Tag Archives: kameron hurley

The Light Brigade

Unknown.jpegI’m going to make the call: this is the best Kameron Hurley book yet. And I say that as a very big fan of Nyxnissa.

This is… something else. Something outstanding as a narrative, as a commentary, as a work of art.

First let me note that this is not exactly a linear narrative, since I know that will put off some readers. It’s not exactly not linear, either… depending on what frame of reference you use. And yes, if I explain that, it will involve spoilers.

The story is set some time in the future – probably a century or so? Humans have been to Mars, and apparently we’ve also got so fed up with democracies (or been so conned) that Earth is now ruled by mega-corps, where you have to earn the right to be a citizen. And now there’s a war, and enlisting seems like a good way both to earn citizenship (Starship Troopers?) and to get back at the enemy for their atrocities. So that’s what Dietz does, and then the soldiers get broken into light in order to be transported more swiftly, and then weird things start to happen: but only to Dietz.

There’s a huge amount going on here.

There’s the relative merits of democracy, capitalist-authoritarianism, and socialism. There’s war and its impact, in sympathetic and horrific detail; the value of citizenship, the value of life, the use of propaganda and the importance of time…. For a fast-paced military SF novel, Hurley (unsurprisingly) packs a vicious amount of political (in its broadest sense) commentary in.

Plus there’s the evolving character of Dietz, as we delve deeper into back story and follow events and watch, sometimes horrified, as Dietz responds. I don’t think I necessarily like Dietz; I didn’t especially like Nyxnissa, either. But as a compelling and complex character, whose story I am compulsively drawn to understand? Dietz, and Nyxnissa, work.

On the constructed level, Hurley is playing with many “wilful homages” as she calls them in the Acknowledgements. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realise that this was basically a ‘Mars attacks’ novel, and that Hurley was playing with lots of the literary connections there. I suspected one or two other nods, early on, but wasn’t sure if they were deliberate until the James Tiptree Jr reference leapt out and smacked me on the nose. I knew that one was deliberate.

This novel is amazing.

Galactic Suburbia 145

In which we all had a very exciting weekend. You can get us from iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia. 

Launched & pre-launched at Continuum: Defying Doomsday and Something New Can Come Into This World

Tansy & the Silent Producer totally got married!

British Fantasy Award shortlist


Alisa: The Martian, Trepalium

Tansy: The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley, Cleverman, UnReal, Which Witch by Eva Ibbotson

Alex: Angela Slatter binge: Vigil, Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, Sourdough and Other Stories, Black-Winged Angels. Also Revolution School (ep 1 until July 6)

Alex’s new podcast! Acts of Kitchen

Tansy’s new superhero story at The Book Smugglers: Kid Dark Against the Machine
On superheroes, kids, gender and role models: Tansy’s Inspiration & Influences

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Galactic Suburbia 136

355514-molly-meldrumIn which Alex and Tansy leap back into 2016 to talk Awards (it’s that season again!), comics, novellas, mysterious London novels and epic feminist canon.

Also, Molly Meldrum.

We’re on iTunes and over at Galactic Suburbia.
Locus Recommended Reading List.
BSFA Awards shortlist

Letters to Tiptree 99 cents! Bestseller on Amazon!

Tansy’s new podcast plug! Sheep Might Fly & Fake Geek Girl

Kickstarter for Ursula Le Guin documentary.

Nominating for Hugos (til end of March) don’t forget.

And Part 1 of the University of Oregon’s Tiptree Symposium, with Julie Phillips (Alex says: sorry not sorry, Tansy)


Tansy: Hellcat by Kate Leth & Brittney Williams, Archie by Mark Waid & Fiona Staples, The Honey Month by Amal El-Mohtar, The Beatriceid by Kate Elliott, “Binti” by Nnedi Okorafor, “The Heart is Eaten Last” by Kameron Hurley (note: Kameron says any new Patreon subscriber automatically gets access to all the stories she has posted so far including this one – bargain at as little as $1 a month!)

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Susannah Clarke; Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman; The Just City, Jo Walton; Walk to the End of the World, Suzy McKee Charnas. MOLLY.

Skype number: 03 90164171 (within Australia) +613 90164171 (from overseas)

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Galactic Suburbia 96

In which we announce the 2013 Galactic Suburbia for activism and/or communication that advances the feminist conversation in the field of speculative fiction.

