Book Review: Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (Three Stars)


Book Review: Ninefox Gambit (The Machineries of Empire #1) by Yoon Ha Lee

Three Stars

“Her instructor was full of shit. There was no comfort to be extracted from the dead, from flesh evaporated from bones.”

Slow start. Dumps you right into this universe with little preparation and less explanation. Apparently not a translation, but awkward reading at times as you figure out calendarials, sentient servitors, and exotics amid not-quite-American syntax. A space opera with all the tech, jargon, language and blood that implies.

“Immortality was like sex: it made idiots of otherwise rational people.”

What is the meaning of suicide and mass murder–or even immortality–in a culture which does not value life? From context you discover that the actors are not human, even though the anatomy, physiology, and psychology seem similar.

“A mediocre plan implemented quickly was better than an excellent plan two hours too late.”

After a big build up the climax felt rushed.

“Time happens to everyone.”

Lots of correct, and occasionally funny, vignettes of military life. How generals treat insignificant people (even equipment) is noticed and emulated by subordinates, even when they don’t understand why.

“Everyone had thought he was a good commander until he stopped being a good human being.”

Originally gave extra credit for this his debut novel, but on reflection realized it wasn’t that good. Will probably skip the next installment. Mediocre cover art.

“People are people no matter how you reorganize your social structure.”

Nine Fox Gambit is a finalist for the 2017 Hugo awards, for which I am a voter. In the coming weeks I’ll read and review the nominated novels, novellas, novelettes and short stories. Before I vote, I’ll share my ranking in each category.

“War is about taking the future away from people.”