Singing spaceships: a pre-review of Ancillary Justice

I didn’t even read the blurb on the back of the book (well, it was an e-book) before I started reading Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. The only thing I knew about it was that it won All The Awards in 2014, so I thought I should give it a shot.

Because I didn’t know anything I then had this fantastic experience of figuring out what exactly I was reading about that went something like this:

  1. Protagonist is not human, cool
  2. Protagonist seems to be able to occupy multiple bodies at the same time oh wow EVEN COOLER
  3. wait
  4. is she
  5. yes yes she is A SENTIENT SPACESHIP!!! !!!!!!!!

And at this point I did remember hearing that the main character in Ancillary Justice was agender but somehow what no one mentioned is that the main character is agender BECAUSE SHE’S A SPACESHIP

Sentient ships are super cool, and I don’t know if I’ve ever had one as a first-person narrator before, so I was just happily sitting there thinking that this is great, I am reading a book with a spaceship as the protagonist, how could life get any better?

Then I discovered that the protagonist is a sentient spaceship who LIKES TO SING.

Two of the things I am most excited about in life are science fiction and singing in choirs (I have been singing in at least one continuously since age 6 and I have a personal best of being in 5 at once). I love them both passionately. So a choir of a spaceship’s ancillaries is the unexpected dream I never knew I had coming true.

The result of this—plus all the other awesome things about Ancillary Justice—is that when I tried to write a review I just came up with incoherent all-caps strings of phrases like “SPACE CHOIRS” and “SO AWESOME” combined with exclamation marks. In fact, since reading Ancillary Justice I relate really strongly to the Space Core (Portal 2 spoilers in the link!) for his inability to talk about anything other than space, because I too have suddenly found myself incapable of carrying on a conversation. The person I am talking to will be trying to say something about the weather or work and all I can respond with is, “That’s great but have you heard about this book IT’S ABOUT A SPACESHIP THAT SINGS!”

So to sum up, I have a a lot of thoughts on this book – which aside from my superficial enthusiasm for the premise is really excellent – and will post a review of in a couple days when I am feeling a little more objective and had a chance to reflect a bit. Also, Breq is my hero and the next time someone asks me what I plan to do with my music degrees (which, for the record, is ALL THE TIME) I’m telling them I’m going to become a spaceship choir.

ETA: I have now finished a real review here.

5 thoughts on “Singing spaceships: a pre-review of Ancillary Justice”

  1. There is so much awesome about this book, but the singing is one of my favorites. And Ancillary Sword is even better IMO. I don’t remember whether it was in Ancillary Justice or Ancillary Sword, but in of them she gave herself away because she was constantly walking around humming.

    1. Yes, that was in Ancillary Justice! It’s such a wonderful character quirk; I love how it humanizes Breq (through her love of music), and simultaneously shows ways in which she’s not-quite human (her lack of inhibitions about bursting into song in public places, for example). So many great details like that in AJ… I can’t wait to start Ancillary Sword.

  2. LOVE this (pre)review! Ever time I end up talking about this book I end up raving like this…. I mean there’s so much to unpack in the book but it’s such a stunning novel, where do you even start?

    Spaceship choirs 😀
    No idea how I haven’t read the sequel yet.

    1. There is sooooo much…. I think I am probably going to get at least 3 blog posts out of it,haha. I am trying to hold off on Ancillary Sword as long as possible because I have a huge pile of library books to get through right now but it is SO HARD and I’m not sure how long I will last!

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