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posted by on Wednesday March 29 2017, @04:26AM   Printer-friendly
from the book-review dept.

Alright - be warned - this is the lead book in a series. They want to sell you more books, LOL!

Science fiction? I don't think Lee's story is strictly SF. There is some resemblance to SF, and some to fantasy. Lee has written something different here.

There is no real attempt to explain, or to lean upon science. Lee has some almost magical force, largely based on numerology, or more accurately, the Calendar, which the characters manipulate in various ways. Space opera? Ehhh - maybe. There are only a limited number of characters that are truly developed. And, those characters don't get to meet each other very much, so it's not really opera.

I asked in the poll thread, whether this was likely to be a SJW's idea of science fiction. https://soylentnews.org/pollBooth.pl?qid=104&aid=-1 There is some of that, but it's not the purpose of the book to put across one of the currently favored SJW themes.

Mr. Lee is Chinese, and he seems to draw on Chinese mythology, legend, or maybe even history. Sadly, I'm not sure that I'm getting the full story, because I know so little of the Chinese culture. [Yoon Ha Lee is Korean.]

All the same, this has been a pretty action packed space adventure. The heroine is a military commander (captain of infantry) whose pastime is math. The math that enables and manipulates this mysterious force. As a military commander, her task is less to bring firepower to bear upon the enemy, as to keep her troops in formation. The formation is mathematically calculated to focus the force on the enemy, or to defend freindly troops. A "gun" may or may not fire a projectile, at all - and if it does fire a projectile, it is unlikely to be a solid, physical projectile. Call it magic - the gun merely focuses the magic that the commander intends to use.

Kel Cheris' math abilities help her to defeat an anemy in the opening chapter, which her colleagues have been unable to touch. This brings her to the attention of the high command, who has a far greater challenge to be met.

Enter the hero/madman/villian/anti-hero/traitor. Shuos Jedao can be described as a disembodied mind, kept as a pet of the Heptarch, and routinely trotted out of his "black cradle" to solve insoluble problems. Jedao will be "anchored" to Cheris mind, and body.

Cheris and Jedao are approved as the most likely solution to a rebellion on a Heptarch fortress that threatens the very existence of the Heptarch. The parameters defining "success" are pretty strict - the impregnable fortress must not be destroyed, if, in fact, they can gain entry.

There is plenty of intrique, with the Heptarch holding the end of a long leash, which Jedao must not escape. Cheris herself is also on a leash. But, the higher echelons don't understand the game that Jedao has been developing for the last four centuries.

This story is a wild ride, and just when you think you're nearing the end of the journey, you find that you have only just begun!


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 29 2017, @05:28AM (9 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 29 2017, @05:28AM (#485688)

    Not sure how thoroughly you checked but the author's name is clearly Korean, not Chinese. And although I have not checked what the book is about Ninefox is awfully similar to the well-known nine-tailed fox of Korean mythology.

    Not a very geeky review at all!

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday March 29 2017, @05:58AM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 29 2017, @05:58AM (#485699)

      And although I have not checked what the book is about Ninefox is awfully similar to the well-known nine-tailed fox of Korean mythology.

      The fox spirit (狐狸精) or nine-tailed fox (九尾狐) [wikipedia.org], having been originated from Chinese mythology, is a common motif in the mythology of East Asian countries.

      See also Kitsune [wikipedia.org] (Japan mythology) and Legend of Nine Tails Fox [wikipedia.org] (Chinese movie, 2016).

      Not sure how thoroughly you checked but the author's name is clearly Korean, not Chinese.

      Yoon Ha Lee [wikipedia.org] (born January 26, 1979 in Houston, Texas) is a Korean American science fiction and fantasy writer. When he was young, his family lived in both Texas and South Korea, where he attended high school at Seoul Foreign School, an English-language international school. He went to college at Cornell University, majoring in mathematics, and earned a master's degree in secondary mathematics education at Stanford University. He has worked as an analyst for an energy market intelligence company, done web design, and taught mathematics.[2]

      Not a very geeky review at all!

      This review and the bits of author's biography which I just quoted made me interested in buying/reading the book.
      Geeky or not, I'd say the review is successful, at least on my regard. Thanks for it!

    • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday March 29 2017, @01:50PM (3 children)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 29 2017, @01:50PM (#485885) Journal

      Alright - I blew it. Chinese and Korean are quite different. And, I actually read Lee's short bio. However - that 9-tailed fox has never had a place in my universe. As stated in the review, it's Asian, or Chinese, Japanese, as pointed out by c0lo. I'm happy that you know more about the foxes than I do, and you'll probably understand and enjoy the story better than I.

