Machineries of Empire (book series)

  • Gist: Highly innovative space opera/military science fiction trilogy, despite the uninspired series title.
  • Author: Yoon Ha Lee, himself the epitome of a person in liminal spaces–raised in both Korea and America, a trans man who identifies as queer, has a husband and a daughter and, craziest of all, lives in Louisiana.
  • Characters: A definite strength! Details are spoilers, but a cast of complex, conflicted, likable people.
  • Questions raised: Which and how many people should be sacrificed for the good of the whole? Is there anything you wouldn’t do to gain love and welcome? What’s the acceptable price tag of social change? Should I learn math?
  • Tech: Far-future setting allows a blend of familiar tech with magic-like “exotic” effects that, surprisingly, end up integral to the plot and coherent within the fiction.
  • One caveat: The first book throws so much weird exotic tech at you it can be disorienting, but all that clears up and falls into place in the second book.
  • Books: Titles that are much better than the series! Ninefox Gambit, Raven Stratagem, and Revenant Gun. All published by Solaris in 2016, 2017, and 2018, respectively. To me, each was better than the one before it.

Conclusion: Read them if you like subtle science fiction, culture/identity tension, and lots of dark humor.

ninefox gambit_image


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