Ancestral Night (White Space, #1)
Haimey Dz thinks she knows what she wants.She thinks she knows who she is.She is wrong.A routine salvage mission uncovers evidence of a terrible crime and relics of powerful ancient technology. Haimey and her small crew run afoul of pirates at the outer limits of the Milky Way, and find themselves on the run and in possession of universe-changing information.When authorities prove corrupt, Haimey realizes that she is the only one who can protect her galaxy-spanning civilization from the implications of this ancient technology—and the revolutionaries who want to use it for terror and war. Her quest will take her careening from the event horizon of the supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s core to the infinite, empty spaces at its edge.To save everything that matters, she will need to uncover the secrets of ancient intelligences lost to time—and her own lost secrets, which she will wish had remained hidden from her forever.

Ancestral Night (White Space, #1) Details

TitleAncestral Night (White Space, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 1st, 2019
PublisherGollancz
ISBN-139781473208742
Rating
GenreScience Fiction, Space, Space Opera, Fiction

Ancestral Night (White Space, #1) Review

  • Gary
    January 1, 1970
    An early moment in Elizabeth Bear’s expansive new space opera Ancestral Night has narrator Haimey Dz offer a meta-commentary on the ancient, 19th century novels she reads during the long hours spent drifting through space: “They’re great for space travel because they were designed for people with time on their hands. Middlemarch. Gorgeous, but it just goes on and on.” Ancestral Night is a busy and boisterous novel, complex and beautifully composed, but also has a tendency to labor its points.Hai An early moment in Elizabeth Bear’s expansive new space opera Ancestral Night has narrator Haimey Dz offer a meta-commentary on the ancient, 19th century novels she reads during the long hours spent drifting through space: “They’re great for space travel because they were designed for people with time on their hands. Middlemarch. Gorgeous, but it just goes on and on.” Ancestral Night is a busy and boisterous novel, complex and beautifully composed, but also has a tendency to labor its points.Haimey and her team of salvagers spend their time searching for derelict ships and abandoned tech in “white space”, ripples in space-time that enable faster than light travel. On their latest job, a nano-parasite created by a mysterious, long vanished race called the Koregoi infects Haimey, guiding her mind to an advanced Korogoi ship hidden inside a black hole. They aren’t the only salvagers who know about the ship, and Haimey finds herself on a collision course with some very dangerous revolutionaries willing to use the ship to settle their score with the far-reaching galactic society known as the Synarche.Recalling the Culture novels of Iain M. Banks, Bear depicts a space-faring civilization made up of a multitude of alien cultures and intelligences that uses advanced technology to care for its citizens needs. Differences compound the deeper Bear takes us into her world: unlike the Culture with its artificial Minds, the Synarche chooses its civil servants by draft lottery, doing away with the corruptible governing elites that less enlightened societies create. Bear also takes technological augmentation to a new level. Haimey, like most of the Synarche’s citizens, has implants that allow her to interface with technology as easily as most of us breathe. These implants also allow her to turn emotions on and off and even alter her personality and psychological makeup at will. The cultish creche that raised her used them to brainwash her and make her complicit in their crimes, and later the Synarche uses them to remove her memories of those crimes. Bear highlights the philosophical conundrums inherent in these technological and social innovations and the complicated notions of consent that attend them.Ancestral Night is saturated with moral and political ambition. Rich with conflict and action, though often slowed down by explication and discourse, the story sometimes loses its momentum. I look forward to the second volume in this planned duology with the hope that it moves at a more studious pace.
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  • Bradley
    January 1, 1970
    I had some really good fun with this book. The transhumanist elements, from all the various augs for the mind, body, and all the relevant lock-ins required to pilot, communicate, or engineer spacecraft is something I always tend to enjoy. It's realistic. After all, our bodies are such weak meat sacks. :)In this case, our MC is got at from several directions all at once. Memory, behavior modification, social and political nastiness, all the way up to full and voluntary body control for the Space I had some really good fun with this book. The transhumanist elements, from all the various augs for the mind, body, and all the relevant lock-ins required to pilot, communicate, or engineer spacecraft is something I always tend to enjoy. It's realistic. After all, our bodies are such weak meat sacks. :)In this case, our MC is got at from several directions all at once. Memory, behavior modification, social and political nastiness, all the way up to full and voluntary body control for the Space Opera elements. The alien artifact, and I use the term lightly, adds a beautiful element to the rest, knocking the tale out of what really started feeling like a Becky Chambers novel right out of that orbit and into a straight adventure including a chase, more political horrors, the ghost of genocide, and tons of lies to work through with all the aliens and the "pirates".I really enjoyed it. The ideas and the tech and the characters were all fascinating.Unfortunately, there were a few parts that dragged, made me lost interest for a bit, before surprising me that I was enjoying myself again. BUT MOSTLY, the novel is one of the very best Space Operas I've seen for a while. With these caveats. It does the pushing of the envelope much better than most, and that's what I like to see even more than a character-heavy tale. But make no mistake, the characters are king, here. :)
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  • Peter Tillman
    January 1, 1970
