Ancillary Justice

Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice is a large, complex space opera with a brilliant take on identity and gender. All characters are described as "she," though several of them are expressly male, as the language of the far-future Radchaai does not distinguish between genders. Leckie builds a vibrant and colorful universe, inhabited by diverse human cultures and populations; nothing less of a setting would match the masterfully told plot that spans thousands of years, with an engagingly conflicted--and somewhat alien--character at its core.

One Esk, part of the sentient spaceship Justice of Toren, has a problem. As Breq, a foreign traveler on a secret mission, she has to avoid detection while facing overwhelming odds. The only surviving ancillary body of the ship mind, One Esk must somehow function as an individual, yet is unable to trust even the Radchaai emperor who may not have the citizens' best interests at heart. One Esk's only remaining task is one of vengeance, and perhaps even she is unaware of the reasons for it. And why, in the midst of all this, she chooses to help a minor captain from her earlier life is as confusing to her as her apparent need to sing all the time.

Leckie's debut novel introduces a fresh voice to "hard" science fiction, one that will continue with the next two planned novels in this series. --Rob LeFebvre, freelance writer and editor

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