'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.
Release Date: 20110118
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Beginning with Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl three years ago, Night Shade Books has made a concerted effort to produce meaningful debut novels. 2011 was a bold year in that regard. God’s War by Kameron Hurley, subsequently nominated for a Nebula Award, was the mother ship of that movement. It’s the kind of novel that plants a flag, making a statement about the deficiencies of genre fiction and challenging societal perceptions as a matter of course.
Nyxnissa is a bounty hunter. She’s rather good at her job, mostly because she manages to chop off the heads of anyone dumb enough to get in her way. She’s got an unlucky team around her, headlined by the not so talented magician, Rhys, whose good looks and steady hands make up for his deficiencies. Once a government sponsored bel dame (assassin), Nyx has been down her luck for a while when she’s called before the Nasheen Queen to hunt down an alien who might have access to genetic technology that could end the never ending war between Chenja and Nasheen. Of course, her team isn’t the only one looking. Conflict ensues.
What makes God’s War such an accomplishment has little to do with plot. It is, in fact, somewhat of a failure as a narrative. The novel is littered with disjointed blanks that demand filling and the first fifty pages are more of a novella than the opening to a novel. Other details, like why Nyx’s team is so loyal to her and the relationships between Nyx and the various arms of the government, lack an equal amount of lucidity. What rescues the novel is Hurley’s unremitting authentic voice, the sheer audacity of her ideas, and brilliantly conceived and executed characters. Continue reading