From the author of the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning novel Ancillary Justice, a cosy space opera set in the same universe about a young woman who, seeking the approval of her foster mother, takes a desperate gamble and finds herself in the middle of an interplanetary conspiracy.
It is difficult for me to write this review without simply gushing READ THIS NOW. (But seriously: read this now) ... every bit as good as her previous work and very different in theme, tone, and approach ... Part coming-of-age story, part murder mystery, part political thriller, and part exploration of questions of memory, meaning, and cultural identity as represented by physical relics of the past, Provenance is an extraordinarily good book. Tightly paced and brilliantly characterised—as one might expect from Leckie—with engaging prose and a deeply interesting set of complicated intersecting cultures, it is a book that I loved, and one that I expect to read again.
Something about Ann Leckie’s space operas remind me of cozy mysteries. Not because I don’t consider her books serious science fiction—the Imperial Radch trilogy contains a more complete considerations of the moral obligations we owe artificial lifeforms (not to mention our fellow humans) than anything I’ve read in the last decade. But the way she deploys the tropes of space opera—ship-to-ship conflicts, alien races, intelligent machines—are quite different ... There are big ideas about politics, gender, and prisoners’ rights. There are surprising plot twists and tense action sequences. There is a colorful cast of hilarious supporting characters and, oh, a murder ... The book transitions from murder mystery, to political thriller, to action adventure without faltering, and without ever taking us away from Ingray’s point of view. There’s a great deal of fascinating worldbuilding surrounding our hapless protagonist and an interesting consideration of gender roles ... You might call it cozy space opera. but if you think that’s reductive, I have another suggestion: these are books with the trappings of widescreen sci-fi, and the attention to character, to the small moments, to the inner lives of those living through outsized events you typically find elsewhere in the bookstore. So call it literary space opera. Call it what you want. Just read it.
...lacks the Ancillary punch but lays out a gently convincing case for the cozy space mystery ... Provenance lacks some of the depth that made that series so engrossing...Still, Provenance provides a careful look at how no one's immune from politics, even if they think themselves outside the fray ... This is a story about the necessity of exploring the edges of the known, which makes Provenance a fitting addition to the Ancillary world, and suggests an expanded universe with many such stories yet to be told.