Book ReviewJun 28, 2023

Book Review:
Translation State by Ann Leckie

Translation State

Published June 6, 2023 by

I received this book for free from the publisher.
This did not affect my opinion or the content of this review.

Summary of Translation State

The mystery of a missing translator sets three lives on a collision course that will have a ripple effect across galaxies in this powerful new novel by one of the masters of modern science fiction. Translation State is at once a sweeping space adventure and a brilliant exploration of how in order to belong, we must first become.

When Enae’s grandmaman passes away, Enae inherits something entirely unexpected: a diplomatic assignment to track down a fugitive who has been missing for over 200 years. No one actually expects Enae to succeed; it’s an empty assignment meant to keep hir occupied. But Enae has never had a true purpose—no one ever expected hir to do more than care for grandmaman—so sie is determined to accomplish this task to the best of hir ability.

Reet knows nothing about his biological family. He loves his adoptive parents, but has always secretly yearned to understand his identity, the roots that would explain why he seems to operate just a bit differently. After all, no one else hungers to study the world by ripping it apart, by slicing into those around them in order to make sense of things. So when a political group approaches him with the claim that he has ties to a genetically mysterious, long-deceased family, Reet is only too eager to believe them.

Qven was created to be a Presgr translator. The pride of their Clade, they always had a clear path before them: learn human ways, and eventually, make a match and serve as an intermediary between the dangerous alien Presgr and the human worlds. The realization that they might want something different isn’t “optimal behavior”. It’s the type of behavior that will have you eliminated. But Qven rebels anyway, determined to find a way to belong on their own terms.

As a Conclave of the various species approaches—and the long-standing treaty between the humans and the Presgr is on the line—the paths of all three will collide in a chain of events that will have ripple effects across galaxies.

My thoughts

A new book set in the same world as Ann Leckie’s beloved Ancillary Justice trilogy, as a standalone companion. As a big fan of the original trilogy, I couldn’t have been more excited and was not at all disappointed.

You might enjoy this book if you like:

Character driven stories

Come on board the Inner Conflict Express. Here you’ll get to meet three very different characters, all with their very own struggles, all not quite sure about their place in life and who they want to be, just trying to figure out where to go from here…

Queernorm worlds

Use of neo-pronouns, gender/pronoun-questioning characters, discussions on what gender even means, all wrapped in a story that says “be what/whoever you want to be” (both in terms of queer but also in a general sense), with lots of supporting (in both senses) characters who turn this into the most wholesome read.

Cozy scifi

Going hand in hand with the character driven aspect, Translation State has less action packed sequences and is generally more about its characters getting deep into their thoughts and emotions, thinking about their place in the world. There’s lots of sitting down to eat and drink tea/coffee and giving you the cozy vibes.

Wibbly wobbly space time stuff

I was enjoying the whole book from start to finish but I gotta admit, the last bit was what turned this one into a favorite for me. When a bit of brain fuckery, space “science” happened. The cozy vibes didn’t exactly move over, but it did get a pinch of excitement in there.

Would I recommend this book to people who haven’t read the original trilogy? Very likely so. It’s harder to say when you actually have read the trilogy but then I do have a poor memory and don’t think you might be missing any facts to fully enjoy this, especially as this is very much about it’s three main characters, and lesser about the world it is set in.

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