Highlights from Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

When you shoot a person, you say why and do it, without excuse. This is how the Radchaai are.

She was old enough to know firsthand that we had, indeed, shot people in the past. She could hardly be blamed for fearing we might do so in the future.

There had been a time when a property owner like her would have been shot early on, so someone’s client could take over her plantation.

And within the gravity well of the planet Shis’urna itself—or for that matter any planet—lay the Underworld, the land of the dead from which humanity had had to escape in order to become fully free of its demonic influence.

And you don’t like my saying that, but here’s the truth: luxury always comes at someone else’s expense. One of the many advantages of civilization is that one doesn’t generally have to see that, if one doesn’t wish. You’re free to enjoy its benefits without troubling your conscience.”

Human bodies to make into ancillaries weren’t exactly a scarce resource.

Among the wealthy, clientage was a very hierarchical relationship—a patron promised certain sorts of assistance to her client, both financial and social, and a client provided support and services to her patron. These were promises that could last generations. In the oldest, most prestigious houses the servants were nearly all the descendants of clients, for instance, and many businesses owned by wealthy houses were staffed by client branches of lower ones.

“Only criminals, or people who aren’t functioning well, are reeducated. Nobody really cares what you think, as long as you do what you’re supposed to.”

Others took longer to leave, testing my authority, perhaps, though not far—anyone with the stomach to do such a thing had been shot sometime in the last five years, or at least had learned to restrain such a near-suicidal impulse.

You see murder and destruction on an unimaginable scale, but they see the spread of civilization, of Justice and Propriety, of Benefit for the universe. The death and destruction, these are unavoidable by-products of this one, supreme good.

To noncitizens, who only ever see Radchaai in melodramatic entertainments, who know nothing of the Radch besides ancillaries and annexations and what they think of as brainwashing, such an order might be appalling, but hardly surprising. But the idea of shooting citizens was, in fact, extremely shocking and upsetting. What, after all, was the point of civilization if not the well-being of citizens? And these people were citizens now.

Justice, propriety, and benefit, isn’t it? Let every act be just, and proper, and beneficial.

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