I just finished it yesterday, and here are a few of the thorny, interesting, complex, and just-damn-cool ideas it plays with:
- Consciousness shared among hundreds of bodies and even space ships
- "Ancillaries" - bodies re-purposed as beings that an AI can control
- Galactic empires spanning thousands of years--and characters that, as AIs, are immortal and recall all of those years
- All-powerful alien weaponry that can destroy basically anything
- A consciousness split among hundreds of bodies that eventually separates and tries to sabotage itself, with one half at war with the other
- A massive galactic empire that has no gendered words in its language--and a first-person narrator from that empire who keeps the reader at seas as to characters' genders.
Now, of course, this is more a "me problem" than an "author problem," given the praise the book has received and the number of readers that flat-out adored it. I just wasn't one of them. If you suspect you might be one of those who would like it, be aware that the sequel, Ancillary Sword, just came out.