[If you want to listen unspoilt to the episode discussing shortlist and winners of the GS Award, listen over here right now without reading the rest of the show notes. Don’t even glance at them! Move along, nothing to see here]

Culture Consumed:
Alex: Shadow Unit! Haven ep 1!
Alisa: Fringe, Haven S1, Game of Thrones S1 and S2, Veronica Mars Movie
Tansy: The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin; Dark Eyes 2 (Big Finish); Veronica Mars Movie

Shout out for Night Terrace.

Cranky Ladies of History funded!

Galactic Suburbia Award!!
for activism and/or communication that advances the feminist conversation in the field of speculative fiction

Malinda Lo’s continuing statistics gathering on LGBT YA books

Foz Meadows for her blogging generally, but particularly “Old Men Yelling at Clouds.”

Anita Sarkeesian – Tropes vs Women in Video Games (Damsel in Distress 1 & 2, Ms Male Character)

Kameron Hurley, ‘We Have Always Fought’: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative,” at A Dribble of Ink.

The Doubleclicks – Nothing to Prove music video

Cheryl Morgan – The Rise & Fall of Grimpink

Deb Stanish for her essay in Apex magazine: “Fangirl isn’t a Dirty Word.”

Honorary shortlistee (the Julia Gillard Award):

Wendy Davis for her amazing filibuster

Joint Winners this Year!!!
(drum roll please)

NK Jemisin for her GoH speech from Continuum (link)

Elise Matheson for her essay “How to Report Sexual Harassment at cons” (link)

Also discussed:

“Not Now, Not Ever” (Gillard Misogyny Speech) by Australian Voices

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Galactic Suburbia 79

Alex & Tansy discuss the Stella, the Shadows, behaving badly on the internet, criticising criticism of the Hugo criticism, and whether the suck fairy has visited Farscape, the Star Wars Thrawn trilogy, or The Mists of Avalon. You can get us from iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia.


The Stella Prize announced its winner last night at a glittery ceremony. Carrie Tiffany won the $50,000 prize for her second novel Mateship with Birds and promptly gave back $10,000 to be awarded to her fellow shortlistees. Classy!

Australian Shadows Award – and the skulls go to…

Seanan McGuire talks about perceptions about self-promotion and the Hugos
We also wanted to draw attention to the post Seanan linked to, “Language Myth #6 – Women Talk Too Much.” Particularly this quote by Dale Spender:

“The talkativeness of women has been gauged in comparison not with men but with silence. Women have not been judged on the grounds of whether they talk more than men, but of whether they talk more than silent women.”

Hugh Howey – The Bitch from Worldcon post

In response: Tobias Buckell – Don’t Punch Down

Chronos Awards – for SF & Fantasy professional & fan works coming out of the state of Victoria.

Eisner Award shortlists
– nice to see Saga & Hawkeye nominated, but Tansy particularly wants to draw people’s attention to the categories for comics & graphic novels aimed at children.

Mind Meld – favourite women writers in genre

(Also – books you savour vs books you devour)

Culture Consumed

ALEX: Farscape season 1; Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command, Timothy Zahn; Rapture, by Kameron Hurley; Sky is Calling, The Impossible Girl (Kickstarted album)

TANSY: Game of Thrones Season 2; Swordspoint the audiobook, The Mists of Avalon, Coode Street Podcast episode 140 featuring Nalo Hopkinson.

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Rapture: the last Nyxnissa novel

When I finished reading the second of the Bel Dame Apocrypha novels, Infidel, I was unable to write a review as such, so I wrote an open letter to the main character, Nynissa so Dasheem, instead. And now the series has finished, and… well. It wasn’t an easy ride, but it was a worthwhile one.

There are spoilers below. You know, things like Nyx is alive for this novel. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, but kinda is.


So, who would have thought that things could get more brutal than God’s War and Infidel? Well done to Hurley by surprising me with that one. I’m thinking particularly of the fact that while previously there have been references to what might happen if you bury a body with its head attached, I don’t believe the consequences have been described in quite such visceral detail. Er… squick. Also, the fight scenes. Brutal indeed.

As with the previous two novels, this one involves Our Nyx taking a a mark that she doesn’t particularly want to, but that she doesn’t feel she can refuse. It’s seven years since the last book, and this is perhaps one of the most remarkable things about Nyx: she got old. And slow. And maybe a bit on the pudgy side, like an ex-boxer or rugby player gets when they stop working out. You see this all the time in movies like Die Hard or Lethal Weapon, where the old heroes get to complain about being old before busting someone’s butt; it’s rare for it to be allowed to happen to a woman. Heck, even Ripley gets to come back as a fully modded clone rather than being old. But there are a number of references to Nyx being old, and a bit a slow, and by no means as stealthy as she would like to think she is. So that’s very cool, because of course she still gets the job done. Kinda. Mostly. Well, she gets something done, anyway.

