Tina S Beier
Meet in the Future (Book Review)
This ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Short stories usually aren’t my genre of choice, but I love Kameron Hurley’s writing. She didn’t disappoint! These stories are imaginative, exciting, quick-paced and full of the visceral descriptions of violence and human (or alien) anatomy that are her marker. As with her novels, there are feminist overtones to her stories and inclusive takes on gender and sexuality. The collection is at times poignant, at others emotional, generally thought-provoking, and always entertaining.
Some of the stories interweave or take place in the settings of her novels, but this shouldn’t prevent newcomers from reading – while I enjoyed seeing more of the world from The Stars are Legion, I haven’t read all her books so they only made me want to seek these out.
The tales share a lot of the same themes – disablement, betrayal, sacrifice, people being controlled/held down by those in power, xenophobia, false history, and war. Not only that, but the majority of the characters are female or female-identifying. The fantastic thing about Hurley’s characters are that these women aren’t all young, beautiful, intelligent (what female protagonists seem to have to be). Her women are ugly, stupid, selfish, old, career-focused, mothers, sisters, lovers. They are, as women are in real life, varied and complex. You can identify with almost all of them on some level. It’s a powerful, poignant collection.
In truth, while I give this collection 4 stars, the best stories are in the first half. It’s possible I was fatigued by the time I reached the end (because Hurley’s writing can sometimes be a mental exercise to understand the worlds she creates), but my favorites were the stories with Nev (“Elephants and Corpses” and “The Fisherman and Pig”). I wish those had been novels! I also very much enjoyed: “When We Fall”, “The Red Secretary”, “War of Heroes”, “Warped Passages”, “Tumbledown”, and “The Light Brigade”. I found “Enyo-Enyo” and “The Corpse Archives” the least interesting (perhaps because I had trouble following them). The rest were solid stories I enjoyed but they either moved too quickly, their theme was a little obvious, or what she was attempting didn’t work for me.
Either way, I appreciate the ARC from NetGalley and I will be buying this collection!