Hexarchate Stories

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 02 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

Arc received in exchange for an honest review.

Check out my youtube review for my complete thoughts, tl'dr i'll say this is an absolute MUST READ for fans of the trilogy. I wasn't expecting this but the final story--a novella length sequence set 2 years after the end of Revenant Gun--actually raised my general feelings about that book. There is a lot to chew through in "Glass Cannon" which i know couldn't exist as a part of Revenant Gun, is also excruciatingly necessary for it to feel like a satisfactory end to this series.

For fans of the original trilogy.
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This collection was amazing, though I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who hasn’t already experienced the wonder of the Machineries of Empire trilogy. Without the background of the previous three books, a lot of the short stories in this collection may be confusing, and definitely would not be enjoyed to their fullest. Glass Cannon in particular follows on from Revenant Gun in such a way that I actually ended up reading it straight afterwards to remind myself of the events of the book (review to come), and only ended up half convincing myself to re-read the first two books as well. 

There is a fascinating variety of short stories included in this book, from delicate open-ended poetry (How the Andan Court) to action packed adventure-comedy (Extracurricular Activities); flash fiction that gives glimpses into some of the Machineries of Empire trilogy’s best characters (Hunting Trip) to entirely unexpected, but well-written erotica (Gloves). Gamer’s End even dips in to second person, and shows once and for all that Yoon Ha Lee is an incredible author, with pretty much boundless range. The author’s notes after each story are one of the highlights of the book, mentioning the inspiration for certain habits, characters or scenes; and providing fascinating insights into Yoon Ha Lee’s personality and past. 

The constant among the stories in this collection is the impeccable world building, gripping character development and diverse cultures and characters that fans of Yoon Ha Lee have come to expect. Almost every significant character from the Machineries of Empire trilogy has a moment to shine, with Jedao’s past being explored in the most detail. Cheris is not ignored, however, nor are various servitors and side characters from the series1, even Mikodez’s green onion gets a mention. 

Glass Cannon deserves its own mini review, because it is essentially the follow up to the Machineries of Empire trilogy, and it has made me incredibly sad that there probably won’t be any further novels, especially because the plot lines and complications introduced in Glass Cannon could easily become at least one more book. I want more! 

The plot is fast paced and interesting, with Jedao and Cheris’s viewpoints alternating throughout the novella. Some questions Revenant Gun left open are answered, other answers are implied or hinted at, and a lot of complications that I hadn’t considered are brought up. Cheris, Jedao and several other characters I’m not going to name to avoid spoilers interact in fascinating new ways, and we get to see Mikodez out of his depth for once. There are moments of levity, some fascinating, unique situations surrounding responsibility and morality, and one of the most classic science fiction questions of all: what makes us human? 

I was very glad when one of the (many) injustices left in place at the end of Revenant Gun causing people to hate Jedao (himself included) is cleared up a little in this book. He and Cheris don’t become friends, I think that would be too much to ask, but by the end of Glass Cannon, they seem to understand each other a little better. Glass Cannon is a satisfying, entertaining read, with plenty of angst, humour and action. In all, a great conclusion to the Machineries of Empire trilogy, I’m just sad that it has to end. 

I cannot recommend this book highly enough; Yoon Ha Lee is the author that made me give science fiction (LINK TO PROBLEM) a chance. Anyone who loves science fiction will definitely find plenty to enjoy in Hexarchate Stories, but I also believe that anyone who enjoys great characterisation and ethical dilemmas in the vein of Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series will also find plenty to enjoy. Anyone who enjoyed the military drama of RF Kuang’s Poppy War should consider reading this series. People who enjoy the political intrigue and personal anguish of Michelle Sagara’s Chronicles of Elantra series, those who loved the unique magic systems and morally grey world of Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders or Farseer novels and basically anyone with enough patience to immerse themselves in a nuanced and incredible world filled with fascinating characters should read this book, just make sure you read the Machineries of Empire trilogy first.
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Yoon Ha Lee’s Hexarchate Stories is a collection of short stories set in the universe of Lee’s Machineries of Empire series, and, more specifically, mostly revolving around the life of everyone’s favourite mad general, Shuos Jedao. And it’s just now hitting me that the series is really, truly over.

Hexarchate Stories is exactly what I wanted it to be: not a single lens on the universe but many—as many eyes to see through as the Shuos ninefox. The stories in the collection range from standalone shorts with plots to single pages’-worth slices of life. While I enjoyed the shorter tableaux, the fully-formed stories kept me turning the pages. (Novelette ‘Extracurricular Activities’ is a stand-out, previously published in 2017 at Tor.com, and finally telling us the tale of Jedao’s first inventive use of variable co-efficient lubricant.)

The collection ends with the novella ‘Glass Cannon’. It’s a story that reunites Cheris and the young Jedao of Revenant Gun following the events of the trilogy, and it is very much cast from the the same mould: full of ruthless fighting, body horror, and emotional introspection. Plus, in ‘Glass Cannon’, Lee takes the opportunity to explore more of the resurrected Jedao’s physical nature, which is something I’d wanted to know more about while reading Revenant Gun.

‘Glass Cannon’ makes the collection unmissable for a fan of the series. Without it, not only are Cheris and Jedao’s stories incomplete, but so is the story of the hexarchate in general. The implications it throws up—and yet only extrapolating from the events of Revenant Gun—are immense.

