Thursday, June 2, 2016

Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie

This is the first of the Hugo nominees I have read this year. It is the concluding part of the trilogy, of which the former parts have also been nominees - and the first part won practically all genre awards that existed. This book continues the story, where an authoritative ruler of local area of space (whose mind has been uploaded to several ”ancillaries” for centuries) has “fractured” and is fighting a kind of civil war against herself. The emphasis of this book is on the ship minds, powerful AIs, who control spaceships and space stations. They have been considered just as machines without real self-awareness, but it turns out that they are capable beings with agendas of their own - or at least agendas which aren’t the same as the dictator's. A refreshingly alien race has sent a new representative, or “translator”, who looks human, but whose behavior is probably closer to that of the aliens. The aliens will keep up their agreement with humans only if humans will keep their part of the agreement, and the aliens think that humans are worth being taken seriously. The ongoing civil war threatens this balance and might cause serious consequences.
The book was pretty good, but probably not as good as the second part of the series. The first quarter was pretty slow with endless discussions, mostly while drinking tea; if discussions didn’t happen while tea drinking, the subject of the discussions was the planning of having a cup of tea. The alien translator was by far the most interesting character, and I would have loved to read more about her (the word “she” is used for everyone in this book). Now she was more of a side character. A good book, but it won’t probably be my first choice in the voting.

330 pp.

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