Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Review: Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Ninefox Gambit is amazing. I love the characters, in all their scheming glory. I love the immersive world building, the no-hand-holding style of dropping the reader into a truly alien setting where the very rules of reality are altered by changes to the calendar. I love the smooth prose, the little moments that give characters life, the awkward exchanges, the unusual hobbies, the triumphs and the sudden plunge into cold water of reversed fortunes. I love the density of themes: shared belief, loyalty, games, hobbies, mathematics. Yes, I loved the math. And I say this as someone who has always hated math.

Most of all, I love that nothing is a mere gimmick. The techno-magic system is original, fleshed out, and interesting. You rarely see that. There's a lot of pulp out there that manages one of the three, and good stuff that manages two, but nailing all three is rare. And this approach to deep, fresh ideas flows through every aspect of the book. Every little detail is weird and wonderful, and the implications of every detail are thoroughly explored. Nothing is window dressing here. Nothing is a gimmick.

This is essential reading for anyone who likes military sf. And I mean essential. It's an entirely new take on the genre, and you simply can't say you understand that genre if you haven't read it. In fact, if you haven't read it, I don't even want to be around you. Apart from how one-sided our conversation will be, as I gush on and on about this book while you stand mute, I'm a little worried that your unenlightened presence might destabilize the space around you. So read it.

Yours in Calendrical Heresy,

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