A collection of clever short stories by the author of _Nine Fox Gambit_. I enjoyed the stories, but they are some of the author's earliest work and they're a little less polished, a little more MFA than her later books. The short stories each get their own sci-fi or fantasy setting, though the sci-fi stories tend to have fantastical elements while the fantasy stories tend to have mathematical or linguistic elements. The typical story involves an agent on the losing side of a war or occupation, trying to find a way to deal with enormous threats while preserving or planting a measure of justice. Most of the societies in the book are highly hierarchical/collectivist. When reading _Nine Fox Gambit_ I thought of it as a Korean WarHammer 40K, but after reading these I think it's more accurate to say that they take a sort of historical, highly authoritarian Korean culture and bring it forward into the future, and that just happens to resemble 40K somewhat. Anyway, I enjoyed the stories, though they did not quite match up to _Nine Fox Gambit_. There is one story that is a mini-prequel to _Nine Fox Gambit_, and it was one of my favorites of the bunch and reminded me of just how good that setting is. Other honorable mentions include: Counting the Shapes (sweet), Iseul's Lexicon (nice burglary scene), and Between Two Dragons (fast and punchy).
Afterword:The collection has an Afterword section, which has notes on the various stories. I didn't like it! The author comes off as someone who would not be very fun in person, and confirms some of the less impressive seeds that I suspected for some of the stories. Also, she's wrong about Black Abacus. It's totally about sex!