Hexarchate Stories

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 2 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

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.
Omens
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.
Honesty
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.
Bunny
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.
Silence
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
Gloves
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.
Birthdays
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.
Sword-Shopping
En esta ocasión, la elección de un arma de duelo le permite al autor definir un poco más al personaje.
Persimmons
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.
Vacation
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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It can be difficult to sum up the theme of a short story collection, where style and length, time periods and characters, range so far and wide.  But with Hexarchate Stories, I decided that looking at them in terms of bookends is apt, bookends to the Machineries of Empire trilogy itself.

On the one side we have what has gone before.  We see the Kel prior the existence of even the heptarchate, then later glimpses of the Andan, the Liozh.  We see Jedao:  as a child and a cadet and the man he was before Hellspin.  Those are particularly poignant, for even the lighter-hearted tales bear the weight of knowing what’s to come and at points, that is keen as a knife.  And we see Cheris in younger years as well, painting a broader picture of her relationship with servitors as well as the impact of being a part of a minority culture struggling not to be subsumed fully into the hexarchate.  

The soft moments of daily life were some of the most powerful in retrospect, for they show us this universe outside the taut lines of battle and desperate schemes, show us the things that rebellion should consider and yet that they inevitably struggle to work around.  Because it’s hard, so hard, with terrible choices a dime a dozen.  I think the trilogy itself did a good job of demonstrating those itself, in spite of the necessarily tight confines of plot in a military-focused tale.  But many of these stories underscore it further.

On the other side, we have Glass Cannon:  the sequel novella to the trilogy.  We go from seeing Jedao and Cheris as they were, to as they are in the post-Revenant Gun era.  I will admit I was nervous going in, for reasons entirely to do with myself and certain aspects of poor luck when it comes to my reading interests.  But I needn’t have worried: it was well done and took a very satisfying turn, a fantastic mixture of action and emotion.  

Bookends, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be another shelf.
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Billed as a collection of short stories, its a pleasure when some of them turn into long novellas. Standalone entertainment, that also fills out more of the Jedao backstory.
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Mostly short stories about Jedao and Cheris’s younger lives, but a final longer story about their unwilling reunion which was very satisfying (and Jedao’s not quite human nature is more fully elaborated in fairly yucky ways).
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Excellent, clever, and often funny stories mostly about Shuos Jedao, a primary character from Lee's trilogy set in the same universe. drawing on Lee's own experiences as an Asian-American in Texas. I loved these origin stories and escapades and gaining an even better feel for the world in which they're set. I recommend these stories and the full Machineries of Empire series.
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Reviewed on podcast: http://mainebeacon.com/collins-claims-its-inappropriate-to-discuss-impeachment-but-was-happy-to-with-clinton/
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Reading short stories set in a world you love is like coming home. It just feels so familiar and emotional in a different way to the original books. And that’s exactly how Hexarchate Stories felt to me.

For the most part, these stories are more like vignettes, snapshots of life before and after the main events of the trilogy. There are a handful of longer ones (a couple of which were already published as short stories elsewhere), and the last 40% or so of the book is a kind of sequel novella to the entire series (and, incidentally, my favourite of the collection).

The best thing about this collection is the insight it gives you into both the familiar characters of the trilogy and characters outside of them. Not new characters, really, because they’re mostly all related somehow, but characters you don’t see a lot of. Jedao’s family gets a few stories (and those ones really did make me cry, particularly the story from Rodao’s POV). And there are stories which do a little bit to further the worldbuilding of the universe. How it was before, how it was after, more about when the heptarchate became the hexarchate. It’s not things that are necessary for understanding the main trilogy, but it’s things that add to it later on.

Like I said, the story I loved most was the sequel novella to the series. If the ending to Revenant Gun left you heartbroken, then this story will resolve all that heartbreak. Yes, it left me sad about Cheris and Jedao yet again, but it was a good kind of sad this time.

And now all I have to do is stave off the inevitable desire to reread the whole series.
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[this review will be up on my blog, acquadimore.wordpress.com, on June 24, 2019]

Hexarchate Stories is a collection of stories – from flash fiction and prose poems, both old and new, to a sequel novella – set in the universe of the Machineries of Empire series.
While many of these stories develop the worldbuilding, give a PoV to characters that were only minor in the trilogy, and give you some insight into how this series came together, they’re not necessary to understand it. Nor – I think – would mean a lot to someone who isn’t familiar with the main trilogy. I would recommend this mostly to those who loved this universe and want more.
As I’m part of said those, I’m glad these stories exist, and I’m glad that I can find most of them in only one place now.

