Monday, June 26, 2017

Ninefox Gambit (The Machineries of Empire #1), by Yoon Ha Lee

book cover Finally, a fresh, unapologetically sci-fi story with so many interesting ideas and cultural innovation that I can barely wait for the second book in the series to come out.

Yoon Ha Lee creates this far into the future universe in which everything from social structure to space travel and military technology is run by rigid doctrine that uses a particular calendar. Certain battle formations, using certain weapons, doing specific things leads to "exotic effects", carefully manipulated through higher mathematics, that power society and military expansion. Of course, there are multiple possible calendaristical configurations, but they interfere with each other, so after choosing one, any deviation is considered heretical. Add to this an Asian view of hierarchy and politics and you get the most delicious book I've read in a long, long time.

Ninefox Gambit is, unfortunately, merely the beginning of the story. While one could consider the entire thing a standalone book that leaves the rest of the story to the imagination of the reader, the rich universe that it creates makes followups inevitable. In this case, I can barely wait for them. There isn't much else to say about the book other than urge you to read it. As with any good writing, the plot is simple, but the individual scenes give its flavor. It is an almost unspoilable story, since it doesn't rely much on twists, but on bringing value in every chapter, through rich characterization and original scenecraft.