Authors in Orbit: Ann Leckie introduces her novel, Provenance


My name is Ann Leckie, and I am
the author of Provenance. The first science fiction I was exposed to that I remember was actually 2001: A Space Odyssey. At the time, my biological parents
were going through a divorce, and the adult who was in charge of me for that weekend, 2001 was showing at a local theater. That was at the time when you couldn’t just
rent a movie or anything, right. You had to, like, be at the theater to see it
or you wouldn’t see it, and they really wanted to see it, so they took four-year-old me down to the theater to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey. I can tell you that left quite an impression on me. That’s the first science fiction that I remember being exposed to, but there may have been others. Authors who inspired me: Andre Norton is
actually a big one, and I supsect a lot of, a lot of authors have been. I don’t know if she’s read as much as she used to be, but she wrote a lot of what at the time was called juvenile science fiction and was super,
super influential, I think – has had an influence on way more writers than, I think, many people realize. Another author who’s had a huge influence on me is C. J. Cherryh, particularly her Foreigner books, which I absolutely adore, and Jack Vance, who’s another name who, very famous author, fabulous author, worth reading, even though he’s maybe a little
old-fashioned by today’s standards, but absolutely beautiful, beautiful prose. I definitely wanted to be a writer when I was a kid. Part of that is because, for some reason, for whatever reason, my parents were convinced that I was going to be a writer when I grew up, and so they gave me lots of advice and information about how to conduct myself as a professional writer and what I should do, and so I guess I just grew up with people around me assuming that that was what I was going to do, and it seemed like it would be pretty cool. Every now and then, especially in my teens, I would feel kind of inadequate because I didn’t actually write very much, and in college my writing just sort of
shut down completely, except for school, and I thought, well, I guess everybody was wrong; I’m not really going to be a writer, but in the end, they turned out to be right. It would be really difficult for me to choose a favorite character to write. They’re all – Breq, obviously, is wonderful to write, which is super fortunate because, of course, the entire trilogy is from her point of view, so I would be out of luck if I
didn’t like writing her, but she’s a lot of fun to write. In the trilogy, though, coming in second would be the Presger translators, who I had so much fun writing. In particular, the Translator Dlique – I know a lot of people say Dleek, but I say Dleek-ay, but however you say it is fine – she was so much fun, and she was on stage for such a short period of time, and I couldn’t manage to make her be on stage longer, so when the third book came around I promised myself that Translator Zeiat would get as much screen time as I could give her, because the Presger translators were just so fun to write. I’m not sure any of the characters
are particularly like me. I think they all probably have something of me in them, because you can’t, you can’t write a character who you totally don’t understand, and so some of that understanding
is going to come from yourself, but there aren’t any characters in the book who I strongly identify with, or who I’m like, that’s me on the page. When I wrote Ancillary Justice, I threw in as many space opera tropes
as I possibly could, but one that I tried to get in there
but really didn’t that’s a favorite of mine is the
ancient alien artifact, right? I really wanted to do something with archaeological digs and alien ruins, and in the end, there isn’t actually
a whole lot of that in Provenance, but that base pull, it sort of steps off
from that idea, and that was still super compelling to me, and I wanted to work through my thoughts
about that.

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