This collection starts with The Chameleon’s Gloves, following Rhehan, an alt (non-binary person) who is trying to pull off art theft and gets roped into something much more dangerous instead, something that will make them question their loyalties. This was interesting mostly because of its worldbuilding, as it’s set before everything we saw in the series came into being.
Of mostly historical significance is also Seven Views of the Liozh Entrance Exam, snapshots about a faction then gone heretical, which made me realize just how much the Hexarchate misunderstands its own history.

And I can’t not mention the gorgeous prose poem How the Andan Court. I’ve always been intrigued by the Andan faction, mostly because a) pretty and b) we see a lot of the inner workings of the Shuos, but not of the Andan, but from the little we see of actual Andan in the series they’re equally terrifying.
And now I want them to court me instead

There are also stories following Jedao’s childhood and family. They’re bittersweet, especially if you know what happens later, and really interesting, because Garach Ledana is a very fascinating person and because foreshadowing. The one in Rodao’s PoV was especially heartbreaking, as I can’t help but wonder about all the what ifs.
(Also, of course kid!Jedao cut class to play jeng-zai)

Then there’s Extracurricular Activities, the novelette that introduced me to this series. It has all the humor of the series, but it's much lighter in tone; I’ve read it probably more than ten times by now, and every time I catch some new detail that makes me laugh. (The part about eating utensils and Jedao’s thoughts about knives never fail.)
It’s just – Jedao. He’s a charming, murderous bisexual disaster?
Also, here you’ll get more details about his mother, about the Gwa Reality, and you’ll get to read probably the closest thing to a (m/m) romance there is in this series, apart from the Brezan/Tseya storyline, maybe.

Far less romantic is Gloves, in which Jedao visits a brothel, feat. forbidden Kel uniform kink. Basically PWP, but as I suspected, there was some seriously ugly context, because my experience told me that when this author takes the time to describe a sex scene instead of just mentioning it – at least in this universe – there’s always some seriously ugly context.
And I mean, that was one messed up ending.

Another story I read before the actual trilogy is The Battle of Candle Arc, about of one of Jedao’s most well-known battles, in which he was outnumbered eight to one. I’ve read it a lot of times by now, and every time, my favorite parts are the ones about cross-faction bickering and the Jedao/Menowen dialogues.

Then there’s Calendrical Rot, which started out as the prologue of Ninefox Gambit but was then removed. It's just a fragment about one of the many places in which the story began, and now I have questions, and is it weird that unanswered questions just make this world feel more real?

The following stories (Birthdays, The Robot’s Math Lessons, Sword-Shopping, Persimmons) are about Cheris, her Mwennin upbringing, and her relationship with servitors.
The servitors have never been my favorite part of this series, but reading about how they see humans and how they interact with them, especially with Cheris, is always interesting.

Then there are two stories following some of my favorite characters: Irriz the Assassin Cat, of course, which is probably my favorite of the flash pieces, because it’s about Zehun and cats and Shuos parenting, and Vacation, about Brezan and Tseya, featuring questionable Nirai experiments.

The last short story is Gamer’s End. I’m not sure where it’s placed timeline-wise, but it’s a really interesting piece in second person about Shuos Academy’s new ethics curriculum. This is probably the most unethical way to have a test about ethics anyone has ever come up with, but what can you expect from the Shuos?
Also: a medical unit decored with knitted lace? Mikodez, why. (No, seriously, half of the reason I like this series are this kind of details.)

And then there’s the sequel novella, Glass Cannon, in which Jedao Two escapes the Citadel of Eyes to get his memories back from Cheris, and the two kind of reconcile in the process. I have some mixed feelings about this, because it has an exposition problem. I think there was an attempt to make this novella accessible to those who haven’t read the main series or don’t remember it that well, but it… really didn’t flow smoothly the way the rest of the series does. (How many times did you need to directly tell me that Kujen liked luxury?)

Also, I’m not sure if there are going to be more stories in this universe, but reading a very open-ended sequel novella after the trilogy had a pretty satisfying conclusion is… somewhat disappointing? However, there were some things left open in the third book, and this novella started to deal with them (servitor rights! moth rights! Seriously I love the Harmony), and Jedao Two was in a terrible place mentally when we left him - at least what happened here seems to have made that better. Also, Cheris now knows more details about what happened with Dhanneth, which is something I had hoped would happen in Revenant Gun, and I’m glad that was addressed, if somewhat obliquely.

