Ancillary Justice

By Ann Leckie,

Book cover of Ancillary Justice

Book description

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,…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked Ancillary Justice as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

A friend gave me this when I was almost done writing my book.

I couldn’t figure out how to justify footnoting a science fiction novel written from the point of view of a one-thousand-year-old spaceship in my own book, which was mostly about theories of musical evolution, but I still wish I had. The spaceship-protagonist can’t tell genders apart and refers to every single character as “she,” and it loves (I mean loves) to sing.

The book tackles surprisingly relevant questions about the way power, gender, and difference circulate through a post-colonial society. It’s completely different from the kind…

Ancillary Justice struck me because it accomplished on a larger scale what I’d struggled to do in one of my own books. The protagonist is a ship AI whose consciousness exists in hundreds or thousands of bodies simultaneously across as many locations. Leckie not only managed to convey this without breaking my single-threaded human mind, she also created a compelling story of individual struggle, discovery, and growth, while gently building around it a living galaxy of politics and conflict. One of the most unique and engaging science fiction stories I’ve read.

I really resonate with Breq, the protagonist of Ancillary Justice. Even though she's a fragment of an AI in a human body, Breq is more passionate about fairness and justice than the human characters. She's a truly singular protagonist. Breq's unique and insightful view of the Radch empire makes this book one of the best debut science fiction novels I've ever read. The worldbuilding is impressive here, too, showing the dark underbelly of a monolithic civilization as it, like many imperialist expansions have on Earth, absorbs and destroys local cultures.

Even though I’m not much of a tea drinker, I wanted to become one as I read this book (and its two sequels, Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy). The attention to detail in both the preparation and consumption of the tea in these books—and what those actions say about the characters who perform them—is fascinating and revealing. As more of a coffee fiend myself, it makes me want to pay such careful attention to coffee in a book of my own…hmm…

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