Each story in this collections is followed by an author’s note from Lee, exploring the circumstances around the writing of the story and other thoughts. These are the real gems in this collection, in my opinion—they elevate the collection from merely extra hexarchate content to a series of glimpses into the author’s process. Yoon Ha Lee’s notes are charming and easy to read, so are a pleasure to spend time with.

If there’s anything I wasn’t fond of while reading Hexarchate Stories, it’s possibly that Lee lets his characters spool out their inner thoughts a bit too freely, most noticeably during ‘Glass Cannon’. A hallmark of the Machineries of Empire series has been the rich interiority of all its perspective characters—but in this book I found myself getting irritated with Jedao’s running commentary on every nuance of every situation. (I know, I know—he’s Jedao, noticing things and snarkily commenting on them is his deal. Still.)

If you’re a fan of the Machineries of Empire series, you need to read this collection. Whether you prefer traditionally fanfic-like snippets of extra content or big space opera stories, you’ll find what you’re looking for in here. What’s more, you’ll miss Lee’s characters. No matter who your favourite was, you’re going to want more. And more? Is here.
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Hexarchate Stories by Yoon Ha Lee is a collection of short stories set in the same world as the Machineries of Empire series (Ninefox Gambit, Raven Stratagem and Revenant Gun). Although not all the stories require familiarity with the main series, I generally recommend having read the series before picking up Hexarchate Stories since some of the flash pieces and especially the concluding novella work better with knowledge of the characters and series events. (Though many of the stories absolutely stand alone.)

The essential short story collection set in the universe of Ninefox Gambit.

An ex-Kel art thief has to save the world from a galaxy-shattering prototype weapon...

A general outnumbered eight-to-one must outsmart his opponent...

A renegade returns from seclusion to bury an old comrade...

From the incredible imagination of Hugo- and Arthur C. Clarke-nominated author Yoon Ha Lee comes a collection of stories set in the world of the best-selling Ninefox Gambit. Showcasing Lee’s extraordinary imagination, this collection takes you to the very beginnings of the hexarchate’s history and reveals new never-before-seen stories.

I really enjoyed this collection. Even given the slightly unusual way in which I read it; skipping over stories I had previously read meant I skipped some award worthy reads. (The reviews for those stories, by the way, are copied from my original reviews of them in italics below.) I was particularly taken with the three longer stories that were new to me: "The Chameleon's Gloves", "Gamer's End" and "Glass Cannon". The first two are meaty stories more about life in the universe than about the specific characters that featured in the series (although Jedao does appear in "Gamer's End"). "Glass Cannon" is a novella that takes place after the trilogy and, as such, is pretty spoiler-heavy for the events at the end of Raven Stratagem. Mostly because "Glass Cannon" dominates this collection in terms of page-count, my usual summing up is after the story mini-reviews (and after a spoiler shield).

“The Chameleon’s Gloves” — A fascinating story about a Kel outcast set before even the Heptarchate came into existence. And if that sentence made no sense, it’s a story about a thief given a job no one should have ever had to sign up for.

“How the Andan Court” — Flash/prose poem that I’ve read before: A flash piece that is more of a love letter explaining the absence of roses.

“Seven Views of the Liozh Entrance Exam” — Longer flash musing on Liozh examinations, told from a relative future perspective, after the faction had fallen.

“Omens” — A short story about a couple’s date, dripping with significance if you’re paying attention and have read the Hexarchate books.

“Honesty” — A short story about very young Jedao and his even younger sister.

“Bunny” — Another young Jedao and sister, this time dealing with a missing cat. A cute story.

“Black Squirrels” — A hilarious story of a Shuos academy prank.

“Silence” — A family interlude told from the point of view of Jedao’s older brother Rodao. A straightforwardly enjoyable read.

“Extracurricular Activities” — previously read: Set in the same universe as Ninefox Gambit and Raven Stratagem, this story follows Jedao while he is still young. He goes on an undercover mission to extract a friend from academy. I really enjoyed this story. It was funny with serious moments. A good read for both readers of the novels and new comers to the world.

“Gloves” — Pretty much smut, with a bit of character exploration thrown in. I can’t imagine the framing details working very well for someone who hadn’t read the series.

“Hunting Trip” — A vignette featuring Jedao and a general stopping at a zoo en route to a hunting trip.

“The Battle of Candle Arc” — already read: Shuos Jedao leads a Kel army to victory against heretics. I had some memory of this particular battle being mentioned in the novels (Ninefox Gambit and Raven Stratagem), but misremembered the context. In any case, an interesting read, even more so since it was published years before the novels. Clearly the authors has been living in this world for a long time. Also, the explanations of the factions and calendar were done particularly well, especially given how complicated they can get. This story is a good introduction to the world.

“Calendrical Rot” — Things get weird. Apparently this was almost the prologue to Ninefox Gambit, so it’s interesting to me that it works as a short story.

“Birthdays” — Young Cheris and her family move out of their ghetto and have to give up some of their traditions. A nicely told flash story.

“The Robot’s Math Lessons” — previously read: An adorable flash story about a robot making friends with a little girl (who I think is Cheris from Ninefox Gambit). — And yes, it was Cheris. This story is referenced in "Glass Cannon".

“Sword-Shopping” — Cheris and her girlfriend go to buy a sword. A cute flash piece.

“Persimmons” — A cute flash story about a servitor arrived at Kel Academy from a small village. Who doesn’t like sentient robot stories?

“Irriz the Assassin-Cat” — A cute flash featuring a cat soothing a child.

