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Our Discussion of Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear

Ancestral Night (White Space #1) by Elizabeth

Haimey Dz thinks she knows what she wants. She thinks she knows who she is. She is wrong.

A routine salvage mission uncovers evidence of a terrible crime and relics of powerful ancient technology. Haimey and her small crew run afoul of pirates at the outer limits of the Milky Way, and find themselves on the run and in possession of universe-changing information.

When authorities prove corrupt, Haimey realizes that she is the only one who can protect her galaxy-spanning civilization from the implications of this ancient technology—and the revolutionaries who want to use it for terror and war. Her quest will take her careening from the event horizon of the supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s core to the infinite, empty spaces at its edge.

To save everything that matters, she will need to uncover the secrets of ancient intelligences lost to time—and her own lost secrets, which she will wish had remained hidden from her forever. Goodreads

Below are a sampling of our comments:

  • The space dragons were really cool, like sea dragons, seahorses, or squid, with lots of tentacles
  • I liked the inventiveness that different creatures could communicate and understand each other
  • There was a lot of discussion and chit chat, but I found it very interesting
  • Philosophical discussions were an important part of the book
  • Some of the physics described are based on real proposals and are semi-real physics
  • There were a lot of parallels to Wanderers in the politics and characters. The book was also similar to Binti in that Haimey was raised by a commune and was controlled by it
  • Haimey was an unreliable narrator – we find out who they are along with Haimey
  • A lot of the references were over my head – classical literature was cited throughout like Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter
  • It reminded me of Firefly, especially the space pirates and the idea that if you don’t agree with the people in the core, you can go to the rim and be free of rules
  • I knew all along that the cats were not dead. The cats had meaningful names: Mephistopheles stands for a crafty, powerful, and sardonic being, and Bushyasta represents sloth and laziness

*Per Theresa: Naomi Kritzer's 2017 pandemic short story "So Much Cooking" is free online, with link to audio version!

Please add any additional thoughts or comments you have about Ancestral Night. We gave this title the codes POL, CUL, ETH, AI, XEN, HDS, PHI, & CATS with an average rating of 4.0.

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