by Ann Leckie
New York: Orbit, 2013. 409 pp. Science Fiction
While I don't read a great deal of science fiction, I feel I can confidently say this is one of the most marvelous examples of this genre available. The world the author constructs is fascinating, full of wonderful details while still tantalizing the reader by addressing certain aspects obliquely. I loved how the author's use of language nicely conveyed the ambiguity of gender identification and only hinting here and there the ethnic and racial aspects of the characters. The central character, Breq, is just brilliant. She had been an artificial intelligence that ran the starship (indeed, was the starship) Justice of Toren as well as controlling an army of cybernetic troops called ancillaries. Imagine HAL combined with a regiment of borg. As a result of a mystery surrounding a massacre on a recently conquered world, she is reduced to the existence of a single ancillary body. Twenty years later, she stumbles across the unconscious body of an officer that served on Justice of Toren a thousand years previously. Together they seek out the reasons for Breq's fall and for vengeance.
This is the first of a trilogy, continued in Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy.