cover image Ninefox Gambit

Ninefox Gambit

Yoon Ha Lee. Solaris, $9.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-84997-992-4

Lee's imagination isn't matched by his execution in this awkward debut, which kicks off a hard science fiction trilogy. Capt. Kel Cheris has survived a bloody campaign against the heretic Eels on the outpost world of Dredge, only to be drafted by her superiors to scour the "calendrical rot" centered at the Fortress of Scattered Needles. This phenomenon threatens the entire hexarchate society, which is dependent on calendrical stability (an intriguing concept that unfortunately remains opaque to the reader). Cheris offers a novel solution to the problem: she'll enlist the assistance of the undead General Shuos Jedao, whose persona will become part of her. Any momentum this plot line generates is diffused by chapters in the form of communiqu%C3%A9s within the target fortress that skirt dangerously close to parody (one dates itself as "Year of the Fatted Cow, Month of the Chicken, Day of the Rooster"). Many readers will struggle to absorb the contours of this universe by osmosis, which is the only option Lee presents. (June)