This post contains book-destroying SPOILERS for Ancillary Justice. The non-spoiler post is here.
Really the main thing I wanted to say behind spoiler space was OMG the body Breq has—names and descriptions are so difficult when talking about this character—is the segment we saw being added after Ors, the one with the voice that the medic picked just to be annoying! I don’t know why I found that so stunning, really, but I did.
I desperately want the story about Breq’s time with the Itran Tetrarchy, where she got a ludicrous amount of money as payment on a favor and ended up on a religious icon.
I also strongly hope that Breq remains asexual and aromantic. I don’t know the nature of Seivarden’s feelings for Breq (besides that moment of tongue-swallowing when Breq gets new clothes), but it’s really hard for me to imagine Breq in anything sexual or romantic. Plus I believe it’s strongly implied that ancillaries have many of their physical emotional reactions modified; there’s a comment about ships experiencing different emotional ranges when they have human troops.
Finally, this is probably too on-point, which is why I didn’t quote in the main review, but I want to put it here for reference anyway.
It seems very straightforward when I say “I.” At the time, “I” meant Justice of Toren, the whole ship and all its ancillaries. A unit might be very focused on what it was doing at that particular moment, but it was no more apart from “me” than my hand is while it’s engaged in a task that doesn’t require my full attention.
Nearly twenty years later “I” would be a single body, a single brain. That division, I-Justice of Toren and I-One Esk, was not, I have come to think, a sudden split, not an instant before which “I” was one and after which “I” was “we.” It was something that had always been possible, always potential. Guarded against. But how did it go from potential to real, incontrovertible, irrevocable?
On one level the answer is simple—it happened when all of Justice of Toren but me was destroyed. But when I look closer I seem to see cracks everywhere. Did the singing contribute, the thing that made One Esk different from all other units on the ship, indeed in the fleets? Perhaps. Or is anyone’s identity a matter of fragments held together by convenient or useful narrative, that in ordinary circumstances never reveals itself as a fiction? Or is it really a fiction?
I’m going to miss Readercon’s book club on this, vex, so let’s do it here. What did you all think?