Monday, May 15, 2017

Hugo Reviews: Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Ninefox Gambit is a space opera with swashy buckles but the main plot concerns a May-December non-romantic friendship between a long-dead bad boy and a lesbian starship captain. While there’s no [wrinkles nose with distaste] telepathy, his digitized self lives in her brain, always ready for a conversation, always happy to lend a tactical suggestion. That’s why I’m not voting this book at the top of my list. Daydreaming about having some dude implanted in my brain so he can offer live commentary 24/7 is not one of my escapism priorities. This one is currently trailing Too Like The Lightning, another story about an assertive rule-breaking badboy, on my personal scoreboard.

I did like the characters, and watching them ponder the concept of how much friendly fire you can generate before crossing the evil line. Plus there’s an experience involved in reading a foreign novel where the idiom is slightly shifted, and the pool-of-assumed-knowledge morphs, which can give everything an exciting alien feel. The story isn’t easy to follow, but fortunately for me, I got over the whole notion of following stories years ago.

The space battles take place in a culture that is very interested in classifying people, much like Too Like The Lightning with its endless castes. In this story people (who apparently spend their entire lives in space, with machines) are fond of animal totems and they have zodiac signs for the month and day. I’ve noticed the trend toward classification in YA for a while now, in books like the Divergent series, and initially I blamed it on Harry Potter and his sorting hat, but now I’m seeing a lot of it happening with adult fiction too. 

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