Saturday, November 14, 2015

Ancillary Mercy

Ann Leckie's trilogy wraps up with Ancillary Mercy, in which the main character remains in control of a Mercy-level ship, much to my structural disappointment.(Previously: 1, 1', 2, 2'.)

It is a good book. It blurs with the first two in my mind, the characters and dilemmas running together to form one giant glob of plot, so sticky it grabs issues from all fields of thought and coheres them into one object, one magnificent study of How to Properly Conduct Oneself, A Guide for AIs and Humans Alike, with Special Focus on Tea and Gun Safety. Some choice quotes:

  • "you certainly don't have to apologize for insisting your lover treat you with some basic consideration." p.101
  • "You realize... that it's the meds that make you feel like you don't need meds anymore." p.131
  • "Life in the military isn't all dinner parties and drinking tea." p.197

I don't want to comment on any of the plot, whuch unrolls in interesting fashion, not quite the way I would have expected another space opera to resolve. BUT: What is going on with the Presger? This is another race of aliens, super-powerful, not apparently constrained by the same physics or even the same consistently-applied rules of biology, as us. And their characters add a lot of levity to the proceedings, since they speak fluently but have apparently no cultural training, and so are constantly making Alice-in-Wonderland-like non-sequiturs. The novel repeatedly teases right up to the edge of describing something certain about the Presger, then skips over it and simply describes the outcome. My brain is stuck trying to puzzle out how their magical control of physics works. (Why, and how, was the fish still alive?!)

This book, and its trilogy, brought me much enjoyment. I hope to revisit the world of Ann Leckie's imagination soon, and plentifully. Long may she write and be free to explore what she wants with her words.

This post's theme word is wellerism, "an expression involving a familiar proverb or quotation and its facetious sequel. It usually comprises three parts: statement, speaker, situation. Examples: "We'll have to rehearse that," said the undertaker as the coffin fell out of the car. Or: "Prevention is better than cure," said the pig when it ran away from the butcher." The Presger translators provide abundant grounds for wellerisms and other wordplay.

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