I realize that so far what I’ve said about this novella sounds mostly negative, but I actually really liked reading it – it's hilarious. As Cheris/Jedao and Jedao Two are both Jedao to a level but not fully, and as no one alive hates Jedao quite as much as Jedao himself does... well, it goes exactly as messily as one could think. It reminded me of Extracurricular Activities, as it has all of the humor and some of the darkness of the main series but none of the heaviness. And since I'm always there for mirroring, something about this ending made a lot of sense to me, too.
(My favorite parts were the ones in which Jedao was described as “the regenerating menace from outer space” and “what did the void vomit forth”.)
Also: Niath cameo (I’m so glad he seems to be doing ok, even though I hadn’t really met him before), Hemiola cameo, and poor Mikodez.
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Many of the Hexarchate Stories center on details of Cheris or Jedao's early life. They're sweet on their own, or filled with doom if you start thinking about the fates of Cheris and Jedao's families. Jedao's family menagerie often appears, including his mother's geese and a laid-back, tractable cat (I expected said cat to end up having kittens on a pile of clothes in the back of someone's closet, but apparently that memory belongs only to my childhood, not to Jedao's). Of the domestic stories, one from Jedao's older brother's point of view and another about Cheris's birthday particularly stand out.

The final story is "Glass Cannon," a novella which picks up a few years after Revenant Gun left off. Much of "Glass Cannon" is straight-up adventure, echoing the exuberant action scenes of the beginning of Revenant Gun. I was spoiled for lots of plot points (in fair disclosure, I have a beta-reader's credit at the end of this book, though I hadn't actually read any of the "Glass Cannon" text). The spoilers didn't really matter, though, because Jedao's quest to recover his memories pulled me along faster than I could recollect who shot whom with what type of bullet.

I was expecting a cliffhanger ending, but actually the final scenes in "Glass Cannon" had a satisfying feeling of clarity. In each successive hexarchate book, more and more of the plot is driven by nonhuman figures' agendas. Two of my favorite "Glass Cannon" characters--or, more accurately, two of the characters I found most interesting--were a moth named Harmony and an installation named Avros Base, each of whom has very strong opinions about what Cheris and Jedao ought to do. At the end of "Glass Cannon," other humans finally figure out what we, as readers, have known since Revenant Gun: the moths who power the hexarchate's spacedrive are intelligent, and they do not want what humans want.
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Great anthology featuring stories in The Machineries of Empire universe. Most of the stories feature Jedao or Cheris but there a few that feature secondary characters, like Ledana or Nidana. Most stories are only a few pages long. 

All of the stories were good with How the Andan Court being the least enjoyable as it was a poem. My favorite stories were The Chameleon's Gloves, Bunny, The Robot's Math Lessons, and Irriz the Assassin-Cat. 

I really looked forward to the author's note after each story as it added a new depth, the inspiration behind Irriz the Assassin-Cat had me laughing. This is a must read to fans of the series. For anyone interested I would read the series first otherwise spoilers will be revealed and some parts may be confusing. 

The Chameleon's Gloves ★★★★★
Rhehan, a ji-Kel, is trying to steal some art when he is abducted and forced to help out the Kel in a life or death situation. The story was great as I loved the art heist and I got to learn a lot more about the Kel. 

How the Andan Court ★★★
The only poem in the novel. Alright but I found it added nothing to character development or world building. 

Seven Views of the Liozh Entrance Exam ★★★
A confusing story about the Liozh exam. I still liked it even if I didn't fully understand it as I hated school exams which I thought were horrible, until you learn what happens if you fail the Liozh exam. 

Omens ★★★★
Ledana (Jedao's mom) sets up a date with Shkan at the theatre. This story reiterates how sexually free everyone is. 

Honesty ★★★★
A great story about Jedao, as a child, and his sister Nidana. I liked reading about Jedao's childhood more than about Nidana (as I completely forgot her from the series). 

Bunny ★★★★★
Cute story about Jedao looking for his families missing cat. Nidana was super cute. 

Black Squirrel ★★★
Strange story about Jedao fishing for black squirrels on campus. The inspiration behind the story was interesting. 

Silence ★★★★
Great story featuring Jedao visiting his mom and siblings while on leave. I loved the bad cooking joke and the siblings playful bickering. 

Extracurricular Activites ★★★
Shuos Jedao is tasked with an undercover mission to save a small spacecrew that has been captured behind enemy lines. I thought the battle ending was great but my favorite parts are how sexual free everyone is. 

Gloves ★★★★
Jedao has some down time at the station so he visits a brothel. Story was more graphic than the rest of the series but this was necessary for the story as it shows Jedao's sexual preferences and bedroom fetishes.

Hunting Trip ★★★★
Jedao and Garit go to the zoo. Good, short story. 

The Battle of Candle Arc ★★★★
Jedao is injured and facing superior odds against the heretics Lanteners. Great story with lots of action, little suspense (we all knew Jedao would win) and some world building. 

