The reviews keep coming for Kameron Hurley’s APOCALYPSE NYX.
David Wood for NEW YORK JOURNAL OF BOOKS praises the collection.
Apocalypse Nyx is a collection of five novellas that take place in the universe of Hurley’s Bel Dame Apocrypha series. The stories read as a series of vignettes, something akin to a Netflix series based on a movie. The stories are well paced, with enough connections to lend a sense of cohesiveness to the collection. It’s not necessary to have read the companion trilogy in order to enjoy these stories. There are universe-specific terms to pick up on (trucks are bakkies, coffee is buni), and details about the world that must be learned inductively, but it doesn’t take long to become fully immersed in Nyx’s universe.
The world Hurley has crafted is as fascinating and engrossing as it is horrifying, with elements of cyberpunk, and fantasy sprinkled atop a generous portion of science fiction. Nyx’s desert planet home bakes beneath the heat of twin suns is ravaged by centuries of Holy War, the cause long forgotten. Bugs are integrated into technology, including radios and trucks. Human bodies can be rebuilt, Frankenstein-style, or a person can be given a new body altogether. Hurley also incorporates elements of magic, including shapeshifting, lending the story a touch of the fantastic, but retaining the gritty, apocalyptic fantasy feel.
Hurley does a solid job of reflecting many of our own current societal issues and tensions in her writing, including gender roles, sexual fluidity, and racial schisms. The culture is heavily influenced by Islam, and the never-ending cycle of war is sadly familiar. Hurley does not pontificate on any topic, unlike certain sci-fi classics, but instead paints a picture upon which the reader can reflect.
Apocalypse Nyx is grim, unapologetic science fiction at its best. Don’t miss this gripping collection!
STRANGE ALLIANCES enjoys the “comfort” read.
Nyx is a brilliantly imagined character. She is full-on, ruthless, outrageous, but this merely reflects the unforgiving war-ridden world she lives in. To those on the outside of her inner circle Nyx appears uncouth and very unpleasant. To her crew she is equally verbally unsavoury, but they know she is also someone they can rely on, particularly when it comes to straight talking and not leaving any man or woman behind.
To say this book is one of my comfort reads might seem strange, but each story played out in my head like a film in which there is much to take in visually, as well as the superb banter between Nyx’s surrogate family. The first story had me so sold on Nyx and her motley crew, I just wanted to take time out and enjoy their adventures. I hope this is not the last I read of Nyx.
Hurley recently participated in a Reddit AMA.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers who want a more inclusive and diverse cast? As a straight white-dude, there’s numerous things outside my experience—which is fine, writing and reading are how I learn about others—but if there was a common pitfall you see writers make when making their cast include POC, women, LGBTQIA, or just not a protagonist who is a rogue-ish white guy in his thirties with dark hair and a bit of a drinking problem, what would it be?
Talk to people different than you are. If you’re in some homogenous place, hey, Youtube exists for good reason. Listen to people who aren’t like you. Take the same approach to learning about people with different cultural and sexual backgrounds as you would to those with different academic and employment backgrounds. You don’t spend ten minutes of research into writing a neuroscientist. I spent 8 years researching the God’s War universe, and I still got shit wrong. Accept that yeah, you will fuck up, but do the work. Get as close as you can. Listen to real criticism. Learn from it, and do better next time.
What’s your take on the feminist debate over the inclusion of trans women in “women”-only spaces?
Trans women are women.
Straight (!) answer appreciated.
What is the very best dessert?
Booze. Gin, peaty whisky.
For TOR.COM, Hurley listed Five Books That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity.
It’s a grim, grim world out there, folks. The bad news is… Well, all the bad news is the bad news. That’s not a shocker. I won’t repeat it.
If you’re still reading this, you know why.
Humanity’s ancient obsession with battles between the darkness and the light, good and evil, exist because human beings so neatly encapsulate both. We are capable of great cruelty and horror, especially in large groups. Yet, we are also capable of great kindness and awe-inspiring collaborative works. These are the battles we fight—as individuals, as parties, as nations—the constant war between our best selves and our worst impulses. It’s why these conflicts are so pervasive in the stories we tell across every medium.
As you’ll discover based on the books I’ve chosen for this list, I’m a big fan of the “ragtag team of misfits” novel. Perhaps this is because I know that everything we’ve gotten done as human beings—whether that’s getting to the moon or the genocide of millions—has only been possible through the passionate, messy collaboration of ordinary humans trying to achieve something wonderful or terrible.
My fascination with group dynamics is likely why I wrote my own team of head-chopping adventurers in APOCALYPSE NYX, and why such books have a special place in my heart. My protagonists engage in the best and worst humanity has to offer. But for today, let’s concentrate on the good.
Humans can be good.
For more info on APOCALYPSE NYX, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Wadim Kashin
Design by Elizabeth Story