    Slow start -- in fact, I kept dozing off* -- but she hits her stride around 100 pp in. A scary sheriff who's a giant mantis! *Deep* space stuff, with the Synarche, Bear's take on IMB's Culture, and pretty well thought-out. Though the exposition took the form of a college bull-session look-alikes, a fine sleep-aid! But now we're up to a Sexy Pirate babe with mystery Superpowers, and Our Heroine is discovering her own Superpowers too**, which she acquired investigating a horrible crime. And her sa Slow start -- in fact, I kept dozing off* -- but she hits her stride around 100 pp in. A scary sheriff who's a giant mantis! *Deep* space stuff, with the Synarche, Bear's take on IMB's Culture, and pretty well thought-out. Though the exposition took the form of a college bull-session look-alikes, a fine sleep-aid! But now we're up to a Sexy Pirate babe with mystery Superpowers, and Our Heroine is discovering her own Superpowers too**, which she acquired investigating a horrible crime. And her salvage-tug has (for now) escaped the Freeport freebooters (aka Pirates) and has just arrived at the giant Black Hole in the center of our galaxy.....Oh, I almost forgot: Cats in Spaaace! Well, this one *should* have caught me in its spell --I mean, they salvage (sort of) a giant ancient alien starship next! Then I'd hit another stretch of BS philosophizing. Then some action again.... And it's Book 1 of 2 (I think), so not self-contained, and with an ambiguous ending. So, I'm left feeling grumpy, that she came so close, and kept missing the mark. This may just be me: I've been reading this stuff for a long, long time, and I'm easily disenchanted. And there is a lot to like here.... But, lumpy.Overall, 3.3 stars? I'm still thinking about that. And there's very little new SF that demands thinking about. So you should probably read it, even with my caveats, if thinky-SF is your thing. Be prepared to skim.----* in fairness, I doze off a LOT these days, in my dotage....** Physics-based superpowers, Bear reassures us. Wisely, she is no more specific than that.===============================Author Bear @ Scalzi's, https://whatever.scalzi.com/2019/03/2..."I had originally envisioned something much more along the lines of an epic space opera with multiple points of view and a lot of focus on the politics. The politics were the big idea around which the world was built, after all. The idea of a massive, multi-species, basically benevolent but imperfect post-scarcity bureaucracy devoted to maintaining peace and the well-being of its citizens, however imperfect it could sometimes be in implementation, was appealing in 2014. I feel like it’s even more appealing now, frankly: it would be nice to believe in functional governments again. I was inspired by Iain Banks and his Culture novels, but I wanted more detail on how a post-scarcity society and a completely novel form of government might work. The best, most egalitarian, fairest systems of government we have now are based on structures that are millennia old at their core. Democracies and republics actually use a series of bronze-age technologies to approximate some of the better aspects of group decision-making protocols that science shows us are the most efficient known way of getting stuff done, but the technology exists to remove even more barrier to making those protocols work. ... "
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  • Lata
    January 1, 1970
    I don't know how many times I came really close to abandoning this book. From the very start, I struggled, and found the text slow and the world puzzling. Then, something happened around the 40% mark, and I started to get a good feel for the book. I still found that the text was slower to get through than I liked, but I persevered, and have to say that I enjoyed this book.Haimey, Connla and Singer (their sentient spaceship) are salvage operators. They're given a tip about a ship, and once there, I don't know how many times I came really close to abandoning this book. From the very start, I struggled, and found the text slow and the world puzzling. Then, something happened around the 40% mark, and I started to get a good feel for the book. I still found that the text was slower to get through than I liked, but I persevered, and have to say that I enjoyed this book.Haimey, Connla and Singer (their sentient spaceship) are salvage operators. They're given a tip about a ship, and once there, discover the ship contains something horrible. Pirates appear, sending the team running, without their salvage and bills coming due. Haimey and company race through the galaxy, evading pirates and trying to find out more about their missed salvage. There is actually much to like in this book: a large variety of aliens, many of whom are not bipedal, the Synarche (the organization/government that binds many alien races together), augmented/modified humans, the many ethical discussions throughout the story, references to Middlemarch, Haimey and her engineering smarts, her cats!!, and wonderful, funny Singer. Plus, this is Elizabeth Bear, whose work intrigues me with its variety of styles, characters and ideas. And despite its slow start and often exposition-heavy paragraphs, I found the book came together well, and left me wondering 1) what was to happen next for Haimey and team, 2) would Bushyasta ever do more than sleep, and 3) what were the things the Ativahika were referring to? So, I guess I'm reading the next book.
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  • Sherwood Smith
    January 1, 1970
    Space opera is back, and at least in the hands of some female writers, it is not even remotely retrogressive in the ways that were standard some thirty years ago.While portions of this book were claustrophobic in ways that usually lose me, Bear kept me reading as the questions opened outward, and I hoped to see more of certain secondary characters (two of them not human).For me, space opera has to hit at least some of the following elements:Larger than life characters with interesting exploratio Space opera is back, and at least in the hands of some female writers, it is not even remotely retrogressive in the ways that were standard some thirty years ago.While portions of this book were claustrophobic in ways that usually lose me, Bear kept me reading as the questions opened outward, and I hoped to see more of certain secondary characters (two of them not human).For me, space opera has to hit at least some of the following elements:Larger than life characters with interesting explorations of gender and identityHaimey Dz fits that bill in aces and spades. I say aces as a clever way of segueing to Haimey’s identity. When we first meet her, she is very certain who she is, and is determined to stick to it, even when that means using government mandated self-medicating.She loves being a salvage seeker, living on the edge both of the known universe and financially, along with her crewmates, a pilot named Connla, agreeably complex and not even remotely a love interest for Haimey, and Singer, their AI who is at least as complex.Then they make a discovery, of a ship that isn’t supposed to exist, leading to Reason #2:Interesting space ships that go beyond sprockets and rocketsI love the worldbuilding here. The ship-design, drawing firmly on worldbuilding that supports awe-inspiring intricacy and mysterious power, opens up an array of questions about government, psychology, culture, social engineering . . . and of course What’s Out There.Emotional complexityGreat alien design complements the development of the characters, as Haimey slowly begins to discover that everything, everything she thought she knew . . . is wrong. Leading to . . .Big ideas—including glimpses of the numinous—without anything being dogmaticThe ideas keep getting bigger and bigger as Heimey grapples with a ship and with her own identity, while on the run from a villain very different from most space opera villains.Layered or polysemous surprisesBy the end the book has opened up in such promising directions I was quite hooked, and eager for more.