An Interview with KAMERON HURLEY

HurleyK-AuthorPic2019Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Kameron Hurley?

Honestly, I just got back from a book tour and am severely jetlagged, so I couldn’t really tell you. James S.A. Corey says I’m “one of the most important voices in the field”, though! That’s something. Always listen to the Coreys.

Your new book, Meet Me in the Future, will be published by Tachyon. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?  

Meet Me in the Future is a collection of my best short fiction to date. It’s got everything: a body-hopping mercenary who avenge his pet elephant, an orphan who falls in love with a sentient starship, fighters who power a reality-bending engine, and a swamp-dwelling introvert who tries to save the world from her plague-casting former wife. And that’s just off the top of my head. I wrote many of these stories with the support of my Patreon backers, and these are the best gems of the lot. Continue reading

New Books (March-April)

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Featuring: David Annandale, Marie Arana, Elizabeth Bear, Oliver Bullough, Peter Cleave, Paul French, Kameron Hurley, Phil Kelly, R.F. Kuang, Owen Laukkanen, Peter McLean, Josh Reynolds, Jack Skillingstead, Sherwood Smith, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Lavie Tidhar, Kali Wallace, David Wellington, Jin Yong

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Upcoming: LIGHT BRIGADE by Kameron Hurley (Angry Robot/Saga Press)

HurleyK-LightBrigadeThat just might be the most dazzling cover I’ve seen in a while: it’s bright, attention-grabbing and just a little bit blinding… While I haven’t read as much of Kameron Hurley‘s work as I would like, I have enjoyed everything that’s crossed my path so far (I would especially recommend the Bel Dame series). I think The Light Brigade is a stand-alone novel, and it sounds pretty cool:

The corporate corps transform their soldiers into light to travel between interplanetary battlegrounds. Most grunts make it in one piece, though some don’t, and others come back… different. Fresh infantry recruit, Dietz, is keen to fight and claim her corporate citizenship, but when she’s busted into light it seems like her combat drops are out of sync with everyone else’s. Is Dietz experiencing the war differently, or is it combat stress bending her mind? As she struggles to untangle her timeline, Dietz glimpses a very different war than in the corporate propaganda – one that needs a hero, or maybe a villain – truth is the first casualty of war.

The Light Brigade is due to be published by Saga Press in North America (March 2019) and Angry Robot Books in the UK (April 2019).

Also on CR: Guest Post on “And the World Turned Gray: Gritty vs. Classic Heroes”; Review of God’s War

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

New Books (January-February)

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Featuring: Stephen Aryan, Associated Press, Ray Bradbury, Christopher Buckley, Karen Cleveland, Craig DiLouie, Thoraiya Dyer, Raymond E. Feist, Kameron Hurley, Luke Jennings, Charles Johnson, Shilo Jones, Robert Karjel, Lisa Klink, Snorri Kristjansson, R.F. Kuang, Rachel Kushner, Jonathan Lynn, Claire O’Dell, David Pedreira, Terry Pratchett, Jeffrey Rosen, R.A. Salvatore, Gavin Scott, Jeremy C. Shipp, Charles Stross, Tom Sweterlitsch, RJ Theodore, Matt Wallace, Jesmyn Ward

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New Books (February #2)

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Featuring: Nick Aires, Jesse Armstrong, David Baldacci, Adam Christopher, Sebastien de Castell, David Downing, Mark Andrew Ferguson, Matthew Glass, Daryl Gregory, Austin Grossman, Randy Henderson, Antonia Honeywell, Kameron Hurley, Ben Kane, Dennis Lehane, Evie Manieri, D.J. Molles, Benjamin Percy, Tamora Pierce, Christopher Reich, Loren Rhoads, Anthony Ryan, V.E. Schwab, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Simon K. Unsworth, Jen Williams, Jonathan Wood Continue reading

Upcoming: THE MIRROR EMPIRE by Kameron Hurley (Angry Robot Books)

I’m a little late to the party, here, seeing as nearly everyone has shared this cover (ever since it was unveiled on A Dribble of Ink). And, once you look at it, you can see why. The cover for Kameron Hurley’s upcoming fantasy novel THE MIRROR EMPIRE is pretty damned stunning…

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The piece is by Richard Anderson, who also did the US cover for Brian Staveley’s The Emperor’s Blades. (I must say, though, this one is much better.) The novel is due to be published by Angry Robot Books in September 2014. Here’s the synopsis…

On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.

In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin. As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.

Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.

In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.

Kameron Hurley is, of course, the award-winning author of God’s War, Infidel and Rapture. I’ve only read the first one, but it was damned good. The trilogy was published in the US by Night Shade Books, and Del Rey UK published the first book last year, and Infidel last month.

