It’s been years since I’d read hard-core sci-fi. So, as Anne Leckie brought me into her Radchaai world,I was a little jolted. The protagonist, a soldier named Breg, tells her story over the span of a thousand years. Breg isn’t human, she’s actually an artificial intelligence entity. Over her thousand years of existence, Breg was the brain of a starship and occupied multiple human forms. At the beginning of the book, Breg has been stripped of her far-reaching viewpoint and left weakened, fragile, in a single physical body:
“I had once had twenty bodies, twenty pairs of eyes, and hundreds of others that I could access if I needed or desired it. Now I could only see in one direction, could only see the vast expanse behind me if I turned my head and blinded myself to what was in front of me.” – Breg
Leckie tells Breg’s story in a non-linear fashion, using lots of flashbacks. As a reader, it took me some time to get used to the jumps between setting and centuries. Once I did, though, the story was compelling. I especially loved that in a testosterone dominated genre, Leckie main characters are strong women (or as female as an AI entity could be). Even the villain was female. This book showed that hard-core sci-fi wasn’t just for the boys anymore.
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