mentioned, in passing. And those mentions were about things like a particular space suit not being designed with someone of her roundness in mind. This is a person who’s not tiny but… no one cares. Also, she cries several times – and is never criticised for it, never made to feel like that’s a weak, womanly thing to do. She tries not to cry, a few times, so as not to betray her emotions – but it’s not gendered.

Galactic Suburbia

In which Galactic Suburbia becomes a five-time Hugo nominated podcast… you can get us from itunes or at Galactic Suburbia 

WHAT’S NEW ON THE INTERNET?

Hugo shortlist

Also the Nommo shortlist (from the African Speculative Fiction Society)

CULTURE CONSUMED

Alisa: The 45th; S-Town; Sea Swept, Nora Roberts

Tansy: Lotus Blue, Cat Sparks; Buffy rewatch

Alex: New York 2140, Kim Stanley Robinson; the Ancillary series, Ann Leckie; season 2 and most of 3 of Person of Interest; Last Cab to Darwin

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

New Galactic Suburbia!

Feedback episode! Thanks so much for all your emails, tweets and voicemails. You can listen to us via iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia.

What Culture Have we Consumed?

Tansy: Andre Norton Sargasso of Space; I am Princess X, Cherie Priest; The Wicked & The Divine, by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie; Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.

Alex: Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie; Newt’s Emerald, Garth Nix; Zeroes, Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, Deb Biancotti.

You can Skype us to leave a short message about any of our topics or episodes, to be included in a future show.

03 90164171 (within Australia) +613 90164171 (from overseas)

Otherwise, please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Ancillary Mercy

This book was provided to me by the publisher at no cost.

Spoilers ahead for Ancillary Justice (reviews here and here – yes I loved it enough to review it the second time around) and Ancillary Sword.

Unknown-1Sooo… first thing to admit: it took me reading someone else’s review to realise that Justices, Swords and Mercies are all the sorts of ships that Breq is in charge of. How embarrassing that I did not realise that.

Secondly: yes, I love this series, I love Leckie’s work, I love Breq and the world she inhabits. My love is true and remains unshaken.

Further note: I’m just going with ‘she’ to refer to everyone, when I have to. I think there’s one person whose gender is actually confirmed (… maybe…insofar as that ever can be in these books) and it just does violence to my brain to go with he/she when Leckie herself (ahaha) goes with SHE. So nyer.

As with Justice to SwordMercy starts almost immediately Sword finishes off. I quite like this, since it means there doesn’t need to be any tedious filling in of blanks. It also means I’d like to see an omnibus edition where you can just read the whole lot, start to finish. It wouldn’t even be that much bigger than a complete edition of The Lord of the Rings. Breq continues to have issues with Anaander Mianaai, ruler of the Radch and therefore of civilisation as the Radch defines it… Continue reading →

Galactic Suburbia 119

Belated show notes!
In which there are fast cars, ancillary swords, Vote! Helsinki! t-shirts, feminist serial killer narratives and answer the all important question: was watching all of Lost worth it, Alisa? You can get us from iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia.

Defying Doomsday funded!

Tiptree Award
Philip K Dick:

Alex’s plan for Hugo reading.

Upcoming episode: being ok with being feminist. Request for links! Send us vids, articles, book titles etc. to recommend to teens.

Vote for Helsinki for Worldcon 2017!

What Culture Have we Consumed?

Tansy: Avengers: Age of Ultron, DC: Convergence, The Fall (Netflix Original)
Alisa: Reign, Lost
Alex: Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie; Incandescence, Greg Egan; Book of Strange New Things, Michael Faber; Fast&Furious 7; Avengers: Age of Ultron

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Ancillary Sword

Spoilers for Ancillary Justice (first review and second review).

UnknownI loved this second book possibly not quite as much as the first, for which my love burns for its originality as well as its characters and action; but it’s a true love nonetheless, for a book once again dealing with complex issues without making them un-complex, and for characters who aren’t cardboard, and a plot that – stripped back – is really very straight forward but that kept me reading voraciously.

