Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Chameleon's Gloves, by Yoon Ha Lee

★★★★☆ Plenty of action, tension, and suspense

(Space Opera; Machineries of Empire) Rhehan used to be a Kel supersoldier before being kicked out. Now the Kel needs Rhehan for a dangerous mission—offering the only coin Rhehan might consider. (7,865 words; Time: 26m)

Recommended By: GDozois+1 RHorton+1 JStrahan+2

Although this story takes place in the world of "Ninefox Gambit," it stands alone perfectly.

"The Chameleon's Gloves," by (edited by John Joseph Adams), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

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

Pro: A Kel's gloves represent that person's honor. Rhehan was drummed out and hence lost the right to wear those gloves, and yet, even after all this time, Rhehan really wants to. In this story, Rhehan earns the right to them when Rhehan shows more honor than the Kel who invite Rehan back.

Th story has an interesting setting, good action, and good tension. Much of the tension comes from wondering whether Rhehan will backstab the Kel, or whether Rhehan will betray Liyeusse to get back into the Kel. By the time the general gives Rhehan the weapon, we think we know Rhehan’s character pretty well, and we’re sure the general chose wisely.

The outcome is satisfying, in that the weapon is destroyed (together with, one hopes, as few stars as possible), that Rhehan is free and still together with Liyeusse.

The non-binary character is done well. I finished the story with no clear feeling of whether Rhehan was male or female.

Con: It’s not clear what good it does to destroy this one weapon. What one person discovered, another one can discover.

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4 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Good solid fun story, and with wider interest if you're a fan of Ninefox Gambit. It felt like it could have been longer and taken more time over the heist-like elements, but that's not so much a criticism as a wish.

  2. Note that it takes place long, long before the events in Ninefox Gambit. Back in the time when the Kel were a separate civilization that hadn't been incorporated into the Hept/Hexarchate.

  3. This is a good story. I'd rate it a 4 myself.
    Yes - wider interest for fans of the novel Ninefox Gambit.

    I have read Ninefox Gambit and Raven Stratagem, and really liked both novels. This is a standalone short story with characters un-related to the novels, so you don't need to read the novels BUT I think if you had read Ninefox Gambit it would give you a finer appreciation of the subtler aspects of the story.

  4. Now online at Uncanny 41 (Jul/Aug 2021):