Risingshadow has had the honour of interviewing Yoon Ha Lee about Raven Stratagem (Solaris Books, June 2017), which is the sequel to Ninefox Gambit (Solaris Books, June 2016).
Information about Yoon Ha Lee:
Yoon Ha Lee is a writer from Houston, Texas, whose work has appeared in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. He has published over forty short stories, and his critically acclaimed collection Conservation of Shadows was released in 2013. He lives in Louisiana with his family and an extremely lazy cat, and has not yet been eaten by gators.
Click here to visit his official website.
AN INTERVIEW WITH YOON HA LEE
- You're the author of the critically acclaimed Ninefox Gambit, which is the first novel in The Machineries of Empire series. Has the success of Ninefox Gambit been a surprise to you?
It has! I think many writers daydream about some measure of success, especially after the amount of work it takes to write a novel (or anyway, the amount of work it took me--maybe it's easier for other writers?). But this is honestly beyond anything I could have hoped for, and I'm very humbled and grateful.
- Your new novel, Raven Stratagem, is a sequel to Ninefox Gambit. Is there anything that you can tell us about it?
Raven Stratagem picks up just after the end of Ninefox Gambit. The heroine from Ninefox has been possessed by the mad genius and mass murderer General Jedao, and Jedao takes over a fleet exactly at a moment when the hexarchate is being invaded by foreigners. He claims he's going to protect the hexarchate, but no one knows what his real agenda is--and no one trusts him. We see the action from the viewpoints of a soldier who escaped the takeover and is trying to warn his people about Jedao's plans, a general whom Jedao is holding captive, and the hexarch of the Shuos faction as he races to figure out Jedao's game. And, of course, there are also big space battles, assassinations, and descriptions of food!
- Are there any major differences between Ninefox Gambit and Raven Stratagem?
Two big ones. The first is that the viewpoint switches from Kel Cheris in Ninefox Gambit to the three aforementioned viewpoints in Raven Stratagem, mainly because Jedao-in-Cheris's-body is now the antagonist. The second is scope. Ninefox was very tightly focused on the siege that takes up most of the action, and we didn't see much outside Cheris and her fleet. In Raven Stratagem, we get a broader picture of life in the hexarchate and the stakes at hand--it's one of the reasons I wanted to go with more viewpoints. I especially liked being able to use the Shuos hexarch as a secondary viewpoint because he has the security clearance to know a ton of stuff that poor Cheris was never told!
- Can Raven Stratagem be read as a standalone novel or is it important to read Ninefox Gambit first?
I'm afraid it's not going to make a lick of sense if you haven't read Ninefox Gambit first! Not that I would stop anyone from trying if they felt like it. Back in the day, I used to read sf/f novels in series out of sequence all the time because the libraries or bookstores didn't have the first books--and I spent half my childhood in South Korea, so my reading options were limited.
- Do you have anything to say to readers who haven't yet discovered your novels?
You might enjoy these books if you like immersion that throws you in the deep end, with minimal exposition (it's a technique I enjoy myself), cracky science fantasy based in consensus reality, handwavy magic powers in space, and military action.
These books may not be for you if you like exposition and overt explanations, or science fiction with a clear basis in real science and engineering. And if you dislike violence, swear words, and disturbing themes, maybe give them a miss. There are plenty of different books for everyone!
- What are you currently working on? What can readers expect next from you?
My current project is Dragon Pearl, a middle grade Korean mythology space opera for Disney-Hyperion's forthcoming Rick Riordan Presents imprint. When I wrote the proposal, I said to myself, "I bet Korean mythology space opera is an underserved niche," and I suspect I'm right. (That being said, I would love to be proved wrong.) It features a teen fox spirit girl who goes after her brother after he allegedly deserts to quest for a powerful magical artifact, the Pearl of the title.
After that, I'll be working on a collection of short stories set in the hexarchate setting, half reprints and half new stuff, and after that, science fiction about a space station, their friend the neat freak fox spirit, and a mystery that's been dumped in their laps. Should be fun!
- Is there anything you'd like to add?
Thank you to all the readers for their support, and thank you for having me!