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I’m stopping. I’m sorry. I made it to 70% and I don’t even have the desire to skip to the end and see how it plays out. I’m putting the content warnings up here in case you don’t want to read my spoiler laden review: (view spoiler)[suicide bombings, death of partners, abduction, references to a hive mind/cult, murder of children. (hide spoiler)]This is not what I expected it to be. I saw space salvage and space pirates and expected a thrilling action filled plot. Maybe a cat and mouse game, mayb I’m stopping. I’m sorry. I made it to 70% and I don’t even have the desire to skip to the end and see how it plays out. I’m putting the content warnings up here in case you don’t want to read my spoiler laden review: (view spoiler)[suicide bombings, death of partners, abduction, references to a hive mind/cult, murder of children. (hide spoiler)]This is not what I expected it to be. I saw space salvage and space pirates and expected a thrilling action filled plot. Maybe a cat and mouse game, maybe some subterfuge. Some twists and turns.There are twists and turns, but they are not the kind you’re thinking. This is not an action driven plot. This is the character study of a woman who was raised in a cult. Turn back now if you don’t want spoilers because I can’t explain why I’m not finishing this without them.It’s five hundred pages of mostly inner monologue: Haimey suffering anxiety from past trauma, second guessing herself every step of the way, and auto-tuning her brain chemicals as a form of medical treatment. I mean- it’s by no means my kind of book no matter how you look at that, and I was bored to tears, but even that was not why I quit reading.(Again, major spoilers ahead.) I quit reading because at some point the person holding Haimey convinces her to let her unblock memories that were “reconned,” (buried/blocked/written over). When Haimey remembers what actually happened she finds out her cult was a terrorist cult (I mean all cults are terrorists, but I’m referring specifically to the suicide bomber sort.)Instead of allowing themselves to be separated and reconned themselves, they kill each other, and all the children.That’s a hard pass for me. I’m sorry. It’s a hard pass for me in tv, in movies. I just don’t want to deal with it or think about it for any period of time.I do have a lot of respect for Bear as an author, I think she is incredibly talented and imaginative. I liked her book Carnival for the society and world building. There was some cool tech, and some hints of societal structure here, but none of it was straightforward enough to really grasp and analyze which is what I was hoping for. I don’t think it was all pointless. There is probably a very interesting discussion to be had about the implications of medicating or the possibility of overmedicating as a way to avoid confrontation and coping with life. (And I am not passing judgement on any of this- you’d have to read it to understand what I mean.) So- I’m giving it two stars even though I didn’t finish. I think for someone that isn’t bothered by what I’ve stated above and goes into it expecting a character study will have a field day with this novel. It just isn’t for me.Thank you to Edelweiss and Saga Press for providing me with an eARC to review.
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  • TheBookSmugglers
    January 1, 1970
    From my Kirkus columnIn many ways this book is an excellent pairing with MCU’s recently released Captain Marvel. No, really, hear me out. Both are stories centring women being told what or not to do, told that their emotions are crap and that they should know better, that their choices of how to deal with their emotions are wrong. It is about empowerment, going against what anybody else thinks and finding your own way by embracing your identity, flaws and all. Also fighting against baddies and f From my Kirkus columnIn many ways this book is an excellent pairing with MCU’s recently released Captain Marvel. No, really, hear me out. Both are stories centring women being told what or not to do, told that their emotions are crap and that they should know better, that their choices of how to deal with their emotions are wrong. It is about empowerment, going against what anybody else thinks and finding your own way by embracing your identity, flaws and all. Also fighting against baddies and finding a home where your heart is. Watch the movie, read this book, is what I am saying.
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  • Lindsay
    January 1, 1970
    A far-future post-scarcity space opera that owes a lot to Iain M. Banks (well-acknowledged in text), particularly in looking at the overall structure of society and an individual's place in it.Haimey Dz and her small crew of space salvage operators stumble across the scene of an atrocity and an abandoned ship. An incident that occurs as part of the investigation of the abandoned ship leaves Haimey in particular the focus of pursuit and acquisition by pirates. All of which is a catalyst for Haime A far-future post-scarcity space opera that owes a lot to Iain M. Banks (well-acknowledged in text), particularly in looking at the overall structure of society and an individual's place in it.Haimey Dz and her small crew of space salvage operators stumble across the scene of an atrocity and an abandoned ship. An incident that occurs as part of the investigation of the abandoned ship leaves Haimey in particular the focus of pursuit and acquisition by pirates. All of which is a catalyst for Haimey discovering some unexpected things about herself and her past.As much as I love the writing in this, the characters and the setting, overall I thought the book was a mess, primarily due to pacing issues. In particular there's an interminable section of the book (it's over a quarter of the length of the book) where Haimey and the main antagonist are stuck alone on a ship that's traveling from A to B where the only thing happening with the plot is limited interaction between the two and Haimey having an emotional breakdown.Where it shines is looking at what sort of government and economic system needs to exist in a post-scarcity space operatic society as well as competing socioeconomic systems. It's also great at looking at personality where everyone is cybernetically augmented and can both express control over their endocrine and edit/control their memories. So despite the pacing issues, I actually really enjoyed this and I would recommend it.