“Vacation” — Different characters take a trip to the zoo in this flash piece.

“Gamer’s End” — A second person short story about an advanced trainee sitting a test under Jedao. It’s one of the longer stories in this collection and is not so much filling in past anecdotes as telling a self-contained story set in the same world. And the second person narration adds some interesting flavour.

“Glass Cannon” — This is a novella (well and truly; it takes up the entire second half of Hexarchate Stories) set after Revenant Gun. It contains a lot of spoilers for the end of the Machineries of Empire series and I definitely don’t recommend reading it without having read the series. Not only will it be confusing, but it will also spoil some of the surprises and enjoyment of the series. In fact, a proper review of it is spoileriffic, so I will restrict it to my full review of Hexarchate Stories.

Full review with massive spoilers for Revenant Gun/Machineries of Empire. Do not hover over/highlight  the spoiler-shield below if you don't want to be spoiled.
“Glass Cannon” was an excellent read. Taking place after the end of Revenant Gun, it follows Moth!Jedao after he escapes imprisonment by the Shuos. His one desire in life is to get his memories back from Cheris and gain some sort of closure regarding the gaps in his memory, many of them from his youth. Cheri’s, meanwhile, is living a normal life in a settlement of her own ethnic group (much depleted after the events of the main series). She is just starting to get bored with a normal life teaching maths when that life gets disrupted by the escaped Jedao and the soldiers on his tale. Despite the inconvenience to her life, she agrees to transfer Original!Jedao’s memories to Moth!Jedao, since they have been haunting her. And so they set out on a quest to retrieve a device necessary for the transfer, and run into various troubles along the way.

Aside from being a really enjoyable story, “Glass Cannon” also manages to address some of the aspects of the world building that did not fit into the main series. Certain revelations from Revenant Gun — let’s say those loosely related to servitors and their factions and the human (non)regard of them — is raised here. So as well as following our beloved characters, we get to follow a little bit more progress in the Hexarchate, admittedly, not quite to completion, since that would be a much longer story.

I definitely recommend reading “Glass Cannon” as a sequel to the series if you enjoyed Machineries of Empire. I think Hexarchate Stories is worth buying for this novella alone, but the other included stories were also worth reading (but if you have already read the longer short stories/novelettes, the flash fiction may not feel weighty enough to bother buying the book for, but “Glass Cannon” certainly is).

This was a great collection, even if it was a little unbalanced in story lengths, and I definitely recommend it to fans of Yoon Ha Lee's books. While some of the stories are good entry points to the series, the majority of the flash stories work better if thought of adding something to the universe, rather than full stories in their own rights. For the prospective reader who wants to read Hexarchate Stories but not the trilogy (but why?), I see no reason why the first half of this collection can't be enjoyed, but I repeat my caution about "Glass Cannon" being full of spoilers and probably confusing without the trilogy context. On the other hand, if Lee plans to revisit the Hexarchate/Heptarchate universe again, sign me up for reading more stories/books set in that world.

5 / 5 stars

First published: June 2019, Solaris
Series: Machineries of Empire, stories set in the world of
Format read: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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I’ve been a huge fan of Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire series since it came out (and its also a Subjective Kind of Chaos nominee for Best Series!). It’s a complex tale of a cruel and also yet strangely liberal empire comprising sic different factions ranging from the loyal soldier army of the Kel to the super scheming Shuos. The trilogy explored themes of empire, rebellion and how people made the choices to choose a side. The main trilogy was very much focused on the notorious Shuos Jedao a general who went mad, died but then got resurrected as a mind AI ultimately working with a young Kel Captain named Cheris to eventually create a form of revolution with many personal costs for both.  However due to Jedao’s long afterlife it’s a sequence that has a long backstory of hundreds of years containing many rich elements galaxy-building to explore so I’m delighted to have now this collection of stories set before, during and after the events of the main trilogy. Its not all political space opera as we get a fantastic mix of heists, slice of life tales of love and families oh and cats.

Among the stories that I really enjoyed:

The Chameleon’s Gloves – a really strong opening tale that stands alone from the main series. It starts with an art theft but soon dives into a race to find a super-weapon. Really fast, inventive use of a heist and then throws a little moral dilemma into the equation.  I found this very enjoyable and yet still tells the reader about the worldview and ruthlessness of the Hexarchate rulers.

Seven Views of the Liozh Entrance Exam – the Liozh were the only faction that fell from grace.  An unusual tale of their entrance exams which while reads as a short history text it also hints as to why this group were eliminated which also shows you the way the empire thinks too.

Omens – This focuses on Jedao’s mother who pretty much liked to defy convention (a trait her son seemed to inherit). She’s funny, confident and secure in her sexuality on a date. There are major events happening, but a great piece of character writing done in a few scenes – impressive writing.

Honesty – This show focuses on a really young Jedao and his siblings Nidana and Ro all at a very young age. We get her view of her brother and we just start to see the potential for the future warrior he will become seeing him enjoying fighting some bullies; with a reminder that his future betrayal will have immense repercussions for his family and loved ones.  Feels very bittersweet as we see a strong simple and innocent relationship yet we know what’s around the corner.

Bunny – Jedao and Nidana hunt Bunny the cat (again as youngsters) funnily enough there is also Bunny the Dog. Again, a slice of life tail but perhaps reminding you there is a heart in Jedao…sometimes.