The issues are similar to Justice, as you would expect, although with a different emphasis. Of course the gender aspect is still there; yes I still found myself wondering whether that deadbeat was female or male, that that leader a man or a woman, and so on. A little bit less than when reading Justice, I hope, since I read this immediately after my re-read and I was a bit more in practise of just reading ‘she’ and remembering that genitalia is irrelevant. More importantly, and indeed driving the action to a much greater extent than in Justice, are the twinned notions of imperialism and colonialism. How does an empire genuinely make sure all of its new citizens are treated like the old ones? How does an empire deal with pre-existing racial and other tensions that are going to manifest even though you’re all now officially the same? And then you add corruption to the mix and of course things will not be pretty. And THEN, into that mix, you add someone new – someone with a powerful sense of justice – and you watch how things fall, and which things blow up.

It amazed me to discover that Leckie is an American, what with her Radchaai obsession with tea.

Breq continues to develop across this novel. Justice saw her get some form of justice, and then has her direction changed by Mianaai herself. She has more time, here, to reflect on the pain of losing Awn, and the pain of losing the majority of herself; there are some intriguing moments where Leckie thinks through what it would be like to be that one, remaining, very small part of something previously so large. How does that one small segment develop an identity? Does that experience bestow compassion or impatience with others experiencing similar issues of dislocation?

I was pleased to have Seivarden sticking around, and not be so whingy as in the first. I am very pleased with the new characters introduced; they provide neat foils for Breq and Seivarden. One baby lieutenant with issues (oh how I love the discussions of baby lieutenants and how they are brought up by ships and crews)

My prediction for the third book: it will have to deal with the alien Presger, as well as the outcome of the civil war within Mianaai herself. In fact, I don’t really see how this can be resolved in just one more book. MOAR BOOKS, LECKIE.

Ancillary Justice

This is my second time around in reading this book. I knew I needed to reread it before reading Ancillary Sword. You can read my original review over here.

9780356502403-177x177Multiple spoilers ahead!

I still found the almost exclusive use of ‘she’ to be quite disconcerting, and I feel like I noticed those few times that someone is ‘properly’ gendered more than I did the first time I read it. I still found myself trying to pick gender clues from behaviour and descriptions, which of course says something about me… and also quite a lot about Leckie, since I really don’t think she enables such a reading of anyone. I have absolutely no clue what sort of genitalia Lieutenant Awn had.

Because I wasn’t so staggered by the gender issue this time I believe I felt the imperialism/colonialism aspect more. The Radch is a monumentally arrogant civilisation – and I felt very keenly those discussions about how such a sentence would be constructed in their language, since the word for ‘civilised’ IS the word FOR their civilisation, and for themselves: Radch. So this arrogance, this narrow vision, is constructed into their language – while I’m not a complete subscriber to the notion that language creates reality, it certainly has an impact on our perception of such. Leckie herself notes the similarities between the Radch and the Roman Empire, which is useful both for the yes and the no. Make new peoples citizens, subsume/ align their gods with your, but use ‘corpse soldiers’ to help make it work and have a bunch of apparently random cultural hang-ups.

I loved the gloves thing this time. I could drive myself mad trying to figure out how a culture develops a horror of bare hands except in the most intimate of circumstances.

I’m not sure I noticed the descriptions of skin colour last time (oh the advantages of being white). Much like the people of Earthsea, the Radch are dark-skinned… which is neither here nor there in the book’s greater scheme of plot and character and theme, but is nonetheless important in the greater scheme of, you know, the world.

Another aspect I feel I appreciate more deeply this time around is the religion. Everyone, basically, is religious. All of the ships are named after religious figures; all of the decades of soldiers likewise. There is an expectation that senior soldiers will pray and cast the omens each morning. Each new planet has their own religion whose parallels with the Radch’s own must be found – and there’s even discussion of a problematic, exclusively-monotheistic bunch who have caused issues in the past, who basically appear atheist to the Radch: either horrifying or bemusing, depending on your attitude. Not everyone is especially devout, but there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that religion belongs in humanity and in space and everywhere there are humans. This is refreshing.

Finally, the plot. Even though I did have some memory of how everything was going to play out (that notorious memory of mine), I still found it gripping. The massacre of civilians to the death of Awn, the gradual change in Seivarden, the drama at Omaugh: it’s not the most fast-paced space opera I’ve ever read, but it is definitely compelling and in no way just a vehicle for discussing Important Issues.

