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I'm in the unusual position of having a number of review to-dos stacked up. Rather than scheduling them for the next half dozen Fridays, let's just have some extras now.

My impressions of this book shifted a lot during the process or reading it. For much of the middle, I was afraid it was going to be one of those “liked but didn’t love” books, and then things really ramped up in the last couple of chapters. Ramped up almost too quickly, in fact, but the shift meant that I was left with a much stronger liking for the book than I thought I would.

I always mean to do these book intake posts more regularly. (Maybe I have and I failed to tag them properly?) But the point when I say, "I need to get these in the spreadsheet so I can shelve them" is at least a reasonable trigger. And it's well past time that I cataloged books I picked up on my travels in Europe last year! So, in some vaguely thematic groupings:

Books bought at Worldcon in Helsinki

There will proably be spoilers in this review, although I'm not really going to be focusing much on plot issues--more just a jumbled collection of emotional reactions. But if you haven't seen the movie and don't want any substantial elements spoiled, don't read this.

OK, are we all still on the same page?

Just a few quick notes or they'll get lost in the vacation/holiday shuffle.

I bought Barbary Station by R.E. Stearns based on the response of various advance reviewers that boiled down to “lesbian space pirates; what more could you want?” Well, evidently I want more. Barbary Station appears to be a competently written space opera involving pirates, malevolent AIs, and bionically-enhanced cyber-hacking engineers. The central protagonists are a same-sex couple in a pre-existing and utterly taken for granted relationship. But having gotten four chapters in, I have yet to find myself caring what happens to them or whether they succeed.

Spring Flowering by Farah Mendlesohn is a gentle, domestic Regency romance, more in the vein of Jane Austen with its parson’s daughters and the family dynamics of middle class families “in trade”, than in the vein of Georgette Heyer’s dashing aristocrats and gothic perils. Ann Gray’s life is disrupted by the death of her father, the village parson, and she joins the bustling household of her cousins in Birmingham where the family business manufacturing buttons, jewelry, and other small metal accessories becomes the framework of her new social life.

My friends are often frustrated at my resistance to their suggestions of books or movies they think I’d like. “This is just up your alley! You’ll love it! You liked X so you’re going to love Y! I think this is really your sort of thing!” When I don’t want to deal, I’ll point out that I have an enormous to-be-read list already and mumble something about adding it to the list, or I’ll leave my movie-going up to the chance of which movies my friends are getting a group up to see when I happen to be available.

If Ancillary Justice was a fascinating tour in non-linear exposition, and Ancillary Sword felt like a cozy mystery set in the midst of a space opera, Ancillary Mercy struck me as an interstellar version of the folktale motif “six go through the world”. That is, a protagonist accumulates a set of unlikely and improbable allies simply due to treating those she encounters with honesty, empathy, and (if you will forgive the word) humanity, to find that those allies come through with a vengeance when the chips are down.

Somehow I failed to review this when I finished it, quite possibly because that happened in the chaos leading up to my summer travel.

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