Back to the plot: it sees Nyx move into quite unfamiliar territory, both literally – we go places we’ve barely even heard of previously – and metaphorically, because she’s actually not sent to kill someone, but rather to bring them back. And it’s a rather surprising someone for that particular mission for this particular ex-bel dame (no, it’s not Rhys). There’s a new set of crew that have to be broken in (er, perhaps a bit too literally), and seriously excruciating things like crossing deserts to contend with. There’s fights and unpleasantess and weird people and death to confront. Some of those things not even of Nyx’s doing. Also, a great big wall that could be a joke at GRR Martin’s expense, since this one is in a desert and has even weirder things on the other side than exist in Nyx’s ordinary world, and since that includes bugs that will turn a dead body into a zombie – well.

One of the really tantalising things that Hurley offers in this section of Nyx’s saga is a glimpse of the backstory of this crazy planet. Little hints about why and when it was colonised, and what happened in the early part of its human history, and how the human population manages to survive. It’s still not enough to make everything make sense, though, and OH MY do I wish Hurley would write a prequel (I know she’s written at least one short set in this universe, maybe that covers it?), because I really, really want to know about the moons and initial colonists and what the heck is going down with the surviving deadtech.

Anyway. The plot is a little bit convoluted but simple enough to follow. It’s not trying to be tricksy because dealing with the bugs is hard enough without having to unravel all sorts of narrative tricks. Once again, though, the characters are a highlight. Nyx doesn’t so much shine as reluctantly, grudgingly, and with a mean scowl shed as little light as she can get away with, but boy if she isn’t still mesmerising. Even when she’s spitting venom and being as cranky as she possibly can. As mentioned, most of her crew is new, with the exception of the shapeshifter Eshe, who is struggling to figure out how to be himself and not be like her, while still worshipping the ground she walks on. The rest of the crew are interesting enough in their own right, although I couldn’t help but see them as so much cannon fodder – much like Nyx sometimes sees them I think, for all she has a surprisingly well-developed sense of duty to those who sign on with her. Because, as well – and here’s a slight spoiler, sorry, but if you’ve read the other two this is important – they’re also outshone by Rhys. Yes, Rhys is here again, in a very surprising – for both himself and Nyx – twist. And that relationship is so fraught, so difficult, so sad and so bitter and so frustrating, that anything else rather pales.

Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention the political side, which is important but somewhat overshadowed by the action. There’s the possibility of a treaty with Chenja (I know, right? The war’s only been going for like three centuries)… which means something rather unexpected: the boys are coming home. And they appear to be expecting that they’ll have, like, some sort of rights when they get there. And jobs maybe? Certainly some place in society. Outrageous, I say! I think this is one aspect that could have done with a little bit more development, if I’m being critical at all – but only because I’m intrigued by how the arguments could play out and would have liked to see more of the philosophical and political discussion that Hurley could bring to bear.

Nyx, you are heartless and cold, a drunk and a killer, mean and brutal. You have changed my perception of how female warriors can be portrayed, and your world has made me see bugs in a new, occasionally more revolted, light. Cheers.

You can buy Rapture from Fishpond.

An open letter to Nyxnissa so Dasheem

Dear Nyx*

Truly you are one of the most brutal women in fiction. No – scratch that – you are one of the most brutal people in fiction.

The fact that you are a woman has an impact, I guess, because for all the Ripleys and River Tams, seeing women kick butt is still a bit exceptional. And of course, you don’t just kick butt. You actively seek out mercenary jobs that are likely to involve very large amounts of death and gore. You may not always relish inflicting pain, but neither do you beat yourself up about it. I think this is one of the things that makes you seem quite so brutal. Other violent actors tend to fall into two categories: the mindless thug, usually a lackey; or the somewhat tragic hero, forced to violence by circumstances.** You fit neither mould. By no means a thug, if not exactly burdened by overthinking situations, you’re such as heck no lackey. And while it might be difficult for you to change your circumstances now, with all your skills being tied up in your bel dame training, you both chose that life originally and are making no attempt to change things anyway. Quite to the contrary – you’re working as hard as you can, or can be bothered, to get back in with bel dames, so you can continue on with your violent lifestyle legitimately rather than taking shadow jobs. You are good at this job (as witnessed by the fact that you’re still alive, fourteen or so years after being kicked out of the bel dames and still pursuing the mercenary scene), so why not keep doing it while it keeps doing it?