Silence - a first person tale in Ro’s voice. This time the siblings are much older and visiting their mother at home. A disgusting fruit salad is being made and there is a lot of family teasing.  Its a really impressive balance of showing a loving family against Jedao’s amoral approach to weapons and also starting to hint that his life in the military is starting to impact him mentally with regular injuries as well as seeing the cruelty of the hexarchate leading to ever more reckless choices. Again, showing you how he may end up becoming the later notorious general. One of the best tales int he collection.

Extracurricular Activities – Another great story here. An older Jedao who is now starting to get a fleet wide reputation for cunning and ruthlessness is recruited for a mission to rescue an old classmate. There is an interesting look at betrayal and again we see how Jedao’s mind works but you also definitely get to see his Shuos side shine too in cunning hand to hand combat mixed with the sense of honour towards his enemies (provided he thinks they are worthy).  It also contains excessive flirting with a shipmate that perhaps reminds you under the reputation Jedao can be amazingly human.

The Battle of Candle Arc – Here we meet a Jedao recovering from another of his many serious injuries. This time he’s been placed on a mission against heretics; we see him up against a distrusting first in command who is aware of his notorious ability to sacrifice those working for him to aid the greater good. This definitely points towards what leads him to his ultimate betrayal of the empire but also, we get to see that unique cunning balanced with a sense of honour again – trying to work out what makes Jedao tick is part of the fun in this collection.

Birthdays – This is a tale that features Cheris (the other main protagonist in the main trilogy). It’s a short tale of how her Mwennin people have had to stop celebrating their culture as its is increasingly deemed heretical which could lead to lethal repercussions. Knowing the ultimate faith these people will all suffer makes this tale feel extremely tragic but also as the author reminds us how cultural traditions often get wiped out by other cultures e.g. the Korean birthday system is now being slowly replaced with a more western one.

Gamer’s End – This is a tale set after the main trilogy ends. A young Shuos recruit goes on a training mission and then things go horribly wrong resulting in their need to fight for their life (as well as the rest of the planet). This tale is really interesting to see how the Hexarchate is now developing after the events within the main series but we also see the weird Shuos blend of cunning, cruelty, and ruthlessness. Yet a very familiar character appears who now knows we cannot go down the same road again in creating monsters to fight later.  Strong favourite in the collection

Glass Cannon – This final tale is a major novella giving us a huge insight into what happened next to Jedao and Cheris. I’m not going to spoil it because if you love this series you will want to go in unspoiled but it is very creative; answers a lot of questions; sets up a lot of new possibilities and oh goodness do I want to see what else happens next.  Yes, it’s my favourite tale and its brilliant

Overall as you’ll see my admiration for Yoon Ha Lee’s tales is undiminished. I really liked the short author’s note for each story and hearing what inspired each tale. The shorter length means this is more character focused adding depth and texture to the main sequence. Love the flash fiction pieces because seeing characters just living in normal situations and how they react in them is fascinating. If you’ve enjoyed the previous novels, you’ll want to delve again into this universe.
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You want this book

Yoon Ha Lee calls several of these stories "gimmick flash" stories. Gimmick flash stories are short and revolve around some specific idea (the gimmick). Mr. Lee explains that he makes money (or at least he used to) by writing them on demand for paying clients. Cool.

All the stories here fit directly into the Hexarchate universe but they occur at different times. Most are about Jadeo.

I liked some of them very much, and enjoyed the rest. For followers of Yoon Ha Lee, this collection is a must have.
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Review copy provided by publisher. Also I have known the author since Officially Forever, On Here.

I have rarely read a book with such a clearly defined audience! This is for people who love Yoon's debut trilogy (the Machineries of Empire trilogy, the one with Jedao in it) and have or enjoy a strong fanfic impulse.

What do I mean by "strong fanfic impulse": the range of tone in this material is very, very large, and how much it has traditional story structure varies extremely. The central novella that constitutes the bulk of this volume does indeed have a fairly traditional story nature, and so do a couple of the short stories, but others are of structures like "what if favorite character went home for a holiday" structures that are more like "outtakes" and other structures that fanfic explores more thoroughly.

So if you have that kind of impulse to see more range of structure and tone, this is definitely for you. I put off reading this volume, honestly, because I was not sure that I could deal with the levels of complexity, intensity, and darkness that Yoon sometimes brings to his fiction with the other things that were going on in my life at the time. And those are sometimes present, not going to lie about that. But the middle of the volume is definitely in the fluffier end of the range--there is no coffeeshop AU, but there is a lot more of the "this is a lighter moment" end of things, brief touches, small illuminations of a larger world.

I would not recommend starting this series in this point--it does rely fairly heavily on you having some notion of the characters and the setting. But for those who are invested, there is a range and a depth here that will likely be appealing.

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Yoon Ha Lee now has to be one the most prominent science fiction writers of our time and rarely does he let fans down. Hexarchate Stories is another stellar anthology of short novella length tales which, of course, suffer from the same issues that plague all of these ambitious collections: they each differ in quality. That said, each story is enjoyable but due to personal preference, every reader will find their own gems amongst these pages. Using the world created in his Machineries of Empire series, we are treated to original and fascinating sci-fi ideas and stories that are all thought-provoking with characters from the near-future who somehow remain relatable and human.