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  • Brian Clegg
    January 1, 1970
    Only a couple of weeks ago, reviewing a 1960s SF book, I bemoaned the fact that science fiction novels of ideas are less common now. Although it is correctly labelled a space opera, Ancestral Night delivers ideas with aplomb.Let's deal with the space opera aspect first. Elizabeth Bear provides some excellent adventure scenes in space, and we've the usual mix of huge spaceships and interesting aliens. Main character Haimey Dz is an engineer on a ship that salvages wrecks - but, as we gradually di Only a couple of weeks ago, reviewing a 1960s SF book, I bemoaned the fact that science fiction novels of ideas are less common now. Although it is correctly labelled a space opera, Ancestral Night delivers ideas with aplomb.Let's deal with the space opera aspect first. Elizabeth Bear provides some excellent adventure scenes in space, and we've the usual mix of huge spaceships and interesting aliens. Main character Haimey Dz is an engineer on a ship that salvages wrecks - but, as we gradually discover - she also has a forgotten past. A major feature of the storyline (one that seems to link to the medieval idea of the lost wisdom of the past) is ancient technology from a long-dead race with capabilities, notably manipulating spacetime mentally (Bear has yet to point out that the travel technologies used here could manipulate time as well as space), which fit well with Arthur C. Clarke's magic definition.I particularly liked the (surely intentional) nods to the much-missed Iain M. Banks's 'the Culture' universe - for example the quirkily named ships, though here they are more poetic than humorous, and the AI shipminds that are characters in their own right, though Bear's are less entirely emancipated that Banks's.When it comes to the ideas, there are two broad strands. One is physics. Although the ancient alien technology is a different matter, the conventional spaceships have Alcubierre-White drives - based on the closest thing we have from real physics to the design for a real warp drive. This is lovingly described and plays a major part in the storyline. We've also get a rather nice description of (and plotline involving) the galaxy's supermassive black hole. More significantly, though, as a novel of ideas, the book explores the nature of personal freedom within society.This is done in part by contrasting Bear's equivalent of the Culture - the Synarche - with a group of pirates. (As an aside it's fascinating how there seem to be spontaneous emergences of themes in books - we've also seen recently Alastair Reynolds' Revenger series with pirates as a major factor.) In all honesty, the 'pirates' in Ancestral Night would probably be better labelled anarchists as their motivation is significantly more sophisticated than stealing pieces of eight. It's perhaps a reflection of the fact that characters with ambivalent morals tend to be more interesting, that I found myself lining up more with Farweather, the main antagonist, rather than with Dz.I only have two small moans. One is the not uncommon urge for the author to tweak just one aspect of the language - in this case, Bear changes the names for time units. So, for instance, days become diars and light years (I know it's not a time unit, but it's the time part of it that changes) become light-ans. Any far-future book is, in effect, translating the language, and it just doesn't make sense to change one tiny aspect - particularly one that's used by science, so is more likely to remain consistent. It just grated a little. The other small issue is that the book is rather too long, mostly because the author's motto of 'show don't tell' is ignored and we get long internal monologues - often lasting several pages - which don't move much forward. This contrasts with the dialogues, where the political side of the ideas strand is mostly advanced, which, if anything, can be too short.These points are small though. This is certainly the best science fiction novel I've read in 2019 so far and I look forward to see how Bear develops the characters and her impressively rich universe.
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  • The Captain
    January 1, 1970
    Ahoy there me mateys! I have really been enjoying my foray into Elizabeth Bear’s works and this was no exception. This story follows Haimey Dz who is a member of a three person salvage crew. A routine salvage trip turns to disaster when the ship they attempt to retrieve is a crime scene. And Haimey also catches an unknown alien virus. What results is a foray into ancient alien technology, dealing with space pirates, and exploring Haimey’s own past.While I enjoyed this book, it was a very odd rea Ahoy there me mateys! I have really been enjoying my foray into Elizabeth Bear’s works and this was no exception. This story follows Haimey Dz who is a member of a three person salvage crew. A routine salvage trip turns to disaster when the ship they attempt to retrieve is a crime scene. And Haimey also catches an unknown alien virus. What results is a foray into ancient alien technology, dealing with space pirates, and exploring Haimey’s own past.While I enjoyed this book, it was a very odd read to me. Part of this stems from the fact that there is a lot of physics in this book about the folding of space time and travel. As I continue to state, physics and I are not friends. There was also a small section about music theory that went over me noggin. But most of me personal problems stem from the world-building and plot pacing.Elizabeth Bear’s fantasy series are dense in descriptions and ideas that make the fantasy worlds feel real. The plots are meandering and slow-paced. The action sequences are spaced out and a lot of the information feels like filler that is super fun but could be removed. I loved it in her fantasy books. This space book had all of those writing hallmarks but the sequences failed to capture me fancy in quite the same way. I had to put down the book at several points because I was slightly bored with the descriptions of the tech or philosophical platitudes.In fact, I really would categorize this book more as a character study. The sections regarding Haimey and how she deals with the “sexy pirate” or the uses of her internal brain computer or her memories to be the highlights of this book for me. I also enjoyed what existed of the interplay being Haimey and her crew. The psychological effects of Haimey’s entire journey is really what kept me reading and what interested me the most.This book will not suit every reader. While the plot is character driven, this is a book of ideas at its core. There are philosophical conundrums like how to run a society, the responsibilities of individual, the uses of technology, the applications and rights of artificial intelligence, genetic modifications, the fundamental nature of personalities, etc. I stuck with this book because I know that the endings of Bear’s books usually pan out and make the journey worth it. This was no exception. Plus there is a giant praying mantis space detective.Apparently this is the first in a duology. Though in Bear’s interview with Barnes & Noble she states that “It’s not exactly accurate to call it a duology, however. It’s two related books, which will have some continuing characters, but each one should stand on its own as an arc and a story . . . The second book, which is titled Machine, is about a woman is a space trauma rescue specialist for an enormous multi-species medical center.” Sign me up!Check out me other reviews at https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordp...
