Kameron Hurley, author of The Mirror Empire and The Stars Are Legion

Kameron Hurley, author of The Mirror Empire and The Stars Are Legion

If you breathe air and read science fiction in 2014, you’ve likely heard of Kameron Hurley. She won two Hugo Awards (one for her essay, We Have Always Fought: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle, and Slaves’ Narrative, published by A Dribble of Ink), The Mirror Empire, the first volume of the Worldbreaker trilogy made waves in the wake of Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, and, now, she’s just jumped the queue and started making news for 2016 already.

“It’s like Mad Max meets Henry V but aboard a world-sized Weyland-Yutani spaceship.”Joe Monti, Executive Editor at Saga Press

I’m excited to announce that Saga Press will be publishing Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion, a stand alone space opera, in 2016. It is the first of two science-fiction novels purchased by Joe Monti at Saga Press from Kameron Hurley. Follow along for the official press release, and an interview about the new deal and The Stars are Legion with Kameron Hurley. This is a novel worth getting seriously excited about.

The official press release:

Award-winning author Kameron Hurley has sold two new science-fiction novels, to Simon and Schuster’s new genre imprint Saga Press.

The Stars are Legion is a standalone space opera for fans of Ann Leckie and China Mieville; set within a system of decaying world-ships travelling through deep space, it follows the feud between the matriarchal families of two of the world-ships, whose feud will grow into a war to wrest control of the fading hopes of the legion of worlds. Joe Monti at Saga Press bought North American and audio rights to 2 books on an exclusive submission from Hannah Bowman at Liza Dawson Associates.

Publication is planned for Fall 2016. U.K., translation, and film rights handled by Liza Dawson Associates.

Joe Monti says about the new project: “This will show a new facet of Hurley’s writing that both echoes the visceral intimacy of God’s War and the epic scale of the Mirror Empire trilogy with a level of action-packed immediacy within The Stars Are Legion. I think this book will be an exciting debut to the many-layered imagination that the field has come to expect from a Kameron Hurley novel. It’s like Mad Max meets Henry V but aboard a world-sized Weyland-Yutani spaceship.”

Hannah Bowman says: “The Stars Are Legion has everything I like best about Kameron’s writing: flawed characters, off-the-charts creativity, and visceral, brutal ideas and descriptions that place you right in the middle of strange new worlds. She writes science fiction at its strangest and best.”

Kameron says about the new book: “You can indeed expect the best from me in this one: war, revenge, rebels, rotting spaceships…. melted half-people, casual cannibalism, flesh-eating recycler monsters, aborted worlds, frozen spacewalkers, three-headed seers, and cancerous bottom-world mechanics, and oh yes an epic war between two families fighting it out for supremacy in a dying legion of starships. Incredibly excited to see this book out in the world with the enthusiastic help and support of Joe Monti and Saga Press.”

Art by Chris Cold

Art by Chris Cold

Monti had me at “It’s like Mad Max meets Henry V but aboard a world-sized Weyland-Yutani spaceship.” But, then you add all the rest of the good stuff Hurley’s throwing into the mix — rotting spaceships, melted half-people? What sort of dystopic generation ship is this? — proves that Hurley wasn’t content with the bar she’s setting with the Worldbreaker trilogy, and has her sights set on something even bigger, even weirder, even more unsettling.

Press releases are fun, but I wanted to find out more about Hurley’s new novel, so I caught up with her to chat about the upcoming novel, Saga Press’ rising star, dying spaceships, and why Star Wars is as much fantasy as it is science fiction.

