May 26, 2017
I don't often read military SF, but I've been reading through this year's Hugo finalists, including Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee. This is a great example of an awards list recommending books that I wouldn't pick up on my own but am glad I had the nudge. What makes this book feel unique is that while it is very much science fiction, the science is so foreign to us that it takes on a magical approach. Ninefox Gambit doesn't feel like a fantasy, but the worldbuilding often flows like one.
Kel Charis is tasked with reclaiming a fortress from heretics. The heretics have introduced "calendrical rot"—a different scientific and mathematical base that threatens the current empire. But in order to succeed, she is paired with the immortal traitor Shuos Jedao. Jedao is a brilliant tactician, but also quite crazy. Cheris lays siege to the fortress while worried she can't trust Jedao's advice and that she might have to kill him. As she learns that the hexarchate that sent her on this mission is hiding necessary information from her, she starts to trust Jedao more and more.
Ninefox Gambit manages to be about politics, military command, propaganda, governance structures, and faith without being too much about any of those things. Very well woven together.