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Extracurricular Activities

(The Machineries of Empire #0.5)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  1,109 ratings  ·  159 reviews
A space opera adventure set in a distant future where an undercover agent has to go behind enemy lines to recover a lost ship and a possible traitor.
ebook, 55 pages
Published February 15th 2017 by Tor Books
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Wealhtheow I think you'd appreciate it either way. The nice thing about reading it before Ninefox Gambit is it'll give you a little extra background on the socie…moreI think you'd appreciate it either way. The nice thing about reading it before Ninefox Gambit is it'll give you a little extra background on the society they work in, which is crazy complicated. The nice thing about reading it after is you'll already know where the short story's main character goes in his career, which adds some depth to seeing his past.(less)

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 ·  1,109 ratings  ·  159 reviews

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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Free online short story here at, which I'd only really recommend if you like at least two of these three: space opera, alternative sexuality and sex jokes. Review first posted at Fantasy Literature:

“Extracurricular Activities” is a prequel short story that’s part of Yoon Ha Lee’s THE MACHINERIES OF EMPIRE series, which begins with the novel Ninefox Gambit. In this space opera caper-type adventure, we follow one of the early exploits of Shuos Jedao, a character from Ninefox Gambit, while
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent, complexly-grounded short story.

But what WAS wrong with our protagonist's hair that made everyone stare at him?! Frustrating to never know.
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Jedao had a standard method for dealing with new commanders, which was to research them as if he planned to assassinate them. Needless to say, he never expressed it in those terms to his comrades.

I couldn't stop laughing.

[Edit: I must have read it almost ten times by now and every time I still find some new detail that makes me laugh. I love it so much.]
Reread at June 17th, 2018.
I am still high on Machineries of Empire. Moreover, it so happens that I have a buddy read on all Hugo nominated novelettes with two groups (yay) so I have a perfect excuse to play with Jedao again.

Now that's a fun story. Even for a reread. Set in the same 'verse of the Machineries of Empire series, this one is about Shuos Jedao in his younger days. Pure adventure with some hilarious undercover moments and banters. In a space station whose people duel using pathogens.
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Delightful. It must have been a joy to write: it felt like it was, anyway.

The small cultural details, the goose fat, Jedao's mother, everything. I laughed out loud more than once. It felt quite Bujold-esque (the pathogen duels reminded me of Cetaganda - the place more than the novel) but with a twist.
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This is a fun prequel to Lee's novels. I love Lee's narrative voice, and it's nice to see Jedao with less of the angst of his post-death existence. This is more like early Vorkosigan -- a hero smarter than anyone else in the room completing a tricky rescue mission without nearly enough backup. Not a whole lot of deep meaning to this one, but an enjoyable read. ...more
Allison Hurd
As I read Ninefox, I thought there must be a nice stack of fan fic for Jedao and his hosts or other trysts. Conveniently, the author provided us with one! A cute story, simple plot, lots of good background on the most interesting space assassin and, well, some serious shipping on this ship. Fun read!
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-fiction
A must read if you love Ninefox Gambit. A little bit of a caper, funny, and all about Jedao.
★★★★⭐ | Read here

"What am I supposed to do with this? he wondered. As a cadet he could have based a prank around it. But as a warmoth commander he had standards to uphold.

More importantly, how could he compose a suitably filial letter of appreciation without, foxes forbid, encouraging her to escalate? (Baked goods: fine. Goose fat: less fine.) Especially when she wasn’t supposed to know he was here in the first place? Some people’s families sent them care packages of useful things, like liquor,
4.5/5 Stars

Yoon Ha Lee has masterfully pulled off some literary sorcery to make me feel SO MUCH for a complex defector/assassin/eventually-unhinged conductor of massacre in such a short heist story. Loved getting to see Shuos Jedao in action before the events of Ninefox. He's an incredible character whose thought processes, charisma, and beautifully unerring ability to be confident in himself sheds so much light on his humanity. You can't write him off as a villainous, bloodthirsty character whe
Oleksandr Zholud
May 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
This novelette was nominated for Hugo in 2018
The story is set in the same universe as Ninefox Gambit novel, which was nominated for Hugo last year. I’ve read it and wasn’t impressed. While it can be read as a stand-alone, knowing the backstory definitely helps.
Shuos Jedao, spy/assassin of heptarchy (civilization obsessed with order and numerology) is sent on a mission to rescue his old friend from the outpost of another civilization, masked as a merchant. The story is easy to read and full of a
Apr 12, 2018 rated it did not like it
“Join the Shuos for an exciting future as a secret agent, assuming your classmates don’t kill you before you graduate.”

This was nominated for a Hugo? Perhaps a parody of space operas, but too many gaps and too much stilted syntax and punctuation to make easy reading. When the reader must stop and re-read every third sentence, something’s wrong.

“Wars come and go, but graffiti is forever.”

