Ancillary Justice was a book about the non-existence of free will, and Ancillary Sword was about love. Ancillary Mercy adds the theme of identity, and what it means to be a Significant being. From the very first pages Leckie makes it clear that this is a book about Artificial Intelligence. Not only main character Breq, a former warship, but also the AI of Athoek Station – where the bulk of this novel takes place – and the AIs of several ships play an important role in the conclusion to the Imperial Radch trilogy. Them being beings with feelings turns out to be the real focus of these 3 books, not so much the gender issue, nor colonization. If there are lessons to be learned from Ancillary J-S-M, its main lesson would be to have respect for feelings. As such, this could be considered to be more a series on animal rights, than on males dominating our culture. The politics of Anaander Mianaai play an important role nonetheless, and Leckie dissects the ultimate ethical failure of its power systems meticulously. Somewhere between the lines is a strong case for the dismissal of the current form of capitalism, in favor of a more cooperative economy.
But feelings are upfront and in the clear, and not only the feelings of the AIs that populate the story. Leckie manages to explicitly give some character advice about arrogance and being self-centered & inconsiderate. The dynamic between Seivarden and Ekalu is recognizable to, I guess, lots and lots of couples. It’s great stuff, and very human. Seivarden grows as a person, and the pages devoted to their relationship could be copy-pasted directly in whatever non-genre literary masterwork. Continue reading