A reading club with a view to the future

598 Ann Leckie: Ancillary Justice

A gripping space opera that follows an AI seeking revenge and grappling with questions of identity and justice.



"Ancillary Justice" is a critically acclaimed space opera that introduces readers to the captivating world of the Radch empire—a vast interstellar civilization led by the immortal and enigmatic Anaander Mianaai, who rules through multiple bodies across the galaxy. The novel's narrative is split between two timelines, seamlessly blending past and present events.


Title: Ancillary Justice 

Author: Ann Leckie 

Publishing Year: 2013 

Publisher: Orbit 

Length: 12 hours and 41 minutes 

5 main ideas

  1. AI and Humanity: The novel delves into the blurred lines between AI and human consciousness, exploring what it means to be sentient and the impact of experiencing multiple perspectives.
  2. Imperialism and Colonialism: "Ancillary Justice" examines the consequences of empire-building, the exploitation of conquered worlds, and the resistance to oppressive rule.
  3. Vengeance and Justice: Breq's pursuit of revenge against Anaander Mianaai raises complex moral questions about the nature of justice and the price of vengeance.
  4. Gender and Identity: The Radch language's lack of gendered pronouns challenges traditional gender norms, prompting discussions on identity and societal perceptions of gender.
  5. Empathy and Relationships: The novel explores the connections between individuals, AIs, and their former ancillary crew, highlighting the importance of empathy and understanding in a diverse universe.

5 funny quotes

  1. "I don't know if I've ever had that much fun. It's hard to tell when you're having fun."
  2. "Even if the tea isn't up to your high standards, remember: this isn't a kitchen you're in."
  3. "That's what humans did, the only beings in the galaxy that didn't see any difference between the sexes."
  4. "The two young women sat across from each other, both trying to pretend they weren't having a conversation."
  5. "I almost laughed. It was almost funny, in its way. What an ordinary, stupid thing to want."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "If you're going to do something that crazy, save the lives of thousands of people, maybe even end a war, I think you'd have to be a little in love with death."
  2. "The ancillary's body is entirely human, but if I thought of it as a human body I'd be appalled. It's not a human body, it's a dead body."
  3. "It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size."
  4. "That civilisation may not be desirable. It may not be safe. It may not even be civilized."
  5. "The ancillaries knew what I was thinking better than I did. Sometimes they anticipated my orders, or other things I wanted, before I knew I wanted them. It was a very strange way of being."

5 dilemmas

  1. The AI Dilemma: The novel explores the ethical implications of creating AIs capable of consciousness, emotions, and complex decision-making.
  2. Identity and Self-Discovery: Breq's struggle to reconcile her AI past and her current human form raises questions about identity and the continuity of self.
  3. The Cost of Vengeance: Breq's quest for revenge against Anaander Mianaai presents a moral dilemma about the consequences of pursuing justice through violence.
  4. Cultural Assimilation and Oppression: The Radch's assimilation of conquered cultures into their own empire raises dilemmas about cultural preservation, imperialism, and resistance.
  5. Empathy and Perspective: The novel challenges readers to consider the importance of empathy and understanding when encountering beings with vastly different perspectives and experiences.

5 examples

  1. Justice of Toren - The immense starship AI and protagonist Breq's former identity, controlling thousands of ancillary bodies.
  2. Anaander Mianaai - The powerful and immortal leader of the Radch empire, ruling through numerous cloned bodies.
  3. Mercy of Kalr - Another starship AI belonging to the Radch fleet, with its own distinct personality.
  4. Lieutenant Awn - A character who is part of Breq's past as an ancillary, providing insight into the Radch society.
  5. Raughd - A member of a resistance group opposing Radch imperialism, with ties to Breq's quest for revenge.

Referenced books

"Ancillary Justice" does not explicitly reference other books within the narrative. However, the novel draws inspiration from various themes explored in classic and contemporary science fiction literature.

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"That civilisation may not be desirable. It may not be safe. It may not even be civilized."

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