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Ninefox Gambit Paperback – June 14, 2016
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“Beautiful, brutal and full of the kind of off-hand inventiveness that the best SF trades in, Ninefox Gambit is an effortlessly accomplished SF novel. Yoon Ha Lee has arrived in spectacular fashion.” (Alastair Reynolds)
"A dizzying composite of military space opera andsheer poetry. Every word, name and concept in Lee's unique world is imbued witha sense of wonder." (Hannu Rajaniemi)
“I love Yoon's work! Ninefox Gambit is solidly and satisfyingly full of battles and political intrigue, in a beautifully built far-future that manages to be human and alien at the same time. It should be a treat for readers already familiar with Yoon's excellent short fiction, and an extra treat for readers finding Yoon's work for the first time.” (Ann Leckie)
“StarshipTroopers meets Apocalypse Now – and they’ve put Kurtz in charge...Mind-blistering military space opera, but with a density of ideas andstrangeness that recalls the works of Hannu Rajaniemi, even Cordwainer Smith.An unmissable debut.” (Stephen Baxter)
"Astriking space opera by a bright new talent." (Elizabeth Bear)
“Forsixteen years Yoon Ha Lee has been the shadow general of science fiction, thecalculating tactician behind victory after victory. Now he launches his greatmanoeuvre. Origami elegant, fox-sly, defiantly and ferociously new,this book will burn your brain. Axiomatically brilliant. Heretically good.” (Seth Dickinson)
"Ahigh-octane ride through an endlessly inventive world, where calendars areweapons of war and dead soldiers can assist the living. Bold, fearlesslyinnovative and just a bit brutal, this is a book that deserves to be on everyawards list." (Aliette de Bodard)
“Daring,original and compulsive. As if Cordwainer Smith had written a Warhammer novel.” (Gareth L. Powell)
A tight-woven, complicated but not convoluted, breathtakingly original space opera. (New York Times)
About the Author
Yoon Ha Lee is a writer and mathematician from Houston, Texas, whose work has appeared in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed and The Magazine Of Fantasy and Science Fiction. He has published over forty short stories, and his critically acclaimed collection Conservation of Shadows was released in 2013. He lives in Louisiana with his family and an extremely lazy cat, and has not yet been eaten by gators.
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Top Customer Reviews
But the weird weapons are mostly chrome--thought experiments from the writer's toy box, which isn't to say they aren't entertaining since all the deaths and mutilations they cause don't seem particularly real. The affecting deaths generally involve ordinary weapons.
Similarly, the worldbuilding's surface complexity is an impressive pyrotechnic display that will turn off many readers who bother to try to understand it and hoodwink many others who think they do. Underneath it all is a sound character-driven story that focuses on the protagonist, Cheris, and her developing symbiotic/synergistic relationship with a disembodied hero/traitor general, Jedao, kept in storage for military emergencies. Teacher and student, a consciousness ruthlessly determined to survive to accomplish a goal and a young officer with mad math skills. Most readers will sympathize with the goal (not achieved in this book, which is the first of a series that I hope isn't too long because I'm not getting any younger).
Despite the sheer quantity of deaths and sacrifices and murders, I liked Ninefox Gambit mainly because I found it to be unexpectedly funny. It has a great deal of biting satire, wittiness, and situational humor. It put me in mind of Richard Condon (Manchurian Candidate, Prizzi's Honor) as well as the worlds (but not the plots) of Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World.
And don't forget the sentient zooform robots (servitors).
Inside this fairly complicated world we follow Cheris as she is singled out to lead a strike group on a rebellion. She ends up tied to another General for the duration of this operation. His input is necessary even if he’s a special kind of undead. Cheris herself, while a solider, is a mathematical genius so her strengths work well with General Jedao. That being said Jedao is a dangerous man who has done some pretty… foul things in his past.
The book, while seeming to focus at first on the nuances of the world like the science and politics eventually swings into the characters themselves and how they interact with these things. It takes more of a look at their relationship as well. It was incredibly fun to try and follow Jedao and Cheris. It’s never clear to the reader till the very end if he’s a madman, a genius, or just the luckiest person in the world. That was incredibly smart. I found the world interesting and the politics just as interesting but the book really hooked me with that change to characters.
I had a blast with this, even if it took me about 60 or 70 pages to understand what I was dealing with in the world. It’s a mix of science and fantasy that makes for a wildly unique world. In the end some of the reveals you get about Jedao are amazing and some things I never actually saw coming, so well done! I do wish we’d seen more of the characters the book opens with and while I did figure out the system in the book just a little bit more information would have been fantastic. However with this being the first in the trilogy I’m sure we’ll see more of both the characters and the how-to of the world.
I almost forgot but guys - the servitors are probably my favorite tiny factor of this book. I want those to be so important in the story. So important. I feel like they really personify the story in a weird way at the end. So good.
Just a note : I’d also like to say there is a character with a learning disorder in this book that I myself have so seeing that in someone in what I read tickled me! I had been reading the story actually thinking ‘I’d never make it in this world unless I just got really good at espionage or shooting things’. The importance to the story was just so neatly handled. Bravo!