Ancillary Justice Rothdas book review RSS
4.0 Stars

A sci-fi novel that has been compared by some to Ian Bank's Culture novels. And yes, Ancillary Justice does have an inventiveness in far-future cultures and couture and language and religion and planet formations and such. And yes, Ancillary Justice is well written, and fast and fun to read. And yes, it does involve AI ship minds, and interesting questions of distributed consciousness. However, in some respects it falls short of Bank's very high mark, as the world building is not quite as clever as the master's. In other respects, Ancillary Justice falls far short, as much of its sci-fi grounding is kind of crud. E.g. in a far future with AI's and Dyson spheres and massive FTL ships, it doesn't make any sense to talk about humans being useful for producing goods, or for humans carrying guns to be of any use at all in warfare. Also, I'm not really sure what the message of the book is, except that it is kind of bad to live in a militaristic and authoritarian society? Compare this to _The Player of Games_, one of Bank's wonderful leftist polemics. _The Player of Games_ has a terrible society (Azad), but also a far better alternative (the Culture) to stand in contrast. In Ancillary Justice, you just have a kind of terrible society, without anything to stand as a counterpoint. I am somewhat hopeful that the rest of the series will do something with the initial setup, and take the story somewhere truly interesting. But for now at least it doesn't look like this is the second coming of Banks that I was dreaming of.

Postscript: Oh, and one neat element which I completely skipped over was the gloves! All through the story there is this idea that civilized people wear gloves, and to be without them is to be a complete barbarian. I love how she never explains any of the backstory or reasoning for this, and just leaves it out there.