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  • Bonnie McDaniel
    January 1, 1970
    This book pretty much hit all my sweet spots. A memorable voice and a deep dive into the history and character of the protagonist? Check.A smart-ass AI with tremendous loyalty to his friends? Check. A far-future world with a multispecies empire of questionable moral authority (to say the least--artificial manipulation of hormones and brain chemicals to fit in is an accepted and even mandated thing)? Check. A thoughtful exploration of the issues raised by said empire? Check. Ships as big as plane This book pretty much hit all my sweet spots. A memorable voice and a deep dive into the history and character of the protagonist? Check.A smart-ass AI with tremendous loyalty to his friends? Check. A far-future world with a multispecies empire of questionable moral authority (to say the least--artificial manipulation of hormones and brain chemicals to fit in is an accepted and even mandated thing)? Check. A thoughtful exploration of the issues raised by said empire? Check. Ships as big as planets, with one ship parked for thirty thousand years just inside the event horizon of the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy? Check. A sapient, deep-space-dwelling species that seems to be a combination of space whale/seahorse with an Ancient Elder damn near as big as the aforementioned black hole Prize? Check. And a main character who goes on quite the tumultuous personal journey, discovering things about herself kept hidden for twenty years, who at the end makes a firm decision to break free of her previous fears and limitations, and be the person she decides she is going to be, not the person various factions have tried to force her to be throughout her life? Check. That's this book. It is not a quick read, despite being, in many ways, a classic space opera. It is deliberate, thoughtful and chewy, and deserves to be read slowly and savored. I think it would reward multiple reads. I loved it.
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  • Jasmine
    January 1, 1970
    Q: "What’s your elevator pitch for Ancestral Night duology?"A: “Uber, but for ancient alien artifacts caught in the hinges of space!”Okay, I’m slightly kidding, but what a great question! It’s not exactly accurate to call it a duology, however. It’s two related books, which will have some continuing characters, but each one should stand on its own as an arc and a story. So I’m structuring it more like Cherryh’s or Banks’s space operas, where a number of independent novels take place in the same Q: "What’s your elevator pitch for Ancestral Night duology?"A: “Uber, but for ancient alien artifacts caught in the hinges of space!”Okay, I’m slightly kidding, but what a great question! It’s not exactly accurate to call it a duology, however. It’s two related books, which will have some continuing characters, but each one should stand on its own as an arc and a story. So I’m structuring it more like Cherryh’s or Banks’s space operas, where a number of independent novels take place in the same universe. And who knows, if these work out there might be more!So with that in mind, Ancestral Night is a book about a shoestring space salvage operator who isn’t who she believes herself to be, uncovering the secrets of a universe that is much vaster and more treacherous than she understands. Also, pirates, and politics, and a giant praying mantis space cop.So this interview is great and I'm psyched.
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  • Lashaan Balasingam (Bookidote)
    January 1, 1970
    You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.To imagine the future is a challenge that can be quite daunting. The intricate details that allow us to distinguish what is possible in the years to come from what is of the domain of dreams are what help sell worlds and universes to a reader. Without falling into a trap where too much exposition gives you more elements to marinate in and question its authenticity, some authors are able to paint a much more self-contained and genuine cosmos rath You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.To imagine the future is a challenge that can be quite daunting. The intricate details that allow us to distinguish what is possible in the years to come from what is of the domain of dreams are what help sell worlds and universes to a reader. Without falling into a trap where too much exposition gives you more elements to marinate in and question its authenticity, some authors are able to paint a much more self-contained and genuine cosmos rather than delivering a universe that drowns in overwhelming extravagance. With Elizabeth Bear’s latest series, she presents readers with a space opera that challenges its readers with huge ideas and philosophies that are all conveyed through a single character who remains the driving force of the entire novel. There’s no denying that my time within Elizabeth Bear’s latest world has been nothing but immersive. In fact, that would be an understatement.What is Ancestral Night about? The story follows space engineer and salvager Halmey Dz, her space pilot and comrade Connla Kurucz as well as her AI spaceship Singer in an excavation through space that leads them to discover alien vessels. However, the encounter with an unknown parasite brings Halmey Dz to adapt her activities according to her newly-attached friend. While it is more than meets the eye, this entity brings the squad to learn new details on its nature and Halmey to walk down a path of discovery filled with introspection and self-discovery. Things become a bit more complicated when the stakes are quintupled with the introduction of space pirates and the danger that they come with. Ancestral Night isn’t your usual space opera as its character-driven narrative allows Elizabeth Bear to deliver a metaphysical commentary on human lifeforms and invite the reader to ponder philosophical questions around individuals, societies, technology and politics.The inconspicuous debate on nature versus nurture has settled down over the years to give way to existential questions that bring individuals to simmer in these waters during long periods of reflection. It remains, however, a wonderful idea to exploit to further dissect humans and their complicated behaviours. The personality of each individual is a staple example of the complexity of mankind as each person is identified by singular traits that often bloom within them at a very young age. While some are able to modulate their behaviours and attitudes throughout life, others embrace them and live on with what they assume they are.But what happens when a certain technology allows you to regulate your emotions, thus adapting your personality according to your situation and preferences? With the help of a sensorium, protagonist Halmey Dz is able to request from her AI spaceship any dose of chemicals to affect and regulate her emotional, psychological and physical state. Elizabeth Bear’s effortless story-telling skills allow her to discuss such a system within her narrative to propel this story in incredibly engaging and thought-provoking directions that allow the reader to look beyond the first degree throughout this space opera. Her ambitious ideas are brilliantly developed and give her story the intellectual edge that is rarely seen within this genre.Although her futuristic ideas and accent on atavism garner a lot of attention throughout the story, the main arc remains character-centric and delivers a moderately-paced space chase with specks of political ideas that keep the adventure alive and dynamic. The banter between the main crew is also filled with cynical and sarcastic overtones that convey a long-standing camaraderie and stimulates the readers’ sense of belonging among these space adventurers confined within a vast universe filled with mysterious creatures and artifacts. While the protagonist does sometimes digress on certain ideas and stretch out the story unnecessarily, the overall story progresses in creative and alluring ways.Ancestral Night is a riveting and ingenious space opera that delivers a character-driven story centered around identity and an original universe that takes a life of its own through excellent characterization and world-building.Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada and Saga Press for sending me a copy for review!Yours truly,Lashaan | Blogger and Book ReviewerOfficial blog: https://bookidote.com/
