Entry updated 29 October 2021. Tagged: Author, Editor.
(1966- ) US author who began to publish work of genre interest with "Hesperia and Glory" in Subterranean for Summer 2006, and is also publisher/editor of the Online Magazine GigaNotoSaurus (which see). Her Imperial Radch sequence begins with Ancillary Justice (2013), a complexly couched Space Opera set several millennia hence, in various interstellar venues dominated by the aggressively expanding Radchaai Galactic Empire, in the service of which the protagonist Breq had been part of a military unit. These units normally comprise a number of brain-wiped Avatar bodies under the control of a Starship AI, here that of the troop carrier Justice of Toren. The protagonist, having lost her fellow "corpse soldiers", is now solo but with troubling memories of former multiplicity and of the internal schism of the Radch overlord Anaander Mianaai, who inhabits many bodies scattered across the empire but has become secretly divided – the conflict between the multi-overlord's not easily distinguished factions having led to the destruction of Justice of Toren with Breq as sole survivor. The double storyline – one in the present tense, one dovetailing into present events from the past – is also evocative of the work of Iain M Banks, in particular Use of Weapons (1990). The Radch worlds are interestingly Gender-less as far as language and behaviour are concerned; Breq's disorienting experience of moving through a visually gendered world is intriguingly conveyed. Her search for revenge and knowledge serve to unpack various galactic mysteries, though much remains yet unexplained. Over and above Leckie's competent juggling of complicated material, much of the power of the tale comes from her thorough mastery of the SF Megatext. In the following year's award season, Ancillary Justice won the 2014 Arthur C Clarke Award, tied for the BSFA Award for best novel, and won the Hugo and Nebula as best novel and the Locus Award as best first novel. In Ancillary Sword (2014), Breq undertakes a mission at the behest of one version of Anaander Mianaai, whose seeming trust is belied by the action of creating a secret Mianaai-avatar spy (heedless that the "corpse soldier" Technology of destructive Identity Transfer is now supposedly forbidden) to watch over Breq. Meanwhile Breq continues in Identity-stripping solitude, a torment central to the tale, whose baroque twists and inturnings clearly require a further volume to unpack. This second volume won the BSFA Award and Locus Award as best sf novel. The third and concluding novel is Ancillary Mercy (2015) – Justice, Sword and Mercy being the three classes of Radch space-navy craft – which again won the Locus Award as best sf novel. This, after various intriguing complications and even some comedy, ends on a tentatively upbeat note with the possibility of humanity being guided by compassionate AIs rather than the harsh imperial regime.
The Raven Tower (2019), seemingly a singleton, is a fantasy combining some traditional action in the style of a tale set in a medievalized context with an extensive massaging of the plot of William Shakespeare's Hamlet (performed circa 1600; various versions from 1603). [JC/DRL]
see also: Kitschies.
born Toledo, Ohio: 2 March 1966
- Ancillary Justice (New York: Orbit, 2013) [Imperial Radch: pb/John Harris]
- Ancillary Sword (New York: Orbit, 2014) [Imperial Radch: pb/John Harris]
- Ancillary Mercy (New York: Orbit, 2015) [Imperial Radch: pb/John Harris]
- The Imperial Radch Trilogy (New York: Orbit, 2017) [omni: the above three volumes enclosed in a box set: Imperial Radch: na/]
- The Raven Tower (New York: Orbit, 2019) [hb/Lauren Panepinto]
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