A psychologist or psychiatrist would no doubt have a field day analysing and investigating you. Upbringing? One of a litter born to a woman who made her living, as far as I can tell, bearing children for Nasheen – men for the ongoing war with Chenja, women to keep society still running. Not a whole lot of familial love going on there I imagine, although you do seem to have felt some affection for your siblings at various points. Work history? Joined the bel dames to be trained as a government assassin. Jobs including finding boys who don’t want to go to the front and making them go; stopping people who are trying to do nasty, nasty things with biological weapons, sometimes involving the bodies of dead soldiers. Plus assassinations when they’re required. Oh, and the odd black job on the side… like carrying illegal bug tech in your womb… I mean, What the hell, lady?? Then you’re kicked out and you go on the market as a freelancer. Sure, why not.

Plus, your planet relies on bug tech. That’s surely enough to send anyone over the edge… although obviously you’re used to it, so the idea of bugs as medicine and bugs as furniture-producers and bug juice as fuel isn’t strange to you in the least. But it’s sure strange to me and it’s one of the more off-putting sides of your story. That and the lots of death as people try to kill you and you kill them back.

And it must be said that you’re not just brutal in your work, you’re also brutal in your relationships. You don’t really seem to believe in friendship. Perhaps it’s just too annoying and too much of a demand on your energy. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that you have good working relationships – your crew in Infidel, Suha and Eshe, are fine and seem generally committed to you, but let’s be honest here – they’re not exactly a top quality crew. A kid and an addict? What does that say about you? And what happened to your crew from God’s War? Yeh, maybe it’s best not to talk about that. Maybe a bit too raw still, since they’re all gone a long, long way away from you, for a variety of reasons but all at least partly because you are dangerous and unpleasant to be around.

So… why then do I keep reading? Why am I so excited that Rapture has been published so I can maybe get some closure? Hmm, perhaps that’s exactly the reason. Perhaps I’m hoping for some redemption for you, although what that would look like I don’t know and now that I write that, actually perhaps redemption would be a betrayal of everything you’ve stood for. You sure can’t be sent off to pasture, to grow bugs or something. I can’t imagine there will be marriage or a steady partnership in your future, and definitely no babies. Restoration to the bel dames perhaps? Going on a killing spree and killing all of the bel dames? Now that would be interesting. Maybe you could be responsible for stopping the war with Chenja! – although that would leave you totally at a loss. Maybe that would be appropriate.

Perhaps you will die. That would make a brutal sort of sense.

I keep reading your stories because for all you’re brutal, you’re also magnetic. Your brutality is part of that magnetism – and I might have done you a disservice in describing you as brutal all the time, because it’s not like you go around randomly kicking puppies or cuffing children or belting your crew. You only use violence where it’s necessary… if sometimes you’re a bit enthusiastic. But you are also a good boss, or try to be; you’re loyal, even if sometimes that comes across (sorry) a bit brutally – especially when it comes to being patriotic. And you’re unpredictable, which is an entertaining trait in a character (it can be damn terrifying in a real friend, though).

So… thanks. Thanks for keeping on trying even when it’s really hard. Thanks for keeping on. And thanks, Kameron Hurley, for this amazing character. I can’t imagine she was easy to write, and I imagine she was also pretty hard to sell to a publisher – bug tech! irredeemably tough chick! – so thanks, too, Night Shade Books. You rock.

With respect



*Nyx is a character created by Kameron Hurley, featured in God’s War, Infidel, and Rapture.

** Yes, this is a generalisation. It’s my letter, go away.

Galactic Suburbia 47!

In which we bid farewell to the queen of dragons, squee about 48 years of Doctor Who, dissect the negative associations with “girly” fandoms such as Twilight, and find some new favourites in our reading pile. We can be downloaded from iTunes or got at Galactic Suburbia


RIP Anne McCaffrey (also some tributes)

48th anniversary of Doctor Who!

A website devoted to The Weird and created by Luis Rodrigues. The project is the brainchild of editing-writing team Ann & Jeff VanderMeer.
Critiquing the Bigotry of Twilight-haters, not the same thing as defending Twilight

Call for contributions/suggestions for our GS Award.

What Culture Have we Consumed?
Alisa: Once Upon a Time; The Courier’s New Bicycle, Kim Westwood
AlexThe Steel Remains, Richard Morgan; Blue Remembered Earth, Alastair Reynolds; The Glass Gear, in Valente’s Omikuji Project; also watched Thor.
Tansy: All Men of Genius, Lev A.C. Rosen; God’s War, Kameron Hurley. Comics: Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman (abandoned); Batgirl the Greatest Stories Ever Told

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!