Kameron Hurley’s fascinating and gritty APOCALYPSE NYX entertains
With a few months before publication, Kameron Hurley’s forthcoming APOCALYPSE NYX continues to garner a lot of attention.
At PURPLE OWL REVIEWS, Rachel Noel praises the collection.
This is an incredibly interesting world. Because all native men are required to be on the front for several years while the women are only required there for two years, it makes sense that the majority of the characters are strong women. When there are men, more often than not they’re foreigners not required to sign up for the draft. There is bug-based magic and technology which, honestly, makes sense given how many bugs there seem to be. And the logic of the world feels very consistent.
Nyx is an incredibly kick-ass character, better at shooting than talking her way out, which is one of my favorite kind of protagonists. It’s not that she has a heart of ice, rather she has a very calloused heart after all that she’s had to see and endure. Her sniper, Anneke, is more of a wild kind of crazy, complete with a drug problem. Her magician, Rhys, is a Chenjan man who only puts up with Nyx because Chenjans don’t have many options, but he maintains his religious devotions. Her tech, Taite, is a scrawny Ras Tiegan teenager. Her shifter, Khos, is a rather large Mhorian who is just about desperate for work. Together, they make for an entertaining team to read about.
Fair warning, this ain’t a book for the faint of heart. It’s a world where there is constant war, frequent sirens warning of bombardments, and bodies regrowing limbs just to be sent back to the front. And the way those limbs are regrown are somewhat stomach upsetting. This book has plenty of fun moments, but it is has a lot of darker ones. That last chapter ended on a heart-wrenching note.
That being said, I’m still gonna look into the other books of the series. 4 hoots!
FANGS FOR THE FANTASY lauds the book.
We also have a really really fascinating world, a mix of sci-fi and magic – and the whole idea of magic involvinDesign by Elizabeth Storyg insects and the way this works with technology and the general blending of it into society is incredibly well done (and I love that, i love how magic/sci-fi elements are not just used for the big showy stuff but also work for the day to day lives of everyone in the world, fascinating and just makes me want to investigate more of this world and kinda poke the author with a stick – because how do you even come up with this? *poke poke*.
On top of this we have a fascinatingly diverse world. Nearly everyone in this book are POC, though they are not on Earth and direct analogues are not easy, it feels Nasheen is made up of people of Middle Eastern Descent (including Nyx herself) while the country they’re at war with, Chejan (Rhys’s nation) are Black people. We have other nations mentioned which don’t feature prominently but there’s also an interesting addressing of mixed-race characters and how they meld or adopt different aspects of their nations cultures. I also appreciate that, even with the short story format, there is still some really excellent world building of these related nations. This is also reflected in the clothing – Nyx most often wears burnouse and dhoti.
The primary religion of both the warring nations is Islam – or Islam based – with characters who have varying degrees of faithfulness and adherence: from Rhys who doesn’t drink and observes the daily prayers and Nyx’s sister who covers (but it’s also intriguing how Islam has adapted to their new world – like covering is not as much about modesty as it is about not being seared by the powerful suns. I like how culture and faith are still very recognisable but alien planets and shores and the passing of time have also shifted things.
The culture of Nasheen is also very matriarchal – I don’t that’s a positive feminist thing intentionally here but part of the tragedy of this country mired in war. Men literally spend decades in the military from at least the age of 16 while women spend less time in the military inevitably leaving civilian society with few men in it. From heads of families, to Imams to teams of mercenaries, to the infamous Belle Dames, to police are all women. Most commonly any male characters, including men on Nyx’s team, are non-Nasheenian, exempt from the draft but as foreigners in a society that isn’t exactly welcoming to foreigners, not having high rank or influence.
In all – I love this world, I love these stories… I… don’t love these characters. That’s fine, I’m not supposed to love Nyx. It’s fascinating to read, and at times quite fun to read but also very gritty and grim. I love this book and want to read all the books in it for the whole series. I also don’t want to read them back to back because the perfect, unrelenting grimness of it may make for hard reading book after book.
Nelson McKeeby on his THE WORLD OF VIRDEA enjoys his first encounter with Nyx.
I picked up APOCALYPSE NYX by Kameron Hurley as part of my research into the direction of post modern writing and found a book that channels my old, dusty favorites by Nyx Smith.
Nyx Smith, if anyone still remembers this author, wrote a series of books for the Shadowrun role playing game. Unlike most Shadowrun books, which were distinctly vanilla in tone and written to a simple plot model, Smith’s works were simmering extravaganzas of character, plot, violence, and betrayal that just happened to be set in the crazy enough world of Shadowrun. The novels were so good they developed a distinct crowd of haters; a no good author knows they have arrived until the haters from a faction against their very existence. The problem with the series is that with the eclipse of Shadowrun, no more will likely ever be published.
Enter Nyx (no relation to Nyx Smith), short for Nyxnissa so Dasheem. This character is a Chigurhian terror and a pitiless killing machine, not my type at all, but done in a refreshing way that makes me long for the days of Striper Assassin. Although chronicled in other books, I was right at home immediately with Kameron Hurley’s universe, which has enough detail to make the biggest grognard smile but is easy to get comfortable in. The main thing I like about the books though is how easy the author gives us missions that combined equal a novel, without ever feeling we are just living in a short story contestants attempt to sell long format. The stories seem more like episodes in a series than short treatments, which makes me enjoy the piece more than works such as you used to find in the Hammer Slammer vein.
As for the relationship the writing has to my old favorite; I can tell I will be buying more of Hurley’s works because whatever limits their are to Nyx, there are no limits to the universe Ms. Hurley creates. My first experience was well worth the cost.
For more info on APOCALYPSE NYX, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Wadim Kashin
Design by Elizabeth Story