Most of the characters are from Lee's previous novels but it isn't necessary to have read those to enjoy these superb pieces of flash fiction. However, to gain the best experience I recommend reading MoE trilogy beforehand. I had a lot of fun reading through this and of course, the advantage to such concise snippets of story is that it's easy to dip in and out of perhaps on a lunch break or whilst commuting. It was fantastic to return to a world that has been built with such detail and care; one of the best sci-fi worlds ever built.

I particularly love the diversity in this collection and Lee certainly doesn't shy away from serious issues of sexual assault, gender identity, manipulation and PTSD, to name a few. Another nice touch is the author's notes at the end of each tale explaining his thought processes and how the characters have evolved. One of the most engaging and absorbing sci-fi anthologies I've read — So very entertaining and a must-read for Lee connoisseurs. Many thanks to Solaris for an ARC.
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I will preface this by saying that this story collection is not a good introduction to the world of the Hexarchate. Most of the stories presume the reader is already familiar with the world of Lee’s Machineries of Empire trilogy. Like all of the Hexarchate books, content warnings for depictions of violence, PTSD, body horror, and sexual violence and coercion apply. 

Most of the stories are very short pieces of flash-fiction. My ebook copy didn’t have page markers, but I’d be surprised if most of them are more than 5 or 10 pages each. The exceptions are the two novellas Extracurricular Activities (previously available as a stand alone novella) and Glass Cannon. 

The short stories that worked best for me were the ones covering characters we’d already gotten to know in the main trilogy. Stories like The Chameleon’s Gloves and Omens which center on completely new characters tended to feel a little cramped and rushed to me. The two novellas were what truly shined for me in this collection. Extracurricular Activities takes place before the events of the trilogy and describes a mission early in Jeado’s career. It’s more light-hearted and funny than I’m used to from the hept/hexarchate world. It also gives the background for an offhand joke in the third novel regarding variable coefficient lubricant. 

Glass Cannon takes place a few years after the events of Revenant Gun. I can’t really talk about it much without spoiling the entire trilogy, but I will say that it served as a fully satisfying way to bring many of the remaining threads together, while opening up several fascinating new avenues to explore. I do wish that the story had done a little more to address Charis’ reaction to Jedao’s actions as captain of the Revenant, since there’s a huge gap between the end of Revenant Gun and where they are in this story without any indication they’ve had any contact with each other in the interim. 

Aside from the stories themselves, I really enjoyed the author’s notes at the end of each story. I’m always a sucker for hearing authors talk about how they go about their craft, and having short, specific discussions of each story was both a bit of mental break between the stories, and an appealing glimpse behind the curtain.  

Overall, if you enjoyed The Machineries of Empire trilogy this is an excuse to go back and revisit one of the most fascinating SFF settings out there right now.
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Since this was my first time reading any of Yoon Ha Lee’s works, it took me a while to understand the world of his stories - even if I took an immediate liking to some of his characters, particularly Jedao and Cheris (who are key characters in Ninefox Gambit). Most of the stories are really short; little snippets with no proper plot that give you a glimpse of the characters’ lives probably outside the plot of Lee’s novel. Every story ends with an author’s note, of his musings behind writing the story. I especially enjoyed reading the longer story and the novella, both of which were placed at the end, because I could properly dive into the Hexarchate world without being pulled back out at the end of the short story after only managing to dip my toe in. Overall, Hexarchate Stories were quite fun to read, and the world building is fantastic. I have very limited exposure to space opera, but I think Lee’s works should be an essential read for the genre, especially given how diverse his characters are in terms of their sexuality and gender identities. Although, this anthology would be better appreciated by people who are already familiar with the world in Ninefox Gambit - I felt like I was missing out a lot in not having read the novel set in the Hexarchate World first before diving into these stories.
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Yoon Ha Lee's Hugo Award-nominated novels in the Machineries of Empire series have been some of my favorite science fiction novels in recent years. Lee has offered us a wealth of short stories set in this world on his website, and many of those stories in this volume are included here, along with the story that we know every fan of the series is here for, "Glass Cannon." Set several years after the end of Revenant Gun, Jedao starts piecing together his past and wants to recover his memories. Of course, the repository of quite a few of his memories is Cheris, who has been living a quiet life teaching children among the Mwennin. Needless to say, the Shuos are not really down with this plan, though Cheris is willing to help Jedao to divest herself of a bunch of complicated memories. But how will this be accomplished? And at what cost?

A variety of other stories are here, including some shorter ones that are dear to my heart, like "The Robot's Math Lessons," a favorite of mine that let me understand the long game in Raven Strategem, and the story of Irriz the Assassin-Cat who, in her harness and leash journeying about with Zehun, reminds me of a certain Catten.

While not the best entry point to Lee's work, this volume is a must-have for any fan of the Machineries series. The timeline at the start was very useful, and the author's notes about the stories lent insights to both Lee's thoughts and the development of some of the characters. 

Emily Woo Zeller's narration of the audiobook is wonderful as always.
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Anyone wanting to read this collection should first absorb and get to grips with the challenging but rewarding Machineries of the Empire trilogy. Because of the complexity of the Machineries universe, Hexarchate Stories are really a collection for the trilogy’s fans, of which I am one. Even so it took me a little while to bed into this collection which initially has the sense of warm ups for the main event. Indeed, this glimpse into Yoon Ha Lee’s writing scrapbook of experimental, or works in progress, was indicated by accompanying commentaries by the author after each story.

But as the collection progressed, things began to develop into something very interesting as more of Jedao’s and Cheris’s respective backgrounds were further explored, until the novella, The Glass Cannon, which continues from the end of Revenant Gun.