      --
      Death smiles at everyone. Sailors smile back.
      • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Wednesday March 29 2017, @02:38PM

        by hendrikboom (1125) on Wednesday March 29 2017, @02:38PM (#485913) Homepage

        I suspect that Tails, the two-tailed fox in the Sonic series of video games, is a lesser form of the nine-tailed fox.

        Foxes are traditionally messengers from the god or goddess (reports vary) Inari.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 29 2017, @05:03PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 29 2017, @05:03PM (#486018)

        A popular korean version: a fox lives for a thousand years, becomes a nine-tailed fox (kumiho). It takes up a form of super hot chick, lures a guy into the forest, and eats his heart out, literally ripping it out of the chest. Why? Probably was hungry.

        • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Wednesday March 29 2017, @07:03PM

          by hendrikboom (1125) on Wednesday March 29 2017, @07:03PM (#486100) Homepage

          The versions of the story I heard are that the fox takes human form, seduces a human male, and lives with him as wife for many years, bearing his children and so forth. But at one point the male discovers he has mated with an animal, is completely disgusted, and banishes her. The stories go on, but don't end happily for any of the characters. Back and forth with unrequited love and resentment.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 29 2017, @01:53PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 29 2017, @01:53PM (#485889)

      i stopped reading the wall when I saw SJW in the text.

      if the reviewer can't find something a little more intellectual to use to describe a certain type of people... it's like SJW is the term for everyone that isn't a hard right conservative here.

      the term, as an insult, works when its used properly. when thrown about without proper context it just drags things down.

      i dont even know 'sjw' science fiction even is. what is conversative science fiction, so that I can see how scifi is properly done? it isn't star trek if the cast and economy in that future is any indicator.

      non-SJW is probably bladerunner I am guessing; I almost suggested early william gibson, but there are too many non-whites as major characters.

       

      • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Wednesday March 29 2017, @02:53PM

        by tangomargarine (667) on Wednesday March 29 2017, @02:53PM (#485925)

        the term, as an insult, works when its used properly. when thrown about without proper context it just drags things down.

        Why do you assume it was intended as an insult in this context?

        --
        "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 29 2017, @02:59PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 29 2017, @02:59PM (#485930)

        If you are that easily offended, I would presume that you don't read much.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 29 2017, @02:56PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 29 2017, @02:56PM (#485928)

      Clearly.

  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday March 29 2017, @05:48AM (11 children)

    by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday March 29 2017, @05:48AM (#485696) Journal

    Mr. Lee is Chinese, and he seems to draw on Chinese mythology, legend, or maybe even history. Sadly, I'm not sure that I'm getting the full story, because I know so little of the Chinese culture.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoon_Ha_Lee [wikipedia.org]

    Should I edit this part of the review?

    --
    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by aristarchus on Wednesday March 29 2017, @06:46AM (6 children)

      by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 29 2017, @06:46AM (#485722) Journal

      I thought we had already established that no one should listen to Runaway1956 on legal matters. And now it appears that the same applies to literature as well. Why am I not surprised?

      Mr. Lee is Chinese, and he seems to draw on Chinese mythology, legend, or maybe even history. Sadly, I'm not sure that I'm getting the full story, because I know so little of the Chinese culture.

      We could just amend this to "Runaway does not know much about culture." Includes his own, as well as all those vaguely "Asian" cultures which are all the "same", except for the Muslins, who are made of flax and cotton, in order to canvas the universe in denim. Outside of egregious American ignorant bigot errors, not a bad review. Three starts. But, oh dear, he said "SJW". Two starts.

      --
      #freearistarchus!!!
      • (Score: 3, Funny) by takyon on Wednesday March 29 2017, @06:54AM (4 children)

        by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday March 29 2017, @06:54AM (#485728) Journal

        Feel free to submit your own book review.

        --
        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
        • (Score: 1, Troll) by aristarchus on Wednesday March 29 2017, @07:38AM (3 children)

          by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 29 2017, @07:38AM (#485746) Journal

          I can't! I only read SJW Science Fiction, and apparently this is not the right audience. Sad puppies are sad because they cannot write. And as for takyon . . . so what is your problem with aristarchus, takyon? Is it the satire? Is it the hubris? Is it the irony? Or the conceited "holier than thou" attitude? You should just out with it, so I can adjust. I would hate to be on the wrong side of an ed!