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  • Larou
    January 1, 1970
    Not too long ago, I was writing about a book co-written by Elizabeth Bear and bemoaning the lack of pirates therein. Now, just two months later, I am writing about her most recent novel, and you know what? It not only has pirates in it, but they’re space pirates! To paraphrase Goethe, some days one feels seriously tempted to believe that there may exist a benevolent God after all.Ancestral Night is, I think, Elizabeth Bear’s first straightforward Science Fiction novel since her Jacob’s Ladder tr Not too long ago, I was writing about a book co-written by Elizabeth Bear and bemoaning the lack of pirates therein. Now, just two months later, I am writing about her most recent novel, and you know what? It not only has pirates in it, but they’re space pirates! To paraphrase Goethe, some days one feels seriously tempted to believe that there may exist a benevolent God after all.Ancestral Night is, I think, Elizabeth Bear’s first straightforward Science Fiction novel since her Jacob’s Ladder trilogy and appears to be set in the same universe as that one (I have not read the trilogy yet, but Ancestral Night openly references it at one stage). It is space opera, but not in the over-the-top vein practiced by E.E. Smith and his successors but rather in the low-key, both scientifically and psychologically realistic vein introduced by C.J. Cherryh with her genre-changing Downbelow Station but with some added super tech, which in, which in turn is somewhat reminiscent of the late great Iain M. Banks (it even got me wondering whether Bear may not have intended the Synarche (the galactic civilization she describes here) as a kind of proto-Culture). And it is, by far more obviously than The Cobbler's Boy was, a riff off Stevenson’s Treasure Island . It even has a Long John Silver analogue in Sexy Pirate Zanya Farweather, who may not quite live up to the original (but then, seriously, who does?) but comes very close indeed.For its first half, the novel seems quite linear – our first person protagonist Haimey Dz and her two team members (one of them an AI) attempt to salvage a stranded alien star ship, are attacked by pirates and then hunted through half the galaxy. Then there is a sudden and quite sharp turn of events, Haimey finds out that she is not who we (or indeed, she herself) thought she was, and the novel switches to introspection and psychodrama, only for the narrative to change direction again and culminate in a treasure hunt. And ongoing through all of this are discussions about politics, identity, freedom and several other big concepts, making this an adventure novel of ideas; and in the tradition of the very best Science Fiction the debates are just as adventurous as the action. at about 500 pages, the novel is not even that huge, but it is crammed full with enough action and ideas to easily have filled a thousand pages under the pen of a lesser writer. Bear, however manages to juggle both her action apples and her concept coconuts so well that she not only never drops any of them but also creates an interwoven pattern in which they enhance and emphasize each other. Every time the action pauses to let the reader catch their breath, there is some pertinent political debate, a fascinating philosophical point or just some scintillating piece of world building to delight in. It’s all brilliantly constructed (but of course, one would not expect anything else from Elizabeth Bear) and a lot of fun to read (which, again, is no surprise with this particular author). Ancestral Night is both thought-provoking and an enjoyable romp and strongly recommended. Apparently, Bear is currently writing on a not-quite-a-sequel novel which will be set in the same universe and while not being a direct continuation will share some links with Ancestral Nights – needless to say, I am very much looking forward to that.Oh, and I’d totally read a novel about space mantis cop investigating crime.
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  • Mike
    January 1, 1970
    3.0 out of 5 starsMy first foray into Elizabeth Bear’s work was her excellent 2017 fantasy novel The Stone in the Skull, which I enjoyed immensely. I knew that Bear is known for writing in a multitude of genres, but I wasn’t prepared for the genre whiplash I experienced when I picked up the space opera Ancestral Night. The book follows Haimey Dz, a space salvager who uncovers a piece of ancient alien technology that, in the wrong hands, could be catastrophic for the galaxy at large. ...lo and be 3.0 out of 5 starsMy first foray into Elizabeth Bear’s work was her excellent 2017 fantasy novel The Stone in the Skull, which I enjoyed immensely. I knew that Bear is known for writing in a multitude of genres, but I wasn’t prepared for the genre whiplash I experienced when I picked up the space opera Ancestral Night. The book follows Haimey Dz, a space salvager who uncovers a piece of ancient alien technology that, in the wrong hands, could be catastrophic for the galaxy at large. ...lo and behold, space pirates are hot on Haimey’s trail.This is really sharp, smart science fiction that goes deep on the details and philosophy of its world and Haimey herself. Bear’s vision for the future of space is so intricate and sophisticated that a lot of it flew way over my head. Tonally, it’s quite cold and calculated, which made it difficult for me to form lasting emotional connections to the characters. I enjoyed learning about Haimey’s backstory and witnessing her connection to her shipmates, but those moments of humanity seemed fleeting. I think the plot description makes this sound like an exciting space adventure, but I found it to be quite slow, contemplative, and unevenly-paced overall.  The prose is dense and difficult to penetrate at times, with many of the scientific elements pushing well beyond my realm of understanding.I could certainly see this winning some awards because it really feels like next-level science fiction and more advanced than most of what I’ve read in the genre. Personally, I wasn’t able to connect with the story, but I come away from the reading experience even more impressed with Bear’s skill as a writer and would not be surprised if others enjoyed this more than I did.My thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.See this review and others at The Speculative Shelf.
