120. Timothy Zahn - Heir to the Empire
I felt like re-reading the Thrawn trilogy, and still find it to be among the best of the extended universe Star Wars stuff. The writing isn’t always the tightest and there’s a reliance on referencing stuff that happens in the movies, but it’s likely a contractual obligation when writing this type of book. Overall though, Zahn does a good job of presenting the characters, and adding plenty who would become fan favourites in their own right.
119. Ann Leckie - Ancillary Justice
A stupid title and overly macho cover make this space opera a not altogether appealing prospect, which is a shame because Leckie’s debut novel has the guts to try something different. Rather than appeal to the Hard SF crowd as many ‘new space opera’ writers do, Leckie’s novel hearkens back to the use of ‘soft sciences’ by the likes of Le Guin. There’s little military posturing, but a lot of ruminating on the antropology of the Radch empire and its refusal to use gendered pronouns. It’s maybe a little incomplete, but the author’s commitment to the idea is a welcome relief in a genre where political bodies all too often mirror those of our recent past. The narrative, from a fragment of a hive personality, also dives into ideas of personhood and innatism/behavourism, which is probably more competently addressed as Leckie marks it as a central element of the plot. Still, this is her first novel and at points it shows, with slow passages and narrative wobbles (with an especially irritating use of flashbacks that takes a while to abate), not to mention a frustrating lack of scene-setting and description, which leaves the reader a little confused as to what is going on at points. Overall though, Ancillary Justice is a welcome surprise, and well worth a look for daring to try something a little different.