          --
          #freearistarchus!!!
          • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday March 29 2017, @07:57AM (2 children)

            by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday March 29 2017, @07:57AM (#485753) Journal

            This is the very first review on this nexus. Why not add to the pile?

            --
            [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
            • (Score: 3, Touché) by c0lo on Wednesday March 29 2017, @10:31AM (1 child)

              by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 29 2017, @10:31AM (#485804)

              This is the very first review on this nexus. Why not add to the pile?

              He can't! He only reads SJW Science Fiction, and apparently this is not the right audience.

              (grin)

              • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday March 29 2017, @12:57PM

                by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 29 2017, @12:57PM (#485851)

                Its worth pointing out there are other Nebula noms and something like Everfair is of somewhat uncertain definition (I'm only 95% certain what it is) and regardless of what it is, its a topic that's very fertile ground for parody if I'm right or might be a good story if I'm wrong, so it almost seems zero risk?

                But first I will read Ninefox, then Ubik, then in my infinite spare time I'll see about Everfair.

                A problem with new releases is they're new and we're not getting kickbacks from the publisher to say they're all 9/10 like you get in the mainstream press so whats the point? Given that, it might be fun to review something we've all actually read. (probably all...). How about the Dune series or the Legacy of the Aldentata / Posleeen war series or something semi-obscure like Frankowski's works?

                Another amusement would be something like a book club. Assuming "Clojure Standard Library" publishes this summer, I could review it on Sept 1st if I remember. I have early access and at this rate maybe more like Dec 1st. Anyway plenty of time to actually read the book.

      • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Thursday March 30 2017, @01:37AM

        by DeathMonkey (1380) on Thursday March 30 2017, @01:37AM (#486290) Journal

        First of all, he's Korean, not Chinese.

        Second of all he's American, not Korean.

        And third of all, he's Texan not American!

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 29 2017, @09:38AM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 29 2017, @09:38AM (#485789)

      Thanks for the edit, but "Korean-American" or just "American" (Texan?) would be more accurate.

      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday March 29 2017, @10:50AM (2 children)

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 29 2017, @10:50AM (#485809)

        Thanks for the edit, but "Korean-American" or just "American" (Texan?) would be more accurate.

        And everybody knows it crucially important to stay accurate, relevance** be dam'd. Otherwise, the nerddom will become extinct and we can't have that, can we?

        ** It's allegedly more important that he's Texan than his mathematical major and the fact he worked for an energy market intelligence company (algos and game theory supposedly being appropriate tools for assessing markets).
        And this is because making "machine-gun bacon Ted Cruz style" really frees the creative juices better than anything else, is that what you are sayin'?
        If not, then... what exactly is your point?

        • (Score: 3, Informative) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday March 29 2017, @05:58PM (1 child)

          by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday March 29 2017, @05:58PM (#486045) Journal

          If not, then... what exactly is your point?

          That we should only post things that are factually accurate to the front page.

          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday March 29 2017, @06:31PM

            by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 29 2017, @06:31PM (#486071)

            If not, then... what exactly is your point?

            That we should only post things that are factually accurate to the front page.

            If you read the review, the now-crossed-over inaccurate phrase doesn't bring any relevance to it.
            I think Herbert Frank came with the "ghafla" term for such constructs – GHAFLA: giving oneself up to gadfly distractions.
            As in:

            That, too, went according to plan. Divide and weaken. Alia could sense the subtle change in the way the two Freman watched those off-planet women and their exotic dance. Let them watch. Let them fill their minds with ghafla.

            And I don't see how going deeper into ghafla mode (like in "He might be Texan actually") helps me or any SN dwellers.

  • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday March 29 2017, @12:39PM (11 children)

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 29 2017, @12:39PM (#485841)

    I'm kinda annoyed that there's a lot of sniping at Korean this vs Chinese that about the theme when for a variety of geopolitical reasons there's not much difference between Chinese, Korean, and Japanese culture. You can complain all you want about how bad the bad old days were but the fact of the matter is the bad old days HAPPENED so large swathes of Korean culture are Chinese culture or are Japanese culture. So that's where nine foxes come from, apparently, whatever.

    I'd like to talk about the other half. Apparently the author is officially not American (well, according to us, I wonder what the author thinks about themselves) but is Hyphenated-American and from the American culture side I'm curious how much resonance there is between the famous (probably?) Honor Harrington character and the Kel Cheris character.

