Solaris Books Has Acquired a New Novel by Yoon Ha Lee

The Bookseller reports that Solaris Books has acquired a new novel by Yoon Ha Lee, Phoenix Extravagant, and that it’ll go on sale in the UK in June.

The Bookseller describes Phoenix Extravagant as a “fantasy version of Japanese-occupied Korea.” There’s no word on a US release date.

On Friday, SciFiNow unveiled the novel’s cover:

Here’s the book’s description:

Gyen Jebi isn’t a fighter or a subversive. Just an artist. One day they’re jobless and desperate; the next, Jebi finds themself recruited by the Ministry of Armor to paint the mystical sigils that animate the occupying government’s automaton soldiers.

But when Jebi discovers the depths of the Razanei government’s horrifying crimes—and the awful source of the magical pigments they use—they find they can no longer stay out of politics. What they can do is steal Arazi, the ministry’s mighty dragon automaton, and find a way to fight.

Lee tells me that he “spent six months reading every Korean art history and archaeology book in sight as research for this book,” and that he decided to make his “protagonist a nonbinary painter although I am currently unaware of any tradition of nonbinary people in Korean culture of the time.”

“It’s hard to tell for sure due to the language barrier (I’m not
fluent in Korean) and I was afraid to ask my mom, my usual source, because she’s a bit old-fashioned. Traditional Korean culture is very Confucian and dominated by men, but that was something I changed in my fantasy Korea because I didn’t want to write about a relentlessly sexist society, so I have nonbinary people and women participating equally in society.”

Lee has earned considerable acclaim for his work in recent years. He published his first short story in 1999 (The Hundredth Question, in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction), and has published dozens of short stories since (including, as a disclaimer, a short story in an anthology that I edited, Warhosts) in publications such as Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Lightspeed Magazine, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com (Extracurricular Activities, Variations on an Apple, Combustion Hour, and A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel). In 2013, he released a collection of short fiction, Conservation of Shadows.

In 2016, he released his debut novel through Solaris, Ninefox Gambit, and followed up with two sequels, Raven Stratagem and Revenant Gun. Last year, he published Dragon Pearl, a YA novel from Rick Riordan Presents and a collection of short stories, Hexachate Stories. Ninefox Gambit earned the Locus Award for Best First Novel (it was also nominated for the Hugo and Arthur C. Clarke awards), and his other works been finalists or have have earned nominations for the British Science Fiction Association, Clarke, Hugo, Nebula and Sturgeon, awards.

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