I’m copying over some reviews of titles I’d written up in 2018 and earlier, just in case these titles are new for other people.
I had to make it more than halfway through the next book in my pile of books to-be-read before I felt like really analyzing Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. It was a lot to process in a reasonably small novel.
The story follows a protagonist that is the final remaining aspect of a massive ship-based militaristic AI, confined to a human shell. While the ship was still “alive” and operational, these human shells with minds replaced by the AI were known as ancillaries, essentially tools of the ship to use in place of soldiers and other functionaries. The author handles the character with a consistency that is admirable as the story jumps back and forth in time to build up the back story while unveiling the main narrative as it progresses toward an intense climax.
At heart it’s a story about revenge and an exploration of consciousness (human and AI alike)…but there is much more to it than just those two superficial elements. Redemption, colonialism, human nature, and war are all placed under the lens while the non-human protagonist pursues her/its objective. We, as readers, get introduced to a massive (gender-neutral, in which everyone is referred to by feminine pronouns) empire spanning numerous star systems, led by a tyrannical individual who has cloned herself into numerous ancillaries as well, to become a distributed consciousness spread across the galaxy…but within whom there is a fracture, and the leader is working against herself in subtle and not so subtle ways to undermine the opposing side. Just typing that was confusing, and it says a great deal about the quality of the author that it isn’t disorienting within the book.
I have to read the rest of the series to know for sure, but based on this first novel of the trilogy, Leckie has certainly cemented herself as being one of the most original and talented minds recently working within the science fiction genre.