In a bit of a twist, I'm going to record my thoughts as a finish each book. It'll be interesting how things change over time. As of right now (5/19/2017), I have the following on my ballot.
Currently reading A Closed & Common Orbit. While the characters are engaging and the plot(s) are generally imaginative and sustaining, I could use without the gender identity lecture aimed at 7-year-olds.
- All the Birds in the Sky - Charlie Jane Anders
- No Award
- Ninefox Gambit - Yoon Ha Lee
- Too Like The Lightning by Ada Palmer
All the Birds in the Sky
Done, still thinking....
The first book I finished was Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee. My short take is this was a serviceable tale. Enjoyable but not really work that is at the top of the field. There was no real opportunity to develop an emotional connection with the main character, Cheris. I was starting to develop an interest in Jedao by the end of the book.
Thematically, the book seems to embrace the idea that a change in perspective can shift power. That can be an interesting theme.
In this case, the book uses mathematics as the mechanism for changing the religion that is the basis for power. Mathematics changes the calendar which in turn changes their religion/social structure/government. Mathematics in the form of physical geometry is also a tool used for combat. If you line people up in a certain formation, then the formation has more or less useful weapons and/or defenses.
I had one constant thought while reading this book. "So if their religion is altered by math, then what happens when they find out that someone forgot to carry the two?"
Mathematics doesn't work that way. Incorrectly calculating your expected fuel efficiency on a road trip will not change the distance you travel before running out of gas.
The entire math/calendar/socio-political structure element had me thinking about the influence of delusions on characters. If I wanted to read about how delusional characters impact a fictional world, I would have reached for Michael R. Fletcher's work long before I would have reached for this.
A couple of other features came to mind in the days after I moved on.
Military units were disbanded and "processed" after a successful battle. My impression was that the processing involved some sort of memory alteration/erasure. Just disbanding a successful unit is counterproductive if the objective is to allow a unit to progress based on past experiences. It undermines esprit de corps.
The "processing" was to have included their company commander. The story included generals that had risen in the ranks. How can a general develop memories/historical experiences upon which to base future actions if they cannot retain those lessons learned as a small unit commander?
The second feature of the book is that there didn't seem to be any better alternatives to the government/social structure that already existed. That structure seemed to be very controlling and limiting.
This may well be a good book at the start of a great series. As a stand alone novel, it just isn't at the top of the field. I gave it 4 Stars on Goodreads.
Too Like The Lightning