Kameron Hurley’s bloody-knuckled space noir APOCALYPSE NYX is your favorite action TV series in book form
The book is a collection of short stories set between the first and second books of the Bel Dame Apocrypha series, following mercenary Nyx and her team as they complete a series of dangerous and ethically questionable jobs. Hurley delivers short, sharp tales of investigation and inevitable show-down in a format reminiscent of a case-of-the-week TV detective show. The characters and setting of the narratives complement this format, leaning heavily on pulpy tropes that made both golden age science fiction and detective stories shine. Each story gets quickly to the point and is full to bursting with action scenes.
As with all of Hurley’s work, her biggest strength lies in her fearlessness. She doesn’t shy away from the provocative but neither does her work feel like it touches on these issues just for effect. Sex is dealt with in frank, honest terms – with women’s sexuality at the fore. Transgender and non-binary identifying characters appear with little fanfare, making them a normal part of that world. All these things Hurley covers without batting an eyelid. Few writers are so brave.
Nyxnissa, Hurley’s mercenary protagonist, is also refreshingly brazen in construction. Very often, writers hesitate to have characters that could be considered as traditionally unlikable as Nyx. Not only is she deeply flawed – she lacks self-awareness and compassion, she’s stubborn and cruel – but she is also lacking in certain skills. Nyx is not gifted at absolutely everything like far too many ‘heroes’. Instead, she’s given consistent and interesting flaws that require her to think quickly and respond in different ways.
Verdict: If your favourite action TV series were distilled in book form, this would be it. Not for the faint of heart, APOCALYPSE NYX unapologetically pulls you along for the ride.
From THE ILLUSTRATED PAGE:
Otherwise, I’ll certainly be reading APOCALYPSE NYX by Kameron Hurley this month. I’m so excited for this short story collection!
In Playing Favorites with the Clarke Award Shortlists, 1987-2018, Alasdair Stuart at TOR.COM discusses the first book of Hurley’s Bel Dame Apocrypha trilogy, God’s War.
And last, but by no means least, God’s War by Kameron Hurley was shortlisted for the Clarke in 2014. Hurley, like Atwood, doesn’t know how to turn in bad work. Her books are shot through with savage humour, brutal violence, relentless pragmatism, and a cheerful willingness to do the thing the reader is least expecting. That’s true of everything I’ve read of Hurley’s, starting with her the first book of her Bel Dame Apocrypha trilogy, God’s War.
Nyx is a former Bel Dame, a government assassin on a world that’s locked into a centuries-old holy war. Nyx is very good at not dying. She’s arguably better at making other people die. She’s very bad at following orders—which makes her the perfect choice for a mission that’s as vital as it is terrifying and almost impossible.
Hurley drops you in at the deep end, here, and it’s glorious. Within the first fifty pages, you’ve been introduced to the world, the bug-powered technology that drives it, the negotiable nature of biology, and everything that you need to know about Nyx, her team, and her profoundly flexible morals. It’s intoxicating, overbearing, and refuses to let you go, so you dive further in. A few hundred pages later, the novel lets you resurface having explored the horrors of Nyx’s world, the people who she chooses (and the few who choose) to stand with her, and the terrible choices she’s continually forced to make. Sand-blasted, bloody-knuckled space noir, the Bel Dame Apocrypha novels are unlike anything else I’ve read and God’s War is just the beginning. The new Nyx collection, APOCALYPSE NYX, will be out this summer, and there’s never been a better time to catch the former Bel Dame in action.
For more info on APOCALYPSE NYX, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Wadim Kashin
Design by Elizabeth Story