This is one of those rare sci-fi books that has both the bizarre concept that gets you thinking about identity and humanity, and a set of characters you care about to bring it alive. Worth reading by just about anyone.
The rough overview is…impossible. It’s too preposterous in an amazing way. It’s some sort of murder mystery, but it’s hard to call things murder when life and death are this bizarre. Along the way there’s the most amazing idea for prison that’s ever been, truly unique ideas on external memory (I love how these beings have developed a ‘privacy sense’, like we have touch), and what I guess is a hot lesbian relationship between a combat angel and a spaceship.
All of this keeps from being overwhelming via an amnesia mechanic, helping us take in the world bit by bit. It turns out that this is completely, 100% appropriate, though. The whole book is playing with memory and how it relates to identity, so it feels natural instead of a forced mechanic to slow down the world for the outside reader.
If I had to criticize it, the pacing can be weird. It does the typical sci-fi thing of hopping between the points of view of different characters, but it’s somehow disjointed in a way that Stross or Stephenson somehow smooth over. But it would only come up if I were looking for it, and I sure as heck wasn’t until I was writing this. It’s great.