Passionate, psychologically erratic, but strategically focused Jedao has to be the most interesting flawed hero/anti-hero that I have ever read. Particularly as this version of the man is an incomplete fabrication of the original.

Dependable, thoughtful, soul-searching Cheris is the perfect foil and tactical partner for a man who would be both mesmerising and terrifyingly unpredictable to meet in the flesh, even (or should I say ‘especially’?) if you were the vessel of his life knowledge up to the point of his interminable imprisonment.

There is no doubt The Glass Cannon is the grand finale of the collection, working Jedao, and Cheris (not to mention the servitors) to the full, particularly as it deals with many of the threads left unanswered by the trilogy.

Having said it took me a while to get into the collection, I do want to read it again now I have finished it because I see it in a different light. We are viewing an author working through the process of crafting not only a story but engaged in complex worldbuilding.

Some of the very short stories were interesting examples of taking something from real life and turning it into a piece of science fiction writing. The beginning pieces were also an exercise in playing with writing to see if it could be worked into something larger, like a book. I buy books where the artists have published their sketches for their finished painting or those that never made the cut. I also have one or two books which are facsimiles of poets’ edits (in some case quite brutal to get to the sublime, finished work). For me these books increase the enjoyment of the finished piece. So, maybe more writers should be brave enough to allow their reader to glimpse behind the scenes of the interesting process of creation and editing.

Finishing this book has only made me want more from an amazing world which still feels as if it has a great deal to give.

In all, the collection has continued to exacerbate my cravings for more of Yoon Ha Lee’s extraordinary style of energetic and thought-provoking writing.
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Hexarchate Stories is a collection of stories from Lee’s Machineries of Empire (henceforth MoE) series of novels. The first thing I will need to warn you is if you have never read any of the previous books in the series there are a number of terms that will probably go far over your head. I had originally picked up this advanced reader copy (from Rebellion via Netgalley, thanks!) because I had heard of this author before and the short story format caught my eye. I’m happy to say that it met my expectations, and has made me want to read the rest of the series when I can.

The universe of the MoE series is firmly Sci-Fi, and from what I can gather rides a line between the more fantastical Sci-Fi and the much harder Sci-Fi from novels like The Three Body Problem. As this is a set of short stories you’ll get tidbits from different times and places in the MoE series, some focusing on what I can only assume are main characters from the series like the person(s) known as Jedao, to random small-time characters that seem to have been created exclusively for the short story. Each short story is followed by a short bit of writing by Lee, an interesting foil to the normal short story format the allowed me to get a better view of how he writes, as well as the thinking behind creating each of these unique stories. I found myself liking the very short stories or “flash fiction” that the writer threw into the book. They didn’t have a lot of words on the page, but the stories themselves helped build a bit of the universe that everything else was set in.

The writing itself is relatively easy to follow, flows well, without too much prose and also without being too much to the point. You can get a feeling for the characters and the locations and things they interact with without being slapped in the face by the exact thread count of their uniforms or the exact distance they had to walk to get to their home that day. For me, this is the ideal style of writing, I like some detail, but sometimes prose gets to the point that it distracts from the story itself.

The biggest issue I think any new reader will find is that this is a completely unknown universe. The characters do include humans but the technology is unique to this universe, as are the factions and characters contained within. Once you get all the way through the collection you’ll find that you have come to understand a bit more of the universe, but without the full set of at least one backing story it’s nearly impossible to fully decipher what some things, such as the “moths’ are. One of the last stories in particular relates to a character’s exploits that are only hinted about in this collection.

The best parts to me are by far the characters themselves. You can feel that these characters are all very well thought out, from their psyche to their individual behaviors you can tell that these characters have gone through some stuff, and it has changed who they were fundamentally. It’s probably the number one thing that makes me want to read the rest of the series. This series definitely down with the LGBTQ scene, as a number of characters in this stories are not hetero-normative and this universe seems to be one where the lack of heterosexuality is absolutely normal. This coupled with the fact that the characters themselves tend to be people of color make the stories a fresh departure from many contemporary Sci-Fi series.

If you’re a fan of fantastical science fiction, you’ll want to check this series out. This collection is awesome, but you really must read the books as I feel like this is not a great place to jump in as this book can and will spoil things from the main series. Also, this is not a novel or series for underage folks, there are very adult themes and situations including one very well-written erotic story that expands on a character’s internal behaviors and how the clashes with how they present themselves publicly.

I am definitely going to try to find and read the earlier books in this series, these short stories were a blast and I would recommend them to anyone out there who wants some good Sci-Fi. If you can handle some adult situations and very political machnications you might just like this series too. If you already know the series, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t love this collection.

5 stars out of 5!
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Hexarchate Stories is an anthology of tales from Yoon Ha Lee, set, as the title implies, in the Hexarchate universe that was made famous by Ninefox Gambit and its sequels. I was a big fan of the original trilogy of works, with its unexplainable super-technology driven by a mixture of ritualised torture, belief, and mathematics, and its searingly memorable characters. What I wasn’t sure of was whether an anthology was necessary, whether it would add something to the universe, whether it would tell us new things, add new perspectives, or just serve as an unnecessary addendum to a sequence which wrapped up on a high.

I’m happy to say that my fears were ill-founded, and that this is an absolutely cracking collection, which adds flavour to an already rich universe, and context to already vivid characters. If you’re coming here after enjoying the trilogy, wondering if you want to give this a shot – stop here, go and read it.

