Cover Image: Hexarchate Stories

Hexarchate Stories

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Member Reviews

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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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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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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