Calendrical Rot ★★★★
A story on the origin and potential side effect of calendrical rot. Was meant as a prequel to Ninefox Gambit until it was cut by the author. 

Birthdays ★★★★
A bittersweet story of Cheris no longer being able to celebrate her birthdays. I liked learning more about Mwennins. 

The Robot's Math Lessons ★★★★★
A super sweet story of a servitor and a little girl who met and slowly develop a friendship. I had a big smile on my face by the end. One of my favorite stories. 

Sword-Shaping ★★★★★
Cheris goes sword shopping with her girlfriend. The addition of impulse buying was amazing, glad to see it still effects people in the future. 

Persimmons ★★★★
A new servitor gets lost and goes to pick some persimmons. I liked how the stories MC was a servitor as this isn't normally done in novels. 

Irriz the Assassin-Cat ★★★★★
My favorite story in the novel. I am a huge cat lover so this story hit close to the heart. I love the idea of junk removing fabric being bested by cat hair. 

Vacation ★★★★
Brezan and Tseya go to the zoo. Short story but the reader gets to learn more about Brezan, Kel food and Yoon Ha Lee's past. 

Gamer's End ★★★
An okay story about the main character in a Shuos citadel taking a test. The beginning was slow, the middle was action packed and the ending was interesting. I didn't like the second person POV. 

Glass Cannon ★★★★
A great story featuring Cheris and Jedao as Jedao tries to retrieve some lost memories. I loved learning more about Jedao and the future he may have had if the future was different. 

Thanks to Netgalley and Solaris for the ARC.
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This is the first work I have read by Yoon Ha Lee. This is important, as it significantly affects my review. I have seen references to his series, “The Machineries of Empire”, which begins with “Ninefox Gambit”. I thought choosing a collection of short stories might be a good way to decide if I wanted to pick-up that series. In hindsight, this was a mistake, as this collection is more appropriate for fans of that universe and I think the enjoyment from this collection would be greatly enhanced by completing the trilogy first.

This collection is an eclectic set of stories. Some stand alone, while others feel like maybe they were sections that were cut from the trilogy. They all appear to be from that same universe that began with “Ninefox Gambit”. The collection ends with a novella which accounts for most of the word count.

I thought about not leaving a review, but this was a Netgalley pick and I decided that my review might help others who also had not read Yoon Ha Lee but were still considering picking up this collection. First off, Lee is a talented writer. There is little exposition here, and he has a knack for blending familiar, every day (things like food, or shopping or clothing) into a strange, complex setting. I’m guessing in any of his works, the reader must do a great deal of work, which I consider a good thing. However, in this collection, I think it’s a challenge that really limited my ability to enjoy the stories. There was just too much about the characters, the background of the setting, for me to appreciate them. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy parts of this. The first story, which is basically a museum heist was fun, and I ran into others such as “The Robot’s Math Lessons” that were fun little self-contained stories. I also enjoyed the author notes that accompany these stories. I read the entire collection, and I did find many spots of enjoyment, and an appreciation of the writing and hints of the complex world-building behind these stories. However, for me, this collection doesn’t really stand up on its own.

I’m giving this collection three stars, but it’s important to keep in mind that’s influenced by my lack of experience with the trilogy. I highly recommend reading the “The Machineries of Empire” trilogy first, and then picking this up as a supplemental work if you enjoyed the trilogy.
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To be honest, this was a very easy sell for me as I love the universe in which these stories are set and the Machineries of Empire books (starting with Nine Fox Gambit) are some of my favourite science fiction of recent years. Hexarchate Stories is mostly for completists, though, as quite a bit of the content is short stories that pad out character or plot moments from those books and which are also mostly available elsewhere, though in this case put in chronological order according to the universe. 

The exceptions to this are the longer pieces, 'Extracurricular Activities' and 'Glass Cannon'. The former is a heist story, effectively, with Jedao as unwilling criminal mastermind organising a raid on a space station by getting himself arrested, and is a very enjoyable look at the twistiness of Jedao's approach to doing things. 'Glass Cannon' is the story I'd been waiting for, a novella-length follow-up to the events of Revenant Gun which details what both Jedao and Cheris did next. It had me gripped all the way through, as Jedao comes in search of Cheris because he wants his memories back and Cheris discovers all sorts of things about the new Jedao that she really never wanted to know. 

All in all, if you're a completist like me you'll love this, if not then those two longer pieces are worth the price of admission on their own in my humble opinion. I can't wait to see what Yoon Ha Lee writes next and I will be right there waiting, money in hand!

I received this book free from Netgalley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review.
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