Structurally, this is an interesting collection. There’s a novella, a coda to The RevenantGun, which takes up the back half of the text. But before that are a diverse and fascinating sprinkling of short tales in the Hexarchate universe. They range from vignettes – lines of poetry and self examination – to character studies and full blown narratives, which manage to fit some serious weight of content into their short lengths. All the things I loved about the Hexarchate are in here. There’s the diverse, difficult, broken, argumentative, trusting, loving, emotionally valid cast, ranging from mathematically apologetic servitor bots through Kel before they got quite so uptight, all the way to Shuos with attitude problems. What they all have in common, these characters, is that their feelings matter, that their stories matter – that they stand out in sharp relief from the background, they seize your attention, they make you empathise with them, if not always sympathise. They’re living people, real people, and the stakes they play for are real too.

That the text can evoke as much emotional response from a few lines of delicate poetry and an action-packed, kinetic high tech brawl is…delightful. But know that when you pick it up, this is a text which comes to the reader from all angles, and doesn’t hold back from any of them.

I would perhaps sound a note of caution; it feels like a lot of these stories would land better if you were already steeped in the word of the Hexarchate; if you know about the travails of the Kel, delight in the games of the Shuos, have seen Jedao and Cheris work their way through three books trying to be better versions of themselves, and/or break or save the world. As vignettes, as stories, I think they still work in isolation – but there’s a connective tissue which informs these stories, and you might be missing out if you come to them before the trilogy – especially the final novella, which rather gives the game away for some of the larger trilogy if read first!

On the other hand, there are some delightful notes from the author scattered between stories, and a sense of wry whimsy permeates both these informative missives and the surrounding text. There’s love and lust and enmity and friendship on the page, and the people that feel those emotions will seem genuine and fragile and real. And what the stories say about the sprawling universe of the Hexarchate – well, it’s there in the undertones of poems, and the silent beats between words as the people on the page decide what they can say next.

These are good stories. Some will probably appeal more than others (and I suspect everyone who came out of The Revenant Gun hoping for more will want to dive into the novella), but it feels like there’s something for everyone here, and that the collection as a whole is a cohesive, thoughtful treatise not only on the Hexarchate, but on the human condition. If you’ve been wanting more of the Hexarchate, then this collection is a jewel, one you’ll want to pick up and examine closely, with more there the deeper into it you look.

Very much recommended.
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I read this book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley; my enthusiasm is genuine and unprompted and my own.

First things first: this is very much a book for a reader of Machineries of Empire trilogy, or better yet, its fan: not a primer to Yoon Ha Lee's writing. Perhaps it's readable without knowing the context, but it must then be a peculiar half-dialogue overheard on the phone; you may laugh at some of the jokes, but you won't get the conversation. I don't think one needs to refresh the original novels to read this, but it wouldn't hurt, either; that said, I didn't, and it was not a problem, even though my memory is notoriously bad for fiction.

That said: what a feast for a fan! This collection contains a few short stories and novellettes proper, a bunch of short vignettes, and when I was about halfway through, I was reaching the conclusion that this volume might not be a must-have: a fun book, sure, but one I could buy as e-book, or on sale, one day. Then I got to the last story, a novella which is actually a coda for the trilogy (yes! starring our favourites!) as substantial as anything, and I changed my mind completely. 

I don't even know that I can judge this collection on its merits. Is it great? I can't tell, I was too engrossed to pay attention, but it's just so completely fun! It's a pleasure to be back with this group of misfits (a polite way of putting things). To read more about them. It could have had more Zehun and Mikodez, but otherwise, I have no complaints.

The commentary from the author himself is another pleasure. I love such things, even as I consider them utterly superfluous to my own reading and interpretation. 

I highly recommend this to others who enjoyed this series - surely they want to find out what happened next.
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I made a mistake in thinking this was a collection of standalone short stories when I requested this. I should make it clear that the stories herein are closely tied with Yoon Ha Lee's The Machineries of Empire series, and this isn't really the best entryway to Lee's works. 

It is nonetheless a testament to Lee's writing that despite me not having read his earlier works, I could still enjoy the shorts within. The impact of some stories was lost on me since I was unfamiliar with the characters, but there was still plenty for me to enjoy. The short featuring a girl teaching a robot math was especially charming, and the other more action-oriented pieces were entertaining. While I'd advise others to put aside this collection until they've read the related trilogy, I think fans will absolutely love this. 

Additionally, I really love the author's notes at the end of every story. The inner workings of writers and their process always fascinates me, so having Lee allow us a peek into his mind was great. Even for some of the stories I skipped (just a few, because I wasn't familiar with the characters/concepts mentioned), I still religiously read the notes, because they were all interesting in some way.
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I think these short stories will be awesome for fans of the novels set in this universe. I've not read any, so I was confused a bit. The writing though is excellent.
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Yoon Ha Lee writes science fiction well.  This book is an interesting demonstration of this author’s talents.  A worthy and wonderful read for science fiction enthusiasts and those who are new to the genre.
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Después de leer las tres entregas de la trilogía Machineries of Empire se ve que me había quedado con más ganas de este universo, así que me alegré mucho con la noticia de la publicación de Hexarchate Stories. Algunos de los contenidos ya los había leído, así que en esos referenciaré la reseña anterior de ser posible. Aunque me ha gustado el libro en general, no estoy segura de que se pueda disfrutar plenamente sin haber leído las otras novelas, porque en muchas ocasiones lo que hace es profundizar en algún aspecto que se había eliminado de la novela o que simplemente se había pasado por alto.

