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I first heard about An Leckie’s flagship novel Ancillary Justice by reading an article at Tor called Power, Responsibility, and Revenge: Ancillary Justice Ten Years On by Adrienne Martini. The book is now ten years old, but I’ve never been known as being on the bleeding edge of whatever’s new and fresh in science fiction.
This part of the article got my attention:
In that early scene, Leckie efficiently sets up one of the key features of this world: the Radchaai language doesn’t gender people. Breq defaults to she/her pronouns for everyone unless she is speaking the language of the colonized. We only know Seivarden is a “he” because a bartender on Nilt refers to him that way. Frequently, Leckie shows Breq struggling with finding the right pronouns for the languages that require them.
Oh, good grief. If there are two words associated with this novel that are bound to set my teeth on edge, it’s “justice” and “gender,” both of which have taken on rather magnified meanings in the 2020s, at least in social media.
Martini gushes glowing praise upon Leckie’s book. In fact, her debut novel has the distinction of having won a Hugo Award, Nebula Award, BSFA Award, Arthur C. Clarke Award, and Locus Award for Best First Novel. That’s some novel.