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TRANSLATION STATE by Ann Leckie Kirkus Star


by Ann Leckie

Pub Date: June 6th, 2023
ISBN: 9780316289719
Publisher: Orbit

A seemingly pointless quest ignites a political firestorm in this space opera follow-up to the Imperial Radch trilogy and Provenance (2017).

Enae Athtur (whose pronouns are sie/hir) is forced from hir childhood home and hir comfort zone to take a job for the Saeniss Polity’s Office of Diplomacy that’s intended as a sinecure: searching for traces of a fugitive Presger Translator who disappeared 200 years ago. Meanwhile, despite having been raised by kindly foster parents, Reet Hluid has never quite fit in anywhere. Ignorant of his origins, trapped in a dead-end job, friendless, and tormented by strangely compelling daydreams of vivisecting the people he meets, he thinks he’s finally found community with the Siblings of Hikipu. On what appears to be very little evidence, they claim that Reet is a Schan, a scion of their long-vanished royal line, and welcome him to their fellowship, which celebrates their cultural heritage…and perhaps dabbles in a little terrorism. And Qven, brought up in the innocently violent nursery of the Presger Translators, fears losing themself in the transition to adulthood, which involves a physical and mental merging with another person; their attempt to escape that apparent inevitability leads to Qven’s permanent disgrace. When Enae does what no one expects—actually finding the trail of the lost Translator—it upends the lives of Enae, Reet, and Qven and threatens the treaty that protects humanity from the Presger, an impossibly powerful and enigmatic alien race. It all sounds very complicated—and it is, enjoyably so—but basically, this is yet another opportunity for Leckie to explore her favorite themes: the meaning of family, humanity, and the right to one’s personhood. Although the novel is mostly set outside the Radch Empire, the events of that trilogy and of Provenance have a profound effect on the action here, and they also share some characters. This work also addresses many questions from the previous books about the peculiar behavior of Translators, whose originally human DNA has been substantially reengineered by the Presger.

Another of Leckie’s beautiful mergings of the political, philosophical, and personal.