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  • S. Naomi Scott
    January 1, 1970
    Warning: there may be spoilers in this review.I really enjoyed this one. It's a modern space opera with a lot of big ideas, all filtered down through the eyes of the central protagonist, Haimey Dz. Haimey is the engineer on a salvage vessel, along with her crewmates Connla (the pilot), Singer (the shipmind), and Mephistopheles and Bushyasta (the ship's cats), and together they bounce around the galaxy in search of hard-to-salvage wrecks. Oh, and there are space pirates and giant space seahorses. Warning: there may be spoilers in this review.I really enjoyed this one. It's a modern space opera with a lot of big ideas, all filtered down through the eyes of the central protagonist, Haimey Dz. Haimey is the engineer on a salvage vessel, along with her crewmates Connla (the pilot), Singer (the shipmind), and Mephistopheles and Bushyasta (the ship's cats), and together they bounce around the galaxy in search of hard-to-salvage wrecks. Oh, and there are space pirates and giant space seahorses. At least, I imagine them as giant space seahorses.The story begins with the crew going after a ship that's been trapped in a scar in space-time. Hainey takes a spacewalk across to the derelict where she triggers a booby trap and finds herself getting infected with a parasite that seems to gift her with some unusual sensory abilities. Before the crew can lay claim to the wreck, however, a pirate ship turns up and starts shooting and the salvagers have to hightail it back to civilisation empty-handed. There then follows a run-in with an overly officious station administrator, an ambiguous encounter with the local spacecop (who just happens to be a giant space mantis), and even more pirates. And that's just the start of the fun and games for Hainey and her companions.At its core, this is a classic adventure story, with a hunt for treasure leading to an ancient artefact trapped inside the event horizon of the Milky Way's supermassive black hole, which in turn leads them on to a mysterious megastructure drifting in the space between galaxies. There are chases and battles and intrigue aplenty, but there's also so much more to this story than simple adventure. There's those big ideas I mentioned at the start of this review.Layered in with the action there's a massive exploration of Hainey's past. She was raised in a clade, an homogenous society where everyone's personality is carefully controlled to maximise happiness and right-thinking. As per the laws of the dominant society, the Synarche, she was allowed to leave the clade for a year and during that time got into some trouble with a girlfriend, leading to her memories of that time being suppressed/rewritten but leaving her with massive amounts of guilt about what happened. However, as the story unfolds and Haimey finds herself trapped alone with sexy space pirate Zanya Farweather for a sizeable chunk of the narrative, we learn that what Haimey knows of her past may not be as clear-cut as she'd like to believe.This is where this book really stands out. The exploration of the characters, especially Haimey herself, is amazingly well written, and the author really does an excellent job of showing Haimey's growth as she tries to come to terms with the truth of her past. We also get some nicely written commentary on the social mores of the Synarche and the Freeporters (the pirates) and their opposing views on the use of neural tech to self-regulate emotions. There are some pretty deep discussions going on in the text and subtext of this novel. For me, that makes this book an excellent addition to the current crop of space opera tales.If you're a fan of Banks' Culture novels, or Reynolds' Revelation Space series then you'll find plenty in this book to keep you happy. It's definitely a five-star book and I'll be surprised if it doesn't pick up a nomination or two in next year's award season. The only niggle I have is now I have to wait for the next one.
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  • mith
    January 1, 1970
    idk but i just really love this title
  • John
    January 1, 1970
    The author is a fine thinker and a talented storyteller but here the two qualities really come into conflict, as the action keeps taking loooong breaks so the characters can engage in extended ruminations and discussions. I felt guilty about skipping the disquisitions...maybe will go back some time and reread for the political and social essays. The storyline is terrific, though, and as for the cast...the outsized preying mantis cop alone is worth the price of admission.
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  • Elaine
    January 1, 1970
    Enjoyed the general gist of the book, but large swathes of the book were people discussing the wider purpose of society etc - gave me traumatic flashbacks to philosophy class in high school. It made for a lot of skipping ahead.
  • Sana
    January 1, 1970
    THE COVER, THOUGHAlso, 'about a shoestring space salvage operator who isn’t who she believes herself to be, uncovering the secrets of a universe that is much vaster and more treacherous than she understands. Also, pirates, and politics, and a giant praying mantis space cop' \O/
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  • Kris Sellgren
    January 1, 1970
    Engineer Haimey, pilot Connla, and ship AI Singer are deep space salvage operators. They, and their two cats, follow a lead to discover a derelict ship with really cool technology and evidence of terrible crimes. But pirates attack! Haimey and friends flee to the nearest space station with cops. Pirates are there too! They flee to the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, where they find an even cooler ship with ancient, powerful technology. Is Haimey lucky, or is she being led Engineer Haimey, pilot Connla, and ship AI Singer are deep space salvage operators. They, and their two cats, follow a lead to discover a derelict ship with really cool technology and evidence of terrible crimes. But pirates attack! Haimey and friends flee to the nearest space station with cops. Pirates are there too! They flee to the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, where they find an even cooler ship with ancient, powerful technology. Is Haimey lucky, or is she being led to cool space wrecks because pirates want something she knows? Then pirates attack! Bad things happen! Haimey is stranded on the cooler ship for months with a Sexy Pirate (author’s capitalization). More bad things happen. Finally Haimey arrives at a really really cool ancient artifact. The book ends with a big battle between pirates and good beings. Do the good beings win? Is Haimey seduced by the Sexy Pirate? Read to find out. I thought this SF novel needed editing. There was too much witty repartee and too much interior dialogue. The pace was slow despite pirates and space pirates. It was a real departure in tone from Bear’s usual F/SF. The description of the surroundings of our supermassive black hole was excellent, with few technical errors (this is my research field). I liked how the current name — Sgr A* (pronounced Sadge A star) — had evolved over time to Saga Star in Bear’s universe. I also loved the cats on the ship (how *does* one build a zero gee litter box?).
