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Ann Leckie Refused To Change Ancillary Justice's Unusual Pronouns

Illustration for article titled Ann Leckie Refused To Change emAncillary Justice/ems Unusual Pronouns

One of the most notable things about Ann Leckie's Nebula and Clarke-winning novel Ancillary Justice is its unusual pronoun use, which she talked a lot about when she answered your questions. In a new profile, she explains how she was told it would make the book unpublishable.


Top image: Alan Lynch.

Without giving too much away, Leckie's novel handles gender in an unusual and provocative fashion. And she tells the Riverfront Times that this caused some issues. "I had a lot of people say to me, who would have reason to know, 'You will never be able to sell this because of the pronouns.'"


When she finally sold the book to Orbit, her agent came back to her with a list of suggested revisions — chief among them, changing the pronouns in the book. Says Leckie: "I was like, 'No, whatever happens, I'm not going to change that. That's a deal breaker.' I sent him this big, long e-mail, and he was like 'Oh. All right.'"

The whole profile of Leckie is well worth reading, and my favorite bit is the very end, when she talks about her hopes for the mold-breaking and unusual Ancillary Justice:

What I hope is that publishers and editors say, 'Well, Ancillary Justice did pretty well, maybe we can take a risk.' And what I really hope is that a bunch of writers look at my book and say, 'She didn't go far enough.'

Read the whole thing over at the Riverfront Times.

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This almost ruined the book for me. I try to consider myself pretty open to ideas but the constant use of "her" and "she" for all characters, genderless, female and male, made it difficult for me to picture the characters in my mind and associate with them. It is not exciting to read a book and questioning what gender someone is for a third of it, unable to create a picture of the person in my head.