The first book in Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch Trilogy, Ancillary Justice, is the only novel to have ever won the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, and the Arthur C. Clark Award. And for good reason–Ancillary Justice kicks off a trilogy full of complex characters, political and military intrigue, and technology that may not be as far off as we’d like to think.
In Leckie’s world, spaceships and space stations are controlled by artificial intelligence cores as sentient as any human. The Radch Empire is ruled by Anaander Mianaai, a human with thousands of bodies linked by cybernetic implants, now fractured into multiple personalities.
The trilogy’s main character, Breq, used to be a troop carrier called “Justice of Toren”, a spaceship with thousands of bodies and one consciousness. When Justice of Toren is destroyed, Breq is the only surviving body. Having lost everything, she sets out to seek revenge. In the process, she gets caught up in Anaander Mianaai’s battle with herself and is forced to make an uneasy alliance.
The crisis deepens as the series moves along, and the incredibly powerful and not-well-understood alien species the Presger become involved. Breq has to deal with local politics and everyday injustices on Athoek Station as well as empire- and galaxy-wide conflicts that threaten the safety of all humankind.
The Imperial Radch trilogy is well executed hard science fiction that explores the ethics and biomechanics of AI, and, as with all good sci-fi, reflects back on the world we live in today. Sci-fans of all stripes will find much to love in this bracing series.