APOCALYPSE NYX is the new collection of novelettes from multi-award-winning author Kameron Hurley (The Stars are Legion, the Worldbreaker Saga, and the God’s War Trilogy), and make no mistake: it’s grimdark AF. Set in the world of the God’s War Trilogy, the stories’ titular anti-hero, mercenary and bounty hunter, Nyx (Nyxnissa so Dasheen) might be the grimmest darkest badass protagonist I’ve come across in SFF. With maybe an exception or two, she doesn’t give a crap about anything but the job and the money, and maybe the whisky… and maybe the fucking.
The magic, violence, action, and twisting plots are great in their own right, but these are character-driven stories ferociously propelled by Nyx’s fierce and implacable personality. She can move from wanting to fuck Khos to killing him for the job in a heartbeat. She admires Rhys’s delicate features and devout nature but he’s just a Chenjan deserter and if he doesn’t like the work, he can fuck off. Rhys serves as her unwanted moral conscience and she hates him for that. Her best mate is Anneke because she is always ready with the guns and the whisky even if she is always way too wasted and nearly gets them all killed in a drug-induced psychotic outburst. Nyx’s love-hate relationships with her messed up crew and herself provides full-depth intellectual and emotional stimulation on top of the insane plots and twists of these compelling though somewhat conventional conflicts. Yes, the stories and the way they are plotting are extremely engaging, but you are definitely reading about Nyx in this book and what she actually does provides the backdrop on which Hurley paints a truly fascinating and absurdly screwed up character. It is not the high concept SFF that her award-winning and excellent novel The Stars Are Legion is, but I happen to love successful character-driven fiction, and this is primarily the reason I absolutely love APOCALYPSE NYX and intend to purchase God’s War as soon as I catch up on my reviews.
I usually talk about themes in reviews because I think they contribute to what the reader takes away from a book. Forget about it. Just let APOCALYPSE NYX blow you away with its deep portrayal of a person in constant intellectual and moral crisis, and don’t worry about what it means. You will be immersed in love, lust, hate, revenge, desire, and will question the value of human life. You will empathize with Nyx for her faults yet be appalled at her lack of human conscience. It’s a heady mix and entertaining as hell.
Is it grimdark? You bet your ass it is. Try not to root for Nyx as she blasts away innocents who happen to be in the way of the next payoff. It’s impossible. And the question of grey morality itself makes a couple of unobtrusive appearances in the stories and in the delightful banter between her crew of freaks. If you’re reading this review, then you obviously appreciate grimdark. Grab this nice introduction to Nyx’s life and world. You won’t regret it. Most highly recommended.
The translated The Stars Are Legion is a finalist for the 2018 Ignotus Awards, given annually to the best Spanish science fiction and fantasy publications.
- Behind Their Eyes by Sarah Pinborough (ed. Alianza)
- The Archive of Atrocities by Charles Stross (ed. Unusual)
- Fuego by Joe Hill (ed. Nocturna)
- The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin (ed. B)
- The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley (ed. Alianza)
Congrats to all the finalists.
The new episode of Hurley’s monthly rant/podcast GET TO WORK HURLEY is available for your listening pleasure.
EPISODE NINE: Real talk about why women in every industry are done with the bullshit, why it’s OK to delete Facebook (yes, even if you have books to promote!), writing and mental health, and some advance craft discussions about how to manage burnout and writing expectations.
Hurley contributed the article “On Patience, Goal-Setting, and Gardening” to the June 2018 issue of LOCUS.
What all of this work has taught me are lessons I sorely need repeated: the importance of planning, goal setting, and patience. We want everything all at once in our culture. We want our first book to sell millions. We want our first job to lead us to greatness. We want everything now, immediately. To have to wait, to toil for it, can make us frustrated. But the truth is that there are so many things we simply won’t ever achieve unless we strive to complete them a piece at a time, like this garden. If, standing in the middle of those lots, I thought about all the time and money it would take and just gave up, I would never be standing in this garden, amazed to have taken a vision from my head and made it into a tangible thing.
And so it is with writing a difficult book. The toil can be frustrating and intense. There are times when you feel alone and disheartened. You feel you’ll die before you finish.
It’s the ability to envision something that doesn’t exist, that, perhaps, makes us believe in the act of creation. I’ve learned that the trick of seeing past what is to what may be isn’t necessarily a trait shared by everyone. Watching a few episodes of House Hunters will demonstrate that effectively. Imagination is a skill that must be honed and sharpened like any other. I’ve found myself leaning hard on my imagination more recently, trying to imagine my way out of a future that seems increasingly bleak.
Have you entered the Kameron Hurley’s APOCALYPSE NYX Sweepstakes?
For more info on APOCALYPSE NYX, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Wadim Kashin
Design by Elizabeth Story