RogerBW's Blog

She Commands Me And I Obey, Ann Leckie 20 September 2023

2014 SF short story, set in the same universe as the Imperial Radch series. Her-Breath-Contains-The-Universe is is a junior monk in a monastery (on a space station) that also trains players for something like the Mesoamerican ballgame, which has political significance too…

To explain the plot would be to undo part of the fun, which is in working out what's going on, while surrounded by a human culture that's both profoundly alien and recognisable as human, with human drives being expressed through different channels. (I like this style of SF where solving the puzzle is part of enjoying the story, though I can see if could be offputting if one were expecting to drop quickly into the universe.)

There isn't room for subtle characterisation, but the feel of what's going on comes over superbly well. Recommended both in isolation and if you're an Imperial Radch completist.

"I will give you advice. Be aware of your surroundings. If you are ambitious, be also silent. Or you may find yourself a genuine saint at the bottom of the monastery fishpond."

Originally published in Strange Horizons and now available via the Internet Archive.

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  1. Posted by Chris Suslowicz at 11:19pm on 20 September 2023

    It is, as you say, great fun - especially when the penny drops.

    I still reread it occasionally and it never fails to delight. (At some point I must get around to starting Translation State.)

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 08:52am on 21 September 2023

    A review of that is in the stack.

  3. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 05:12pm on 21 September 2023

    I read it, I don't really get it. Lacks depth of characterization or sensory info, and the 'problem' just falls flat for me.

    Loved Translation State, enjoyed Provenance, but this short story is pretty opaque for what very little the payoff.

    So, if either Chris or Roger wish to enlighten me as to what I'm missing, please go ahead. I won't be offended to be educated.

  4. Posted by Chris Suslowicz at 04:42pm on 22 September 2023

    Who is White Lily's captain? This is part of her backstory. :-)>


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