a-social-construct
a-social-construct:


Ancillary Justice just won the 2014 Hugo (as well as the Nebula and the Clarke, making it the first novel to ever get all three).  It’s got some interesting stuff going on with gender, asexuality and personal identity, but it’s not really a novel about gender the way that Left Hand of Darkness is.  Leckie clearly thought a lot about gender, and the book wouldn’t be what it is without it, but it’s not really about gender on the surface.
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a-social-construct:

Ancillary Justice just won the 2014 Hugo (as well as the Nebula and the Clarke, making it the first novel to ever get all three).  It’s got some interesting stuff going on with gender, asexuality and personal identity, but it’s not really a novel about gender the way that Left Hand of Darkness is.  Leckie clearly thought a lot about gender, and the book wouldn’t be what it is without it, but it’s not really about gender on the surface.

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Ancillary Justice just won the 2014 Hugo (as well as the Nebula and the Clarke, making it the first novel to ever get all three).  It’s got some interesting stuff going on with gender, asexuality and personal identity, but it’s not really a novel about gender the way that Left Hand of Darkness is.  Leckie clearly thought a lot about gender, and the book wouldn’t be what it is without it, but it’s not really about gender on the surface.
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The basic premise is that the main character Breq is investigating her own murder; Breq is an agender AI consciousness housed in a human body that used to be a part of a larger AI simultaneously housed in multiple human bodies and a ship.  The two plot timelines switch between Breq being severed from the larger consciousness in the past, and Breq investigating who destroyed her ship in the present.
Ancillary Justice is pretty military scifi/vast empire space opera on the surface, but the multi/severed consciousnesses thing makes it a much bigger book.  Leckie makes the perspective of an artificial intelligence feel very artificial with the way she writes gender; Breq doesn’t perceive gender unless she thinks about it very explicitly, Breq’s physical body isn’t gendered explicitly for the reader, and most of the other characters aren’t explicitly gendered either.  
Leckie manages this in part by using the pronoun “her” as the default pronoun for every character, which has its pluses and minuses.  I find it a little determinate, and Leckie’s been criticized for writing about non- or multi-gendered characters with a necessarily gendered pronoun.  Leckie was the secretary of the SFWA at the time of the big sexism blowout last year and this year’s Hugo is the first since, so Ancillary Justice is also being talked about as a feminist novel on the scale of Handmaid’s Tale.  I don’t think it’s a particularly feminist novel, but I do think the choice to use “she” as the default pronoun was a feminist choice.
While the choice to use she/her rather than hir/zie or some other ungendered pronoun could imply a gendering of non- or non-binary gendered bodies, I think her/she does a lot of work forcing the majority of readers who might never have run across hir/zie to consider how and why they gender a character.  Mr SC and I had different gender interpretations of almost every character, including the one character who gets explicitly gendered late in the book, and how we read different characters said a lot about what we’ve picked up as gendered cues from other things.
Forcing the reader to be reflective about their own gendered assumptions relies a lot on a determinate view of language; that is, if your language doesn’t have a word for it, you can’t understand it (this theory of language, also known as the Sapir-Whorfian hypothesis, has been pretty soundly discredited, by the way).  Breq has one pronoun, and so doesn’t understand multiple genders.  But for the reader, who does live in a binary-gendered system, I thought that making the default pronoun feminine as opposed to hir/zie was a pretty confrontational way of pointing out the pervasive presumption of male as default.

Ancillary Justice just won the 2014 Hugo (as well as the Nebula and the Clarke, making it the first novel to ever get all three).  It’s got some interesting stuff going on with gender, asexuality and personal identity, but it’s not really a novel about gender the way that Left Hand of Darkness is.  Leckie clearly thought a lot about gender, and the book wouldn’t be what it is without it, but it’s not really about gender on the surface.

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marrowskies

marrowskies:

just finished reading Ancillary Justice which is a good book about how we don’t have to be in male-orientated white space operas anymore.

so because everyone should read this shit i drew things like One Esk Nineteen in non-Radchaai clothing and also that one bit where seivarden is uncomfortable with how much she finds Breq in Radchaai clothes attractive and One Esk is like “lol yeah ships don’t have favorites and if they did you’d totally be a ship’s favorite yeah yup sure I’m certain your ships loved your arrogant assholery even that one ship Justice of Toren was it fuk u seivarden”