Ancillary Justice
By Ann Leckie
Orbit, 2013

Ancillary Justice is a science fiction novel set in the far future; it might reasonably be described as a space opera. It is the first in the Imperial Radch trilogy.

Justice of Toren is a warship -- but not just a warship. She is the ship and all of its solders, a compound mind that splits her awareness between dozens of bodies. Most of our knowledge of Justice of Toren comes from the first persons perspective of her ground troops. They are on easy duty, occupying a small city on a recently annexed planet, overseeing matters while the planet gets used to its new leadership, economy, and religion.

It quickly becomes apparent to the reader that Justice of Toren is a good and kind persons, at least for a weapon of war, and that others around her are not so nice. In fact it isn't long before Justice of Toren becomes aware of -- and directly involved in -- some very confusing political intrigue which may well lead to her deaths.

This is a very brief and broad summary of the basic setting and plot, because I don't want to give any spoilers, including spoiling the author's portrayal of a unique type of person with my much more clumsy description. This is a very well-written novel, and the ship's rather alien viewpoint is interesting and often amusing. Likewise, human culture is quite different from what it was thousands of years ago when they left Earth, and exploring their new social structures is just as interesting as exploring the ship's. However, don't be fooled into thinking that this is going to be a slow story -- while the Radchaai society does move at a stately pace, angry warships manage to keep things interesting.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction, but it may be particularly interesting to those who enjoy far-future and military-based science fiction. I should also mention that a lot of other people recommend this book -- in particular, it has won a Hugo Award for Best Novel, a Nebula Award for Best Novel, the Arthur C. Clarke Award for best science fiction novel of the year, the British Science Fiction Association BSFA Award for Best Novel, the Locus Award for Best First Novel, and the Kitschies Golden Tentacle for best debut novel.

The Imperial Radch trilogy continues with Ancillary Sword.

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