    I've read some Honor Harrington series, the first book is pretty good, very Space Opera. I mean everyone into SF probably knows Honor Harrington, right? Shes sort of a Tasha Yar like character except instead of dying in the first season she gets command of a ship and gets into some interesting space opera style battles. Her later books in my opinion are more boring as she rises higher that starship commander. But whatever.

    I do have a copy of this book in audiobook format waiting on me probably over easter holidays, so I'll find out for myself the hard way, but I do kinda wonder if the similarity ends at "they both military women" or if she's essentially a photocopy of Harrington or if there's some shoutouts ... Please let her not have a pet that perches on her shoulder like a parrot and lives in a cage in her quarters.

    • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Wednesday March 29 2017, @02:49PM (4 children)

      by tangomargarine (667) on Wednesday March 29 2017, @02:49PM (#485920)

      "they both military women"

      Is there supposed to be some significance to when you drop into grammatically-incorrect mode? You kept going on about "we was kings" in the other article.

      Or is this one of those tongue-in-cheek things that if you explain it it'll start a big fight and downmods :P

      --
      "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday March 29 2017, @04:06PM (3 children)

        by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 29 2017, @04:06PM (#485980)

        Type at 100+ wpm, blink the wrong way, $#& dropped an apostrophe. If you read glyphically entire words at a time then proofreading nonsense like relics relating to strange non-fiction unironically described randomness slips right thru, although a major missspelin would be instantly caught because thats a malformed glyph. Even worse they both military women is not only spelled correctly by is conceptually correct in that both imaginary characters were captains. You know who else was a fictional female sci fi captain? Janeway. I wonder how Janeway fits in WRT Kel Cheris.

        The "we was kings" is not my invention that's a self described by a racial revisionist history group. They have some impressive although incredibly unrealistic alternative facts relating to African pre historic civilization. There are some fascinating youtube videos. In the other discussion about an alt-hist sci fi novel there are people who more or less unironically believe in it to one level or another as non-fiction. Ancient Egyptians were black and built the pyramids. Africans invented philosophy and writing and horses and pretty much everything but the whites stole it and there has been a multi-millennial multi-cultural coverup in place to make sure black folks don't get credit because, um, we'll skip the because part... Also Africans discovered America before Columbus because there's evidence of maps of the new world in African relics none of which unfortunately are present in museums or scientific study. Pottery in Scotland was occasionally made with black pigment drawings of people therefore ancient Scots were black skinned aka Africans, ditto Greeks and Chinese and Romans and Japanese (Africans were also the first Ninjas, and I'm not making this up). Its strange, kinda interesting stuff.

        I remember reading an interview or biography of Tolkien where he more or less admitted the Germans and Nords had cooler mythological supernatural prehistory and origin story, so he kinda made one for England out of what dumpy fairy tales the English had. Beowulf is cool let me write an even better fanfic and set it in England, kinda. "We was kings" is kinda the same thing in Africa without the self awareness that its mythological fiction. Sorta their Atlantis mythos. It mostly comes from people in America not Africa which makes it weirder yet.

        • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Wednesday March 29 2017, @04:21PM (1 child)

          by tangomargarine (667) on Wednesday March 29 2017, @04:21PM (#485997)

          "we was steampunk kings"

          "we wuz kangs"

          because we was steampunk kings.

          I wasn't questioning the idea of the African steampunk thing, I was questioning why you kept purposely writing it grammatically wrong. It comes off as as some sort of backhanded Ebonics "haha, black people can't talk properly."

          --
          "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
          • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday March 29 2017, @04:49PM

            by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 29 2017, @04:49PM (#486010)

            I looked it up and the technical term for it, which is useless to search for, is "Pan-African Black Afrocentric Egyptian Hypothesis". Or something like that.

            Its a cultural appropriation to steal lines out of their youtube videos but much like "white men can't dance" its more straightforward to appropriate their own phrase than to try and express it in another vernacular.

            Umm... most of the people commenting on the Pan-African Black Afrocentric Egyptian Hypothesis on the internet are making fun of it and their people, something like "the old negro space program" as seen on youtube is probably the most polite mocking you'll see probably because it splits its time between making fun of Ken Burns and his SWPL fans while also making fun of "Pan-African Black Afrocentric Egyptian Hypothesis" if it were logically extended into an alternative history of the 50s/60s space race. And that being the most polite and respectful video I can think of, while also not being safe for work, you might find other commentary on that academic topic somewhat toxic. There is a two video series by people in the "Pan-African Black Afrocentric Egyptian Hypothesis" movement, I can't remember the name, something with "colors" in it, that's not supposed to be a comedy yet is somehow more comedic than the space program video.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 29 2017, @11:10PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 29 2017, @11:10PM (#486238)

          Maybe you shouldn't type so fast.