Oversexed special agents are de rigueur of more than just space opera, but the protagonist was unconvincing an
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
It’s intriguing seeing Shuos Jedao in his early days working for the heptarchate. Definitely dangerous, but at the same time, I found Jedao funny. The story’s fairly quick, and has whetted my appetite for books 2 and 3.
Aug 08, 2017 rated it liked it
This didn't grab me as much as the description did. I liked Yoon Ha Lee's style though- I'm going to try Ninefox Gambit next! ...more
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Never read anything by this author, so I cheated a little and read the blurb of the first book of this series, Ninefox Gambit. Just the blurb.

“Hello! I am a cross-dressing enemy agent, pleased to make your aquaintance.“

I like Jedao, I like the humour, the action sequences are well done and the interactions are believable. Good character development. I might have to add Ninefox Gambit to my want-to-read pile. The world building was good, I want to find out more about the various societies and cul
Peter Tillman
Very entertaining new short story in the Ninefox Gambit Universe. The lighter, younger side of Jedao, the Legendary Undead General. Goose fat is involved. Read it! Story link: Marked for a priority reread.

Now a nominee for the 2018 Hugo Award for Best Novelette. Here are links for all the 2018 Hugo nominees:
Oct 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Long before Shuos Jedao was the most infamous strategist in the hexarchy, he was just an extraordinarily talented soldier. In this short story, he's sent on a mission to retrieve a lost crew of spies, one of whom is his old friend from Shuos Academy. It's kinda painful to read about him at this stage, knowing what he'll become.

If you enjoyed the early Miles Vorkosigan or Ender's Game books, you might very well like this adventure.

A freebie Locus-nominated novelette on, I picked this space romp because it was set in the same hexarchate universe at Ninefox Gambit, which I'm fixing to buddy read over the summer. So short stories are always a way to dive in and test the waters. Besides, I've read and quite enjoyed Yoon Ha Lee's works.

"Extracurricular Activities" was no exception - well written, immersive world building, interesting characters. There's kinky sex jokes in addition to the infiltration and espionage of
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
What I loved about this short story is how it showcases Yoon Ha Lee’s sense of subversive humour. While a lot has been written (gushed?) about how formidable and experimental The Machineries of Empire sequence is, it is also slyly, and often blackly, funny. I am never going to think of Jedao again without recalling the application of goose fat from this.
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love this. Soooo funny. Like some kind of whack ass modern Harry Harrison/Ron Goulart MilSF. SpecOps commander / whatever the fuck Jedao goes on a rescue mission, flirting all the while w a big sexy space marine from one of the ships he's given for the mission. ...more
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was wonderful. Everything I never knew I wanted from this universe. Definitely give it a go if you enjoyed Ninefox Gambit or even if you didn’t. Funny, witty, light hearted, but with the same intelligence of the books.
Sami Sundell
A short story set long before Ninefox Gambit, detailing Shuos Jedao on a rescue mission in potentially hostile territory.

The story is a fun read, but there are lots of things that seem to be just thrown there - starting with goose fat. Don't take it wrong: writing is solid, there's good-natured humor and the plot works well. At the same time, I feel it could've been shorter or it could've been longer, but at this size, those small things are just left there without true meaning.

Extracurricular A
May 25, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a fun short set in Shuos Jedao's early career: as a junior Kel officer with Shuos background, he's asked to lead a rescue mission when a vessel is captured by the neighbouring Gwa An Reality.

As a sort-of precursor to Ninefox, it's not a brilliant introduction to the series or Jedao himself; as a companion short, it's an entertaining-to-silly spy caper with a raucous sense of humour and a lot of flirting and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Full review
Jan 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Nice short story that sheds some light on the early military career of Shuos Jedao, the central figure in Yoon Ha Lee's The Machineries of Empire series. Although this could be read as a standalone, I think it would be of most interest to fans of the series. ...more
Jul 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: hugo-2018
Set in the same universe as Ninefox Gambit and focusing on the early days of one of its characters, this story has at least two things the book doesn't: a bit of humor and a relatively simple plot. I like the idea of pathogen duels, but otherwise this is probably going to appeal mostly to fans of Lee's Machineries of Empire series looking for more back story. ...more
Sara J. (kefuwa)
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Having read the Machineries of Empire trilogy I found this short a nice look into Jedao's past. Younger Jedao is interesting to say the least! Haha.

Keywords: Goose fat, biological duels, cadet training days.

Date first read: 13jan2019
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Yoon Ha Lee could probably write a shopping list and it would be one of the best things I've read all year. A short story about Jedao is just a bonus as far as I'm concerned. ...more
Heni Akbar
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, 5-stars
“You’d be surprised at the things I know how to do,” Jedao said.

Allah, this man is so hard to resist *melted*
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
HIGHLY enjoyable and highly recommended. Dastardly spies in space.
May 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: hugo
3.5ish stars.
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Yoon Ha Lee is an American science fiction writer born on January 26, 1979 in Houston, Texas. His first published story, “The Hundredth Question,” appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1999; since then, over two dozen further stories have appeared. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Other books in the series

The Machineries of Empire (3 books)
  • Ninefox Gambit
  • Raven Stratagem
  • Revenant Gun

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