Thursday, February 16, 2017

Extracurricular Activities, by Yoon Ha Lee

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(Space Opera; Machineries of Empire) A Heptarchate undercover mission lead by one of Jedao’s friends has gone missing, so Jedao goes undercover to try and rescue them. (14,259 words; Time: 47m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average
Recommended By: RHorton:5

This is a prequel to “Nine Fox Gambit,” but it’s not necessary to read that book first. In fact, it’s possible that reading this story first would make the book more approachable.

"," by (edited by Jonathan Strahan), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: The best part of this story is the hilarious ways that the narrator rationalizes Jedao’s different actions. For example, “Jedao had a standard method for dealing with new commanders, which was to research them as if he planned to assassinate them.”

It’s a good plot, with a clear resolution.

The world building is extensive.

Con: The world building is confusing.

Although Jedao isn’t a Mary Sue, he acts like he thinks he is. It’s hard to believe anyone so reckless as he would be put in command of anything. (Similar to complaints about Star Trek’s Captain Kirk.) His success has an unearned quality to it that makes it less-satisfying.

The Gwa-an are hard to take seriously. Their priorities are so impractical that it’s hard to believe their society functions at all.

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5 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Interesting to see Shuos Jedao alive and on his own.

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  2. Yes, I was rather glad I read this and "The Battle of Candle Arc" before reading either of the novels.

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  3. I read the books first and then the short fiction. Worth reading if you are a fan of the novels.

    What is very good about this piece...
    We see Jedao as a young man before the incident
    Jedao's inter-action with his new commanding officer - Essier
    Jedao's working relationship with Haval
    Jedao flirting with Teshet
    The goose fat Jedao's mother sends him

    What is very UN-convincing is when Jedao convinces Meng to come back with him.

    We know the government Jedao works for is ruthless. That was what tipped him over in the end. By the time we get to Ninefox Gambit, it was worst. Meng just goes with Jedao.

    Micah Epstein, the artist, is already on my Hugo ballot for Best Pro Artist. Now that I have read the story, I know the artwork he did is an excellent match for the story.

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  4. I liked this one at first, but it seemed to get worse as it went along. The writing at the end was not up to the same standards as the beginning. And the one twist at the end didn't work for me, in part because it was completely unnecessary and had no bearing on the plot.

    2/5

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    Replies
    1. You didn't like the deus ex lubricante ending? :-)

      As far as the writing, I didn't notice a big difference across the story. I've read almost all of Yooh Ha Lee's work, and the writing is normally excellent. Can you put your finger on what disappointed you? (I realize it can be hard to articulate why you did or didn't like a story, but it makes it more fun to discuss.)

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