Hexarchate Stories is a collection of brief glimpses into the characters and worlds of the Machineries of Empire series.
The stories read as an anthropological look into the everyday lives of this future society. It’s a great character study that examines a number of scenarios made entertaining thanks to Lee’s personable writing style.
A few highlights:
Omens gives a brief snapshot of two important cultural touchstones: architecture and theatre. Lee paints a vivid architectural picture of an epic theater done in a historical style. Coupled with a tragedy centered on a love triangle, the story makes for a great insight into the artistic side of this world.
Silence is a quick family story, showing the interactions of a group of siblings at the dinner table. The story feels like a bit of anthropology, giving the reader insight into the daily lives of these characters. We get the sense of tense relations in a far off part of the world and of the toll war takes on young soldiers.
Birthdays paints the concept of a birthday in a different light. We see the juxtaposition of society that celebrates the individual versus a society that assigns the same birthday to its citizens. I found it to be an interesting tidbit, something I hadn’t considered when thinking about the differences in worlds, societies, and their customs.
The Robot’s Math Lessons tells the story of a quirky robot who forms an unlikely bond with a young girl through a love of equations. I love the concept of a brilliant artificial intelligence purposely writing equations incorrectly as an inside joke. It highlights the human side of robots nicely.
On a final note, the greatest parts of the collection are the personal notes following each story. We get insights into how the stories relate to the series at large and how Lee’s own experiences tie into the narratives. It’s a deeply personal touch that shows Lee’s dedication to the material and its readers.
By Yoon Ha Lee
Published by Solaris
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.