Winner of the Hugo, Nebula, British Science Fiction, Locus and Arthur C. Clarke Awards.
On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.
Once, she was the Justice of Toren - a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.
Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.
In the Ancillary world: 1. Ancillary Justice2. Ancillary Sword3. Ancillary Mercy
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Ann Leckie set the bar high for speculative fiction with her Hugo-winning debut, Ancillary Justice. The first installment in her Imperial Radch trilogy is a bold exploration of artificial consciousness in a militaristic, totalitarian state—and a rollicking space opera to boot. In the Radchaai empire, the elite class can travel through space by transferring their consciousness into a hive mind of bodies. When the realm’s unstable ruler threatens to destroy all of humanity, the only thing that can stop him is a sharp AI that’s been reduced to dwelling in the body of the lone survivor of a destroyed starship. Filled with cinematic world-building, nonstop adventure, and the kind of big social ideas that annoy reactionary factions of the science fiction scene, Ancillary Justice has the same energy and ambition that drove classic sci-fi epics like Frank Herbert’s Dune and Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End.
An ill-fated encounter has forced Breq, the AI commanding the Radchaai troop carrier Justice of Toren, to take up residence in a single commandeered human body, impressive but mortal and no more powerful than any other person. Now this sorry wanderer searches the galaxy for a legendary weapon that may be able to do the impossible: grant Breq revenge on Anaander Mianaai, the many-bodied, immortal ruler of the brutal Radch. A double-threaded narrative proves seductive, drawing the reader into the na ve but determined protagonist's efforts to transform an unjust universe. Leckie uses familiar set pieces an expansionist galaxy-spanning empire, a protagonist on a single-minded quest for justice to transcend space-opera conventions in innovative ways. This impressive debut succeeds in making Breq a protagonist readers will invest in, and establishes Leckie as a talent to watch closely.
Wonderful Book with a few Quirks
This is an engaging story about a troop carrying ship turned into one of its controlled soldiers out to answer questions and get revenge. The concept and imagination in the main character are sound and the unusual post-human setting is bizarre and far away somewhat reminiscent of the Culture. I did enjoy reading this story.
My one complaint is the insistence in using ‘she’ as an ungendered pronoun when a suitable pronoun could be taken from an existing language, or made up, or use the ubiquitous ‘it’. This gets more confusing when the characters start speaking in gendered language then switch back to ungendered. I understand it is used to flesh out the setting with a more feminine culture, but a lot of unnecessary confusion was added in the attempt.
Big Bold Space Opera!
It’s easy to see why this book won the 2014 Nebula and Hugo awards, it’s amazing in many ways. It’s Ms. Leckie’s first novel, and the first book in her Imperial Radch Series. It’s a big bold opening to a different universe.
First, let’s look at the Radch. They have built a interstellar empire by conquest, turning conquered planets into new citizens. When doing this they absorb their cultures and religions while imposing their own. They have mainly concerned themselves with other human civilizations, but there are at least two off-screen alien civilizations.
To support this military might, there are large AI controlled starships such as the Justice of Toren which is a troop-carrier with vast numbers of Ancillaries, which others refer to as corpse-soldiers. Each of these mind wiped, augmented, and repurposed human bodies is an extension of the ship. The ancillaries form a sort of a hive-mind with the ships AI, and should be little more than tools to be used and thrown away. However, when the Justice of Toren is lost through treachery, only a single ancillary that calls itself Breq remains.
This Ancillary seeks revenge for the loss of its crew, and all the other parts of itself. It once was a mind that far exceeded human ability, now it is just one mind in one body. But it has its mission, and that drives it over years and light years…
Ms. Leckie has started a major space opera, and it has a vast scope. From its minor rituals to its major underpinnings, it looks like it can be a great setting for more adventure.
Reviewing after 3 years…
3 years ago I read Ancillary Justice for the first time as part of a binge of Hugo novels. I’ve read many books since then, but I keep coming back to this one.
I find that this is the only book that messes with gender as a major detail that really, really *gets* it. I think this aspect of the story will hit the hardest for readers that already believe biological sex and gender are truly disconnected. Gender isn’t treated weirdly in this book just to be weird, and it certainly isn’t meant to be some sort of “ironic reversal” of today’s gender politics. It strikes me as an honest imagining of how gender might change in tens of thousands of years.
I find it amusing to read the reviews here that complain the gender conventions in Ancillary Justice are somehow “nonsensical” or “arbitrary” or “unrealistic.” Do they not see that our real-life gender conventions would be just as arbitrary and “illogical” to an outsider?