Kameron Hurley
Saga Press hasn’t even released a book yet, but they’re already generating a lot of buzz with upcoming novels from writers like Ken Liu, Genevieve Valentine, and now you, Kam. What makes Saga Press such a good fit for The Stars are Legion?
Honestly, I’d say it’s Joe Monti. Sure, I’ll be at a bigger publishing house, which is always great, but what I’m most excited about is working with Joe to make this novel truly extraordinary. We discussed the project back in August, and to make it really sing, it’s going to take a lot of work, work he’s willing to do as an editor and I’m willing to do as an author. Taking my work from grimweird to classic is a task I’d only undertake with a really solid editor who was behind the project 8,000 percent, and that’s Joe. The great thing about a new imprint, as well, is that they’re allowed to take more risks and invest in a mix of projects. I’m excited to be in the second wave of books out from the press in 2016.
Your previous books straddle the line between science fiction and fantasy, but with “world-sized” generation ships, spacewalkers, and “aborted worlds,” it sounds like you’re making the jump into full-fledged space opera in The Stars are Legion. What appeals to you about crossing and blurring genre lines, and what does it mean for fans of your past work?
I’d argue “full-fledged space opera” is the very definition of science-fantasy! Let’s be real: Star Wars is not grounded in scientific fact with a capital “F” (if there’s a capital “F” it’s for Fantasy). For someone who writes fantasy/science fiction mash ups, space opera is actually the perfect playground. You get all the fun of the frontier of space infused with the fantastic weirdness of what-could-be-what-might-have-been of fantasy. Throw that whole familial saga angle on top, with wars and womb tech and alien consciousness and my love of organic tech and it pretty much guarantees you’re going to get a seriously mad Kameron Hurley novel.
Your editor, Joe Monti, likens The Stars are Legion to Henry V. What makes stories of warring families so timeless, and how does a shift from the fields of England and France to the vast expanse of space change the dynamics of such a conflict?
Henry V is a more accessible way of thinking about the central conflict of the book, but the bare bones plot is actually based on an Icelandic epic, and there’s some Hindu-inspired mythology in there as well that’s driving the plot and the worldbuilding. I’ve also paired down the “vast expanse of space” for this particular space opera, which means what most changes the conflict isn’t the distances so much as the particular dangers of traversing airless space to attack your enemies. Centering the action inside a self-contained “star system” (for lack of a better term) of world ships, I’m able to keep the landscape both epic and intimate. The worlds are all a hop, skip and a jump away from one another, which makes the logistics of battling it out in the darkness that much more interesting. It’s easier to destroy worlds you never see, harder to be able to watch them burn in front of you.
Will readers need to read your previous trilogies before they read The Stars are Legion?
Not at all. What I love about this book is that it’s set up as a standalone novel – the first standalone I’ll have published. Coming out of two series (with another series book likely on the horizon), it’s refreshing to have the freedom to build a big bold world, an epic civil war/family saga type of book, and type “The End” and mean it. Plotting a series over three books is a vast undertaking, especially a series like my current Worldbreaker Saga, which is just such a massive story. I like to think The Stars are Legion is going to be a cakewalk in comparison, but I know better. I’m working with Joe now, and between the two of us, the book is going to have to be perfect before it sees the light of day. I have full confidence in our ability to deliver an accessible book unlike anything you’ve all seen before, and I can’t wait to get started.

Cover art for The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

Buy The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley: Book/eBook

You get all the fun of the frontier of space infused with the fantastic weirdness of what-could-be-what-might-have-been of fantasy.

Hurley makes a wonderful distinction by pointing out that Star Wars is as much a fantasy as it is science fiction, and it’s lovely to see writers who are willing to explore the intersect between the two genres. Whether it’s technology so advanced it appears magic, or physics-bending aliens the likes of which we’ve never seen on Earth, Hurley has the chops to make space wonderful and frightening. I can’t wait to see where she takes us.

Kameron Hurley’s The Stars Are Legion will be published in 2016 by Saga Press. Can’t wait for dying generation ships and familial warfare? The Mirror Empire, the first volume of the Worldbreaker trilogy, is currently exciting critics and readers, and her non-fiction collection, We Have Always Fought, collects the best of Hurley’s essays and rants into one nice package.

  • Joe Sherry December 15, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Sold. Just, sold.

  • Paul (@princejvstin) December 15, 2014 at 8:44 am

    “It’s like Mad Max meets Henry V but aboard a world-sized Wayland-Yutani spaceship.”

    It’s said a lot, but “Shut up and take my money” :)

  • Sharon Browning December 15, 2014 at 9:01 am

    What exciting news! There are so many great things on the horizon, not just from Ms. Hurley, but so many new and budding, thrilling writers… but this just moved me even closer to the edge of my seat. I would say that it will be hard to wait until 2016, but I’ve already got a reading queue so long, the time will pass in a flash!

  • Aidan Moher December 15, 2014 at 10:19 am

    @Paul — I imagine this is swiftly climbing to the top of a lot of “to read” lists!

    @Sharon — That’s an attitude I wish more readers had! There’s never a lack for interesting and wonderful books to read, no matter how far off your most anticipated novel is!

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  • Matt W December 16, 2014 at 10:39 am

    Very exciting! I’m just reading my way through Rapture now and am anticipating reading Worldbreaker once it’s done. I’m especially glad that this new novel is a standalone; we need more of those — it takes some stamina to read a series. Hurley is simply awesome: “war, revenge, rebels, rotting spaceships…. melted half-people, casual cannibalism, flesh-eating recycler monsters, aborted worlds, frozen spacewalkers, three-headed seers, and cancerous bottom-world mechanics.” Can’t wait!

  • […] so happened I had, I thought, an unsellable one. But within a few weeks of winning two Hugos, I had a new two book deal with an advance for each book that was about three times what I was paid for THE MIRROR EMPIRE […]

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