Conservation of Shadows : Yoon Ha Lee

Book review for : Conservation of Shadows
Author : Yoon Ha Lee
Rating : 5 stars

Each is a world of its own

“Conservation of Shadows” is the title of the last short story in this collection. Not even the best one, but it is a fun title, and several other of her stories play with ‘shadows’.

So, what makes this collection 5 stars?

I found the first story confusing and thus boring. I thought the author was trying to stuff way too much about this sci-fi world into one short story. So I began the rest of the book with apprehension, although I tried to keep an open mind because I did admire how creative the first story was. My apprehension slowly faded, and by the middle of the book I was enjoying every story.

I do not generally like short stories, but I would go back and re-read this entire collection.  Why? The author obviously put a lot of work into these stories. The over-complication that caused some confusion was a sign of how thought-out the worlds were apart from what was even shared in the story. Almost every one of these stories could be a full-fledged book, but she cut it down to the short plot she wanted to tell us about. (One story is a prequel/side-story for her Machineries of Empire series.)

I’m positive that, on re-read, I would figure out more of these intricacies that were lost on me the first time through.

Closing up the last story, I was satisfied that I’d found a book I could recommend. Then came the author’s notes. Yoon Ha Lee is hilarious—her notes are highly entertaining, and add a level of ‘interesting’ to the stories. Several (most?) of the stories are based on historical people or events, naturally involving Korea, several on the Japanese occupation of Korea, one based on Admiral Yi Sun Sin. (When I read the stories, I expected they were historically based, but even so I couldn’t quite figure out all the parallels; she wasn’t totally obvious about it, and it’s not social commentary as far as I can tell, she just finds all sorts of cool things to write about.)

I will definitely be reading Ninefox Gambit, and I hope Yoon Ha Lee continues writing her excellent stories!


Review also posted on Amazon. 


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