With the publication of a special 10th anniversary hardback edition in Jan 2024 I thought I should review the of the record-breaking masterpiece that won the Hugo, Nebula and Arthur C. Clarke Awards 10 Years ago.
Ancillary Justice is a highly engaging piece of speculative fiction that plays with language and gender politics and follows Breq an AI Hive Mind warship now downloaded and trapped in a the body of a soldier with only partial knowledge of how she got there. The unraveling of her quest for revenge results in an original tale, handling questions around personal identity in a world of artificial intelligence.
Ancillary Justice is the first book in The Imperial Radch trilogy. Robotic AI characters (as well as being subject du jour) are a wonderful opportunity in spec fiction to highlight the intrinsic values of being human via the juxtaposition of a superior other.
Here are two of my all time favorites.
A Psalm For The Wild Build - Solarpunk Monk Robot Series by Becky Chambers
Murderbot Diaries Series- by Martha Wells
The colossal warship called The Justice of Toren has been destroyed - but one ship-possessed soldier has escaped the devastation. Used to controlling thousands of hands, thousands of mouths, The Justice now has only two hands, and one mouth with which to tell her tale.
The Radch are conquerors to be feared - resist and they'll turn you into a 'corpse soldier' - one of an army of dead prisoners animated by a warship's AI mind. Whole planets are conquered by their own people.
But one fragile, human body might just be enough to take revenge against those who destroyed her.
'ENGAGING AND PROVOCATIVE'
'UNEXPECTED, COMPELLING AND VERY COOL'
Independent on Sunday
'THRILLING, MOVING AND AWE-INSPIRING'
'UTTER PERFECTION, 10/10'
The Book Smugglers
'ASTOUNDINGLY ASSURED AND GRACEFUL'
'ESTABLISHES LECKIE AS AN HEIR TO BANKS'