Title: Ancillary Mercy
Author: Ann Leckie
Keywords: badass AI singing ships, space opera
Ancillary Mercy takes place right after the events of Sword. For a time, everything seems peaceful. Until a Presger Translator comes knocking into Athoek space and an ancillary of a broken ship in the Ghost system is found. Then of course it all comes to a head when an Anaander Mianaai heads over because she’s pretty upset at a renegade two-thousand year old ship. Breq takes all this in in her own unique stride.
I’m really sad this series is over. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m lacking more sci-fi opera in my bookshelf, but I’ve never read a book that made me think, really think about society, conquest and the cultural loss that comes with it, gender, and language. To be honest, it was only the last book that I was finally comfortable in the usage of one pronoun and I was comfortable in just letting the characters be, rather than worry about their gender. It was really refreshing to see this cosmic society that doesn’t give one fig about one’s gender. Another twist on present time’s view of beauty and relationships is also highlighted:
Governor Giarod might be the higher authority, but Administrator Celar reigned over Athoek Station’s daily routine. She was wide and heavy, and quite beautiful. No few of the residents of Athoek Station were half in love with her.
The relationship between Mercy of Kalr, Breq and Seivarden was so fascinating to read. Not only is there implications of Seivarden wanting a relationship with our amazing, no nonsense ancillary/ship, but Mercy of Kalr, an AI ship seems to want to be close too and even tries to use Seivarden to confront Breq !! “Ships don’t love ships..” As Seivarden says, they’re “both being stupid”. I’m not really a fan of Seivarden, but I’m down with Mercy of Kalr. So…I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m totally shipping these ships together.
Breq is my favorite character, but the characters introduced in Mercy almost stole the show. Translator Zeiat and Sphene’s interactions with Breq and especially with each other was awesome.
The ending is left open, and though it definitely feels like an end to this series, I would love to see some short stories on how Breq’s little family is doing. And wondering what they decide for the new Republic’s name. And I hope that Sphene does get a chance to throttle Anaander Mianaai.
On an end note, since I really dug the relationships of the AIs and humans in this series, I’d like to recommend some series that focus on relationships of this nature:
- Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. Dragons and humans during an alternative historical take on the Napoleonic wars. Yes.
- His Dark Material series by Phillip Pullman. Okay, the relationship is technically between the human and their soul/subconcious form, but the intimate relationship is still there (obviously). Who wouldn’t want an animal form of themselves?!
- The Machine Dynasty series by Madeline Ashby. vN’s are self-replicating humanoid robots that are integrated into human society. AIs with relationships with humans and AIs with AIs who can make AI babies. Pretty crazy series, I love it.
As always, any sci-fi reading is always welcome!