Also on CR: Guest Post by Kameron Hurley; Review of God’s War

Guest Post: “And the World Turned Gray: Gritty vs. Classic Heroes” by Kameron Hurley

KameronHurley-AuthorPicKameron Hurley is an award-winning writer and freelance copywriter who grew up in Washington State. She is the author of the book God’s War, Infidel, and Rapture, and her short fiction has appeared in magazines such Lightspeed, EscapePod, and Strange Horizons, and anthologies such as The Lowest Heaven and Year’s Best SF.

Also on CR: Review of God’s War

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Peake-GormenghastI’ll sometimes hear folks musing about where the “gritty” hero came from. And though you’ll get a lot of knee-jerk responses of the “Well, it’s a reaction to traditional goody-goody heroes,” I’d argue, in fact, that gritty, unlikeable heroes have been around a lot longer than you’d think. Gormenghast wasn’t exactly full of heroes. It was full of idiots and backstabbers. We just didn’t celebrate them. They were funny.

Oh, sure, what littered the shelves as I was growing up in the ’80s and ’90s were indeed mostly traditional sorts, I suppose. But there were notable exceptions – Jennifer Roberson’s Tiger, Mary Gentle’s Ash, and let’s face it, you know, Conan wasn’t a sweetheart fun dude.

Hobb-1-AssasinsApprenticeUKBut the hero who broke all the rules – who didn’t really save the world, who didn’t get the girl that tore me up the most – was Fitz in Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice. I’d argue Hobb’s semi-tragic hero, who did not slay the dragon or win a kingdom (even Joe Abercrombie’s characters sometimes win a kingdom) or run off with the love of their life, was among the first to start the shift toward a hero who was a bit more gray, a bit more complex, and whose end was a lot less predictable than most. Fitz was the Catalyst. He was the person great events moved around. He was not the active agent. Only the spark.

In truth, on looking at a lot of fantasy heroes and heroines of the past, what I found had changed most between, say 1970 and 2004 wasn’t the level of grit or gritty. After all, there was a lot of dark, messed up stuff going on in the New Wave (The Stars My Destination, for a brief departure into SF-land, was hardly full of nice people). Instead, what changed was this idea that the good guys were always going to win. That the Big Bad would be defeated. So you got heroes like Fitz, and KJ Bishop’s war-wrecked veterans, who, it could be argued, often did more harm than good. Maureen McHugh writes complex characters whose endings always tend to be ambiguous, sort of non-endings, more abrupt halts than tying up all the loose ends.

What we’re falling in love with, over time, isn’t necessarily the grittiest jerk with a sword – we had Conan for that. What began to happen is that we craved more complexity in our stories. And with complexity comes a good deal of ugliness. The bad guys sometimes win. Sometimes it’s not even clear who the bad guys are. Oh, sure, folks wrote dark, complex fiction prior to when the term “grimdark” popped up, but grimdark – tragedy, complexity, brutality – of this type has been especially sought after from the early 2000’s. Just as New Weird started becoming a Named Thing, the dark fantasy writers were beginning to get more attention, too.

ME3_Cover_ArtIt’s been interesting to watch video games go through this same tilt toward the more complex, the tragic. I sobbed my way through Mass Effect 3, while the galaxy was being destroyed around me. And… I found it deeply cathartic. But… why? What are these complex stories giving me that fluffier, more comfortable stuff isn’t?

I’d argue this love of the grim and complex isn’t just about the maturity of an art form, but a reflection of the times we live in. The United States has been at constant war since 2001. That’s thirteen years of war. That kind of war – even one conducted on far shores, and brutally ignored in our media – seeps into everything. The world looks a lot more complex when you’re fighting in residential areas and sending drones to blow up wedding parties, doesn’t it?

Our fiction, the stories we were interested in, changed too. Because war gets into your bones. Veterans come home. The war they fought not only affects them, but everyone around them. It bleeds into everything.

And that seepage is nothing compared to the grim reality faced by those whose countries we waged war in.

So when people tell me that the rise of gritty, complex fiction is a reaction against traditional heroes, or something only aliened teen boys read, I can’t help but sigh. Because I’m seeing the desire for grim stories from another angle. From the position of a people who perpetuate violence on others but have very little experience of violence. People struggling to figure out who the good guy is, because, increasingly, as they look in the mirror they realize that it isn’t as clear as it once we.

We look for ourselves in our stories. It’s how we make sense of the world.

The gritty and traditional heroes are products of their times. We used to believe we were right. We’d always win. The world was black and white. As the world is split wide open with greater access to information and instant communication, many are waking up to that fact.

It’s the gray heroes we see – the ones who don’t always win. The ones who bring more war than peace. Who solve disagreements with brutality. With force. And fear. And fault.

We see ourselves.

And we’re not traditional heroes.

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Kameron’s God’s War, Infidel and Rapture are published by Night Shade Books in the US and Del Rey in the UK (only God’s War has been released so far in the UK).

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US Covers

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UK Cover (Paperback) for God’s War