Review of Yoon Ha Lee, “The Chameleon’s Gloves”, Uncanny Magazine Issue 41 (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Isabel Hinchliff.
You can never go too wrong with a swashbuckling space adventure. Two thieves (one exile with extraordinary lockpicking abilities and one pilot) are bribed and threatened into stealing a superweapon that could blow up thirty thousand light-years worth of space. It’s a wild ride with a fascinating and ingenious narrator at the helm.
My only complaint is that the ride was, perhaps, too wild. Our narrator, Rhehan, switches allegiances between factions several times, almost at the drop of a hat. The stakes (thirty thousand light-years worth of space!!) seem very high, and yet Rhehan is fairly nonchalant about playing hot potato with such a powerful weapon. I felt that in the kaleidoscopic narrative of shifting loyalties, Rhehan’s haunted past and history with their clan (one of the factions) was lost as a theme, only to return at the end as though we should have been following it the whole time. Overall, the story caught and held me, but I wondered if the complicated plot eclipsed some of the finer nuances of characterization.