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  • Dave Creek
    January 1, 1970
    In the Author's Note to ANCESTRAL NIGHT, Elizabeth Bear tells us the book came about because her friend and occasional editor Simon Spanton was looking for a "big-idea space opera." She's succeeded in creating a tale that not only brings all the action and excitement we expect from that genre, but some sharp characterizations and some good old-fashioned sense of wonder, and what that wonder means to us. Halmey Dz is the first-person narrator, a salvage operator aboard a ship called Singer, who i In the Author's Note to ANCESTRAL NIGHT, Elizabeth Bear tells us the book came about because her friend and occasional editor Simon Spanton was looking for a "big-idea space opera." She's succeeded in creating a tale that not only brings all the action and excitement we expect from that genre, but some sharp characterizations and some good old-fashioned sense of wonder, and what that wonder means to us. Halmey Dz is the first-person narrator, a salvage operator aboard a ship called Singer, who is as deftly-drawn a character as any of the humans and aliens populating her story. It's a narrative path we've seen before, as Dz and her human partner Connia Kunucz look for that big score, but find more than they bargained for. But Bear keeps it all fresh as Dz, Kunucz, and Singer discover much more than they anticipated, and Dz, in particular, learns more about herself and her own past than she bargained for.https://amzn.to/2TJoKAG
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  • Stella
    January 1, 1970
    The most interesting thing about this book was all the psychology discussions. The plot got a little muddled, but I did in general like the protagonist. There were a few too many small winks at classic literature and "quaint" notions of the societies of the past, but I found it an okay social SF book.
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  • Pablo V
    January 1, 1970
    Is a night out for tomorrow night
  • Nils
    January 1, 1970
    Die Handlung geht am Anfang extrem langsam voran. Dadurch kann der Roman aber seine Figuren aufbauen, die dann im letzten Drittel in die Vollen gehen.
  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    Great premis, delivery though was wrapped up in the angst of "who am I?" and "should i eat the shrimp on a cracker even though I'm starving". Not my favorite from a respected author.
  • Slonina Kowalska
    January 1, 1970
    I'm halfway through and still no sign of a plot - just a lot of random encounters. I'm assuming the plot is not forthcoming. Some fun ideas and writing isn't bad, but in general it seems disjointed and pointless. DNF
  • Marsha Wallace
    January 1, 1970
    If you’re a fan of internal narration in your sci-fi, this book is the mothership. Haimey Dz is an engineer with extra hands instead of feet aboard a two-man + 1 AI salvage operation, and because space is so big, there’s plenty of time for her to tell you all about her galatarian utopian civilization. She serves a heavy soup of tech terms, but you’ll acquire the taste as you discover the lost technology of an ancient alien race, alongside discovering Haimey’s own past, and then rediscovering it If you’re a fan of internal narration in your sci-fi, this book is the mothership. Haimey Dz is an engineer with extra hands instead of feet aboard a two-man + 1 AI salvage operation, and because space is so big, there’s plenty of time for her to tell you all about her galatarian utopian civilization. She serves a heavy soup of tech terms, but you’ll acquire the taste as you discover the lost technology of an ancient alien race, alongside discovering Haimey’s own past, and then rediscovering it again with her as the plot twists.It’s a two+decans (decades?) space chase from pirates all the way to the black hole at the core of the galaxy, and then a two+decans space chase back to its edge with star dragons making guest appearances. Thankfully, immortality (agelessness) seems to be an unspoken blessing here, and Dz can spend her dias (days) reading old books from Earth or eating algae while being tucked away in a hidey hole to evade her psychopathic pirate kidnapper.The book does leave us with unanswered questions like – Are all space pirates in this universe psychopaths, or just the one chasing our heroine? And wouldn’t it be fun to bounce cats around ships in 0g like Haimey?It’s tough to make me care about characters, but one of Bear’s strengths in this novel was how much she connected me with Connla (the pilot) and especially Singer, the shipmind AI. Bear’s portrayal of a superior AI incessantly having to cope with meatminds is absolutely hilarious.The other strength of the novel are the concepts of Bear’s vision for what a galatarian utopian civilization looks like. In this regard, the novel is more philosophy than space opera. If you spend unending days at the heart of this utopia enjoying luxury and never needing to work, where would you find your place? What leads someone like Haimey to abandon an easy life and hunt down derelict ships on the fringes for salvage? When and why do people revolt against this utopia? And what ethics get compromised to maintain galatarian peace and order?Sacrificing some of the internal narration, I would have liked to explore more of the people and places in this galaxy. This also would have allowed for a more diverse and complex plot with faster pacing, as readers might expect in a space opera.
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  • Chad Cressley
    January 1, 1970
    The first half the book is a little slow, but the overall plot isn’t bad. The real downside is the pathetic protagonist and unlikable antagonist. The only enjoyable characters are supporting characters, and they aren’t around enough.It doesn’t help that it’s written in first person.
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  • Glennis
    January 1, 1970
    A member of a small salvage ship is infected with illegal tech and is on the run from the pirates that were harvesting the technology on the derelict ship. Halmey, Connla and the ship AI Singer are on the run from the pirates and trying to report the crime to authorities that will listen to them. The pirates beat them to their port of choice and try to recruit Halmey to their cause to use the tech she has become infected with. The pirates seem to know more about her past history than either her A member of a small salvage ship is infected with illegal tech and is on the run from the pirates that were harvesting the technology on the derelict ship. Halmey, Connla and the ship AI Singer are on the run from the pirates and trying to report the crime to authorities that will listen to them. The pirates beat them to their port of choice and try to recruit Halmey to their cause to use the tech she has become infected with. The pirates seem to know more about her past history than either her work partner or ship do and that bothers Halmey as well. Lots of good worldbuilding abound in this story and the aliens come across as aliens and not just other humans. I really enjoyed it and can’t wait for more. Digital review copy provided by the publisher through Edelweiss
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