Book Review: Ancestral Night

Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear


Haimey Dz is the captain of a small salvage tug operation. She thinks she knows what she wants. She thinks she knows who she is. But all that changes when she and her crew stumble upon a huge prize and uncover war crimes beyond what they can even imagine—and powers beyond comprehension.

This was an incredibly fascinating story, with an incredibly fascinating world (how many times can I say incredibly in one sentence? Incredibly enough, four).

And like the best science fiction, along with a riveting story involving space pirates, sentient AI, roguishly good-looking pilots, space cats and incomprehensible aliens, this book also touched on what made a person human. Or intelligent. Or deserving of life. In addition to the concepts of society and society norms.

Haimey comes from one far end of societal norms, from a cult of basically TERFS who drastically right-mind and hive-mind and regender their people so that everyone thinks alike, shares the same opinions and controls how they feel, what they love and how they act. It’s drastic and yet they were her people and now she is separated from them forever after, after she fell in love with the wrong person and was exiled.

Her entire life has been trying to figure out how to live and survive, and while she’s comfortable with Singer and Conner and the cats (the cats!!!!), there’s something missing. Something she doesn’t even realize is missing.

Anywho, I’m not going to really get much further than that because ~spoilers~, but lemme just say that Fairweather (sp? I listened to the audiobook and am too lazy to look it up) is a rightly evil, evil villain that you kinda just can’t stop rooting for? She’s the kind of person whose words seem to make sense, whose ideas and motives are all above board and whatnot, right up until the minute you start thinking about how these ideals are going to happen and what unintended consequences (is it unintended if you don’t care about anything other than yourself?). So basically Fairweather is a Libertarian on steroids.

Plus the concept of AIs and right-minded and allowing someone else access to adjusting your chemical levels and control your reactions is just…ooookaaaaay if you want to go that route?

Anywho, if you enjoy science fiction that is based on some really interesting concepts of gravity, social theory and other deeply intricate things (and the adjustment for those people who live exclusively in microgravity—along with any and all bodily modifications to adapt to that environment), then this is the book for you.

If you want to read more science fiction about lesbians and other queer folx in space, then this is definitely the book for you.

Also, the audiobook is absolutely stellar.

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