Haimey DZ is an engineer on a salvage ship, the space tug Singer, which she shares with handsome pilot Connla Kurucz, an A.I. brain, and two cats...
Pursued across time and the outer limits of space by a sexy, ruthless pirate, and befriended by a sardonic, praying mantis the size of a horse, Haimey’s troubled past starts to catch up with her at warp speed.
Gravity manipulation is a running theme in this awesome, awe-inspiring space opera. Fittingly, it shifts from weighty themes to lighter humour with dexterity, grace and crackling dialogue.
"One Booker shortlist later, Galley Beggar were proved correct. Ellmann’s novel isn’t perfect, and it may not take the prize, but in a world where Ian McEwan is still at large, something introspective and richly painted is a tonic for us all...."
— The Daily Telegraph
4.25 out of 5
Elizabeth Bear is just as comfortable writing steampunk and fantasy as she is hard science fiction, and Ancestral Night, first half of a duology, brims with heady concepts and sleek far-future hardware. There is a mordant wit at work, not least in the characterisation of Singer, a spaceship AI. What lets the novel down somewhat are its congested pace and lengthy passages of moral philosophising.
Despite that snag, I found the novel reasonably engaging and well-executed. It contains big objects and big ideas but predominantly skims their surfaces, giving enough complexity for an argument about social structures to evolve without chewing to the bone on those same concepts (though I do adore some good bone-chewing, in this metaphor). For a reader who is daunted by the brick-sized tomes of this sort of science fiction, Ancestral Night offers a potential starting point. It’s got a plot rich in dramatic action plus debates on politics while also encompassing the vast alienation of outer space on an emotional level.