Galactic Suburbia 107

In which, Alisa and Tansy debrief Alex on their Worldcon adventure: The Ritz, the books, the people, the Hugos, the ribbons, the concrete wasteland, and the jet lag. Get us at iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia.

Here are the magic stats from the Hugo Awards.

If you still don’t have your copy of Kaleidoscope, here are some places you can buy it.

Check out the full Ustream footage of the Hugo awards.

Fakecon in all its glory

Tansy’s post-Loncon Jet Lag Links

Alisa’s Debriefs:

1 – Yarn Edition
2 – Dealer’s Room
3 – The Ritz
4 – The Hugos

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Galactic Suburbia 93!!

In which 2014 is officially a thing. Who saw that coming?

We’re back! How did you spend your summer? (yes, we know some of you spent it having winter, but honestly, is that our fault?)

Galactic Suburbia returns for a fresh new year of culture consumed, awards commentary, feminist snark and adorable baby gurgles.

Culture Consumed:

Alex: On the Steel Breeze, Alastair Reynolds; Riddick; The Deep: Here be Dragons; Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales (ed Paula Guran)

Alisa: Haven S1 and S2; Star Trek; Kaleidoscope submissions (PhD)

Tansy: Terry Pratchett: The Witches (board game), The Hour Season 1, A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan; When we Wake; Courtney Milan romance novels.

Pet subject: Gearing Up for Hugo Nominations – what we’ve read, what we recommend, and what we still plan to get to before the deadline.

Alisa: Reading – Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar, Coldest Girl in Cold Town by Holly Black

Alex: Saga; Ancillary Justice; Iron Man 3; still to watch Game of Thrones s3

Tansy: Still to read: Hild by Nicola Griffith, The Red by Linda Nagata, some novellas. Liz Bourke’s Sleeping with Monsters (Best Related Work or fan writer? Why doesn’t the Hugo have an Atheling?) Kirstyn McDermott’s Caution: Contains Small Parts. Supurbia (Graphic Story); The World’s End.

Galactic Suburbia Award!!

for activism and/or communication that advances the feminist conversation in the field of speculative fiction

Send us your suggestions and thoughts on who we should be looking at for the year that was 2013: blog posts, podcasts, GOH speeches and other awesome people talking about feminist stuff in interesting ways.

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Galactic Suburbia 91

mspacmanIn which Alisa has a baby, and Alex & Tansy put a bow on it. Not the baby. The podcast!

Birth Announcement: Welcome to Mackenzie Charlotte & all our love and best wishes to the recovering and delighted new parents, Alisa and Chris.

World Fantasy Awards
British Fantasy Awards

Culture Consumed:

Alex: Feminist Frequency’s Tropes vs Women in Video Games; Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie; Menial: Skilled Labor in SF, Kelly Jennings and Shay Darrach

Tansy: Nanowrimo! Cranford, Elizabeth Gaskell; Horrible Histories; Wife in Space by Neil Perryman, The Time Machine (Destiny of the Doctor), 1963: Fanfare of the Common Men, The Space Race, The Assassination Games; Night of the Doctor

INK BLACK MAGIC BY TANSY RAYNER ROBERTS available now from Fablecroft, Amazon & bookshops who order it in.

GOODREADS GIVEAWAY FOR INK BLACK MAGIC

Doctor Who Women on the Radio including Tansy

Pet subject: SFF for children (they cross genres more easily than adults, basically)

Alex: Victor Kelleher (especially Taronga); Playing Beatie Bow, Ruth Park; Riddle of the Trumpalar, Judy Bernard-Waite; The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien

Tansy: Diana Wynne Jones; Robyn Klein (Halfway Across the Galaxy and Turn Left); Which Witch, Eva Ibbotson; Margaret Mahy, Aliens in the Family and all her books about pirates; Ruth Chew; Five Children and It, E. Nesbit; Edward Eagar (Half Magic and Seven Day Magic – stories for kids who love to read and know how to manage a magical adventure!); comics like Gunnerkrigg Court, Zita the Space Girl, Betty & Veronica spin-offs. The Case of the Origami Yoda bridging fantasy and reality!

Also Possum Magic, Magic Pudding, and other Australian picture-book classics! From England, Charlie and Lola by Lauren Child and various books such as Fairy Shopping by Sally Gardner are appreciated for their gorgeous collage art as much as the stories.

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!