          But that does explain your stream of consciousness style.

          Typing at 100+ wpm is fine for copying something from dead tree format.

    • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday March 29 2017, @03:15PM

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 29 2017, @03:15PM (#485939) Journal

      I wasn't struck by any strong similarity between Honor and Cheris. Yeah, they're both military females. Their characters come from different backgrounds, their history is different, Cheris is primarily infantry, where Honor is fleet. I'd have to re-read some of the Honor books to refresh my memory, but they really don't look very similar to me. Possibly a shoutout or two, but if so, they aren't very blatant.

      It's also possible that I didn't make the bonding thing clear enough. Prior to Jedao being anchored in her mind, she was merely a somewhat exceptional infantry officer, a company commander. I don't want to give to much away, but Cheris' accomplishments after meeting Jedao can't be claimed as "her" accomplishments, or as Jedao's - they have become a team. If one falls, the other falls, if one triumphs, the other triumphs. In this universe, one may learn to dominate the other, but they are almost literally inseparable.

      IMO, Cheris promises to become a - uhhh - more complex? character than Honor Harrington. Or not. We'll see where the next book takes us.

      --
      Death smiles at everyone. Sailors smile back.
    • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday March 29 2017, @05:56PM (1 child)

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday March 29 2017, @05:56PM (#486043) Journal

      there's not much difference between Chinese, Korean, and Japanese culture.

      How about compared to Houston, TX, where the author was born? You know, the type of fact someone writing a review might be bothered to look up.

      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday March 29 2017, @07:16PM

        by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 29 2017, @07:16PM (#486108)

        With the further irony that in theory its a sci fi novel about space. With all due respect to the Koreans and Houstonians I have no interest in nerdy Koreans or nerdy Houstonians in space, I want to read an imaginative somewhat hard sci fi story that makes me think about something other than sources of delicious BBQ.

        Its almost like fate is daring me to write a hard sci fi novel about delicious BBQ in space. I'm not liquored up right now but this is the kind of challenge that does fire me up. Might be seeing me in the nebulas next year or two, never know. Maybe a bottle of liquor and some take out Korean BBQ could get me to write the first chapter.

        Just think how you could rotate the meat as is cooks without any contact in space. Might be some tenderness advantage to drop the air pressure so if boils in its own juices concentrating flavor. Could I sear with ultraviolet light enabling lower cooking temps for more tenderness? Semi-seriously, has anyone in the real BBQ business ever fooled around with air pressure and UV impingement? I could also BBQ during solar flares to rely on proton flux to sterilize the meat. Hmm.

        I could franchise the marketing rights out to the usual suspects in the BBQ industry. I could turn it right around and cross market a sauce of my own. Soylent flavored of course. Made of people, for people. Jones soda uses submitted pix on their labels... I'm thinking /pol/ memes on my labels, I mean what could possibly go wrong? Spicey!

    • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Wednesday March 29 2017, @07:44PM (2 children)

      by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 29 2017, @07:44PM (#486131) Journal

      for a variety of geopolitical reasons there's not much difference between Chinese, Korean, and Japanese culture.

      You know, that is strange, because there is not much difference between Greek, Roman, French, German, British, and American culture. And Star Wars. Something about the Hero with a Thousand Faces. VLM, your shallow generalities about history and culture are almost as amusing as your suggestion for concentration camps for immigrants!

      --
      #freearistarchus!!!
      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday March 29 2017, @09:54PM (1 child)

        by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 29 2017, @09:54PM (#486211)

        your shallow generalities

        Now wait a minute, see I'm the only guy in the conversation that hasn't read the book yet, are you implying it some super deep dive into the heart of Korean culture? Where's there's no point in reading unless I already know all about fan death and eye shopping and watch taekyeon on TV every night? Like don't read this book unless you got a hanbok in your closet? I work with a Korea-bro so I know all about that stuff. Or at least I believe the stories he tells, some of which are probably BS. Vending machines full of beer in Seoul. Sure whatever. Its not all fun and games, he microwaved something using fish sauce he smuggled from home and pretty much evac'd the building. At the time that was not funny. Years later its epic, sure. But not funny at the time.