The Chameleon’s Gloves
Trepidante historia donde un Kel expulsado de su clan se convierte en timador utilizando sus dotes camaleónicas para copiar los movimientos de las personas de forma casi perfecta.
How the Andan court
Una poética declaración de amor.
Seven Views of the Liozh Entrance Exam
Me gusta este estilo de flashmash para contar una historia a base de pinceladas, aunque en este caso no llega a desarrollarse mucho. Al autor también le gusta por los comentarios que hace, aunque cree que tienen poco mercado.
Apenas pudimos conocer a la madre de Jedao en la trilogía original así que resulta agradable encontrarse aquí una pequeña historia que la tiene como protagonista. De hecho, los relatos siguientes también son de la infancia de Jedao, pero en estos la figura materna brilla por su ausencia.
Desde la visión de la hermana pequeña de Jedao, asistimos a una trifulca que tiene lugar en su planeta de origen. Me gusta el giro final que dejar entrever la compleja personalidad del protagonista de la trilogía.
Esta es una historia muy tonta que supongo que tendrá más sentido para quienes posean un gato, pero al no ser mi caso, no me dice nada.
Black Squirrels
Otra broma del autor, sobre la vigilancia de los campus académicos.
Una nueva perspectiva de Jedao desde el punto de vista de su hermano mayor, con la posibilidad añadida de ver los detalles que poco a poco conformaron su personalidad. 
Extracurricular Activities
Un relato eminentemente sexual, sin trama ni nada que se le parezca, que le sirve al autor para añadir una nota erótica a la recopilación.
Hunting Trip
Esta historia en particular, aporta poco a la antología, salvo saber que Jedao malcría a sus sobrinas, un dato que ya conocíamos.
The Battle of Candle Arc
Calendrical Rot
Aquí nos presentan lo que podría haber sido un capítulo introductorio para la primera novela de la trilogía, que quizá hubiera suavizado la tremenda curva de aprendizaje que exigía la lectura.
A partir de aquí los relatos cambian de protagonista para que conozcamos mejor a Cheris, tras haber explorado un poco el pasado de Jedao. Siendo una de las principales características de Cheris su dominio de las matemáticas, es interesante como Yoon Ha Lee nos muestra las diferencias entre calendarios y la imposición de normas por parte del colonizador.
The Robot’s Math Lesson
Otra anécdota de la infancia de Cheris, que no deja de ser eso, un recuerdo.
En esta ocasión, la elección de un arma de duelo le permite al autor definir un poco más al personaje.
Los servidores representan un papel bastante importante en el desarrollo de Ninefox Gambit, así que entiendo que el autor haya querido darle algo de protagonismo estos robots.
Irriz the Assassin-Cat
Una historia entrañable sobre las relaciones familiares que incluso los más despiadados asesinos pueden tener.
Desplazando el foco a otro personaje de la trilogía, en esta ocasión son Brezan y su esposa quienes protagonizan un relato ligero y poco memorable sobre una visita al zoo.
Gamer’s End
El uso de la segunda persona en una narración no es algo muy habitual, pero Yoon Ha Lee utiliza este recurso de manera muy interesante para este relato. El ritmo es trepidante y aunque parece claro cuál es el objetivo de la prueba a la que «nos» someten como protagonistas, me ha gustado de principio a fin.
Glass Cannon
Con este último relato Yoon Ha Lee añade una coda a la trilogía que cambia el final de la historia y la deja preparada para las continuaciones que pueda querer escribir. Algunos de los recursos que utilizan parecen un poco tramposos pero realmente abre un nuevo mundo de posibilidades que ya veremos cómo explota.
Hexarchate Stories es una lectura muy recomendable y complementaria para quien haya disfrutado de la trilogía Machineries of Empire. De no ser así, no merece la pena leer el libro, pues se perderá gran parte de su valor.
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This was a seriously fun and enlightening tour into the mind of Yoon Ha Lee. "Hexarchate Stories" is a fantastic collection of stories set within the Machineries of Empire universe. If you haven't read anything in the series, or at the very least "Ninefox Gambit," most of these probably won't be as enjoyable for you. There were a few self-contained stories, including the first one, but probably not enough of them for first time Hexarchate readers. This was definitely written for fans of the trilogy. 

The collection ranged from short story, to prose, to novella. Some were previously published in other works while there were a few original stories as well. They showed a range that I hadn't really expected from this author, especially when it came the humour. Several of them were quite funny! 

What I enjoyed the most, though, was how much clarity it gave to the Hexarchate and the characters within it. I feel like I know have a much stronger grasp on the universe and the motivations of characters we were introduced to in the trilogy, especially Cheris and Jedao. That time line at the beginning is something all Yoon Ha Lee fans need to have printed out and up on their walls for reference. 

There are a lot of stories in here so I won't break them all down, but my favorites were the delightful ones about Jedao's childhood, the stellar "The Battle of Candle Arc," and the thoroughly entertaining novella that ends the collection, "Glass Cannon." Glass Cannon completely blew me away. I'm so going to be re-reading it, and often. 

Now that I've finished "Hexarchate Stories" I have such a stronger appreciation for the Machineries of Empire. I actually feel like I know what's going on! This is definitely required reading for other fans of the universe.
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