A Secondary World Much Like the First
Even if you put aside problematic assumptions of biological determinism, there’s still one thing I just can’t understand: why on earth would a fantasy world have to conform to the (supposed) rules of this one?
Lately there have been questions as to whether epic fantasy is inherently “conservative.” The term is sometimes specified in terms of political movement or ideological conservatism, but more broadly refers to the production and reproduction of social convention. I have serious doubts about the ideological bit, a point already well articulated by Liz Bourke. Unfortunately, I have little doubt about the rest—particularly in comparison to epic fantasy’s sibling genre, science fiction. But why is that, and does it really have to be that way?
I started thinking about these questions after reading excellent essays by Kameron Hurley and Foz Meadows on the historical precedent for women warriors in epic fantasy (as well as Django Wexler’s epic follow-up piece), and particularly after being drawn into a vigorous online discussion on that topic. The prevalent counter-argument, as I understand it, is this: for biological-evolutionary reasons (lesser upper body strength, necessity for the slow human reproductive process, greater empathy, etc.), women in our world are less likely to be soldiers; therefore, they should be less common as soldiers in fantasy worlds.
Huh? Continue reading
'We Have Always Fought': Challenging the 'Women, Cattle and Slaves' Narrative
I’m going to tell you a story about llamas. It will be like every other story you’ve ever heard about llamas: how they are covered in fine scales; how they eat their young if not raised properly; and how, at the end of their lives, they hurl themselves – lemming-like- over cliffs to drown in the surging sea. They are, at heart, sea creatures, birthed from the sea, married to it like the fishing people who make their livelihood there.
Every story you hear about llamas is the same. You see it in books: the poor doomed baby llama getting chomped up by its intemperate parent. On television: the massive tide of scaly llamas falling in a great, majestic herd into the sea below. In the movies: bad-ass llamas smoking cigars and painting their scales in jungle camouflage.
Because you’ve seen this story so many times, because you already know the nature and history of llamas, it sometimes shocks you, of course, to see a llama outside of these media spaces. The llamas you see don’t have scales. So you doubt what you see, and you joke with your friends about “those scaly llamas” and they laugh and say, “Yes, llamas sure are scaly!” and you forget your actual experience. Continue reading
There has long raged a debate about the quality of UK vs. US cover art and the different ideals behind design aesthetics in the two regions. In general, fans seem to consider the UK to be the stronger market, and for a long time they were, but it’s my feeling that in the past couple of years, thanks to publishers like Tor, Night Shade Books, Pyr Books and Orbit Books, that the US has eclipsed the UK and is generating much more interesting cover art in general. Hurley herself said, “I am told the UK market is way more stuck-up about their covers. I adore my Conan covers, but $1 says the more mainstreamy-cover sells more books.”
If this is a ‘mainstreamy’ cover, I’m not sure I like where Del Rey UK is taking the series. Still, It’s nice to see Hurley seeing a release from a major publisher. What some people might not know is that Del Rey was originally meant to publish Hurley in the US, first picking up her novel, God’s War, before, for a variety of reasons that I’m not clear on, deciding to let Hurley and the series go. It, and its edits, were then picked up by Night Shade Books. Continue reading
Release Date: 20111018
Publisher: Night Shade Books
There’s a fine line between dark and compelling and horrifying and off-putting. When a story comes right up to the line without crossing it a certain dichotomy comes into existence whereby I want to look away and forget about it, but can’t. No author in recent memory walks this line better that Kameron Hurley whose second novel, Infidel, compliments that description perfectly.
Picking up some time after the end of God’s War, the centuries-long holy war between Nasheen and Chenja is taking its toll. Nyx is a bodyguard in Mustallah, the capital city of Nasheen,where shortages and rationing are causing the Queen to lose power and popularity. While protecting the daughter of a diplomat, Nyx is attacked by a group of assassins. She survives, but finds herself caught up in a whirl-wind of intrigue involving a plot against the monarchy. She has to figure out who’s trying to kill her, and the Queen, while avoiding the wrath of the person she’s trying to protect.
A continuation of Hurley’s brilliantly constructed characters, authentic and fully realized world building
Suffice to say the characters that survived God’s War are back in Infidel along with some new ones. There’s a significant jump in time between the two and Hurley does a solid job of filling in the details. Generally speaking, the narrative is much smoother, eschewing the choppiness and pacing issues that plagued God’s War in the early going. That, combined with a continuation of Hurley’s brilliantly constructed characters, authentic and fully realized world building, and pull no-punches style, makes Infidel not only a worthy addition to God’s War, but a wholesale improvement.
You like free things, right? And you like good, critically-lauded novels? Of course you do.
Thanks to Night Shade Books, you can pick up eBook versions of the first two novels by Kameron Hurley (remember her? She wrote this awesome blog post), God’s War and Infidel. How do you get ‘em? It’s easy, just send an email to the following address:
It’s that easy. And, you know, you’re just not going to find a better deal than that this week. So, hop on it. Conveniently, this promotion comes just in time for the release of Rapture, the third and final volume in the Bel Dame Apocrypha
If you’re curious about why you should be excited by Hurley’s series, check out Justin Landon’s recent review of God’s War, and keep an eye on A Dribble of Ink for upcoming reviews of both Infidel and Rapture.