        Cause I had the impression the book was pretty shallow WRT to being Korean and more of a sci fi book. There's a difference between star trek with some Korean BBQ for flavor vs some kind of graduate level history of Korea textbook. I donno anything about intersectional third wave feminism in Korea and if I have to know that much to enjoy the book I'm not really gonna bother with the book, life's too short.

        concentration camps for immigrants

        Illegal ones only. And only until safely and legally deported using the normal channels. The hard core folks want to use a trebuchet over Trumps Wall. Which is a little off topic from... what were we talking about? Oh yeah you weren't contributing anything interesting, that was it.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 29 2017, @11:07PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 29 2017, @11:07PM (#486237)

          Last time I needed fish sauce I bought it at the local supermarket....

          In flyover country....

  • (Score: 2) by darnkitten on Tuesday April 18 2017, @11:38PM

    by darnkitten (1912) on Tuesday April 18 2017, @11:38PM (#496067)

    I started this during the Nebula thread, but never posted it:

    Ninefox Gambit, the Nebula-nominated debut novel by by Yoon Ha Lee, is the first volume of a military space opera set in a universe where Asian-style astrology is actual, practical science. In other words, a person's astrological sign and that of any organization he belongs to actually influences the way he thinks, and his beliefs, attitudes and behaviors.

    The government of the series, the Heptarchate, in a time long past, mathematically designed a zodiac/calendar specifically around population loyalty and control, complete with festivals and bloody sacrifices, and subjected everyone within their territories to it. The symbolism of the calendrical elements can be used to power magical weapons of mass destruction, called "exotic effects," which can be used within any area subject to the calendar.

    Unfortunately, at some point more recent, there was a faction fight within the Heptarchate, and the victors erased the part of the zodiac representing the defeated faction. This erasure unbalanced the calendar, and though the underlying mathematics have been adjusted to account for it, this instability allows rebel groups to form and to design and implement their own versions of the Calendar. The government, now styled the Hexarchate, must re-establish control in a rebel territory before its heretical zodiac takes effect, permanently alters the populations and stops their superweapons from working.

    Enter Cheris. She comes from a recently subjugated territory, and, though personally, she should have been governed by a creative, mathematical sign, the Ninefox, she nonetheless enlisted in the Kel (infantry), which is governed by a more traditional, straightforward and disciplined Ashhawk. When her unorthodox use of tactics, on the edge of what is allowed to the Kel under Doctrine, places her under a cloud, Kel Cheris is offered a chance to escape disgrace: she must command a force tasked with taking a rebel stronghold, with her mind bound to the brilliant mind of a long-dead general-turned-mass-murderer, the Ninefox-governed Shuos Jedao, balancing the probable deaths of her former comrades in straightforward battle against the very real possibility that allowing Jedao to guide her to victory will also allow his mind to subsume her own.

    I found the conceit of the book intriguing, putting me in mind of Richard Garfinkle's Celestial Matters, (which used Ptolemaic philosophy as the basic "science" of its world). The idea that beliefs and culture might have an influence on the physical and social sciences of a group and its territories is common to both, as is a clash between rival groups with different philosophies and mutually incompatible sciences.

    Where Celestial Matters, however, uses exploration of the "weird sciences" as the basis for world and story, Ninefox Gambit, uses it more to give an feel of otherness to the technology and culture of an otherwise fairly standard MilScifi novel. The epistolary glimpses of the rebel leaders, with their debate on the symbolism of farm animals and complaints about the new calendar changing the quality of daylight, gives some background as to the power of the calendars, but, for the most part, feels like window dressing. The Kel military culture was well-thought out, with a good feel for hierarchy, loyalty, ritual and tradition, especially when balanced against the gamesmanship of the Shuos faction (I assume the other factions will be covered in future books). The addition of the "exotic effects" to the battle scenes added a touch of weirdness and horror to what felt otherwise like late twentieth-century warfare.

    The heart of the story--the internal conflict between Cheris and Jedao--while well-written, with intriguing elements of betrayal and personal sacrifice, feels like a set-up for the coming "real story" by the end of the novel. The pair do not form any lasting outside attachments during the story, rather becoming increasingly removed from any past and present connections, and character development takes place more in flashback than in forward movement.

    All in all, while an enjoyable read, I get the feeling that Ninefox Gambit will be better read as part of a longer narrative, and I am looking forward to the release of Raven Stratagem in mid-June.

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