Genre : Dark fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror
Publisher : Tachyon Publications
Length : 288 pages
Format : eARC
Rating : 4 stars
Publication Date : August 20th 2019
When renegade author Kameron Hurley (The Light Brigade; The Stars Are Legion) takes you to the future, be prepared for the unexpected. Yes, it will be dangerous, frequently brutal, and often devastating. But it’s also savagely funny, deliriously strange, and absolutely brimming with adventure.
In these edgy, unexpected tales, a body-hopping mercenary avenges his pet elephant, and an orphan falls in love with a sentient starship. Fighters ally to power a reality-bending engine, and a swamp-dwelling introvert tries to save the world—from her plague-casting former wife.
So come meet Kameron Hurley in the future. The version she’s created here is weirder—and far more hopeful—than you could ever imagine.
Meet Me in the Future is Kameron Hurley’s latest collection of short stories. Blending several genres such as science fiction, fantasy and horror, this collection offers a variety of stories exploring several themes. If you are familiar with Hurley’s works, you will probably be familiar with them. If you aren’t, Hurley often writes about war, injured bodies and queerness and her main characters tend to be unlikeable, suffering from PTSD and done with everyone’s bullshit.
Before reading this anthology, I had only read one of Hurley’s novels The Stars are Legion and one of her short stories, The Red Secretary (included in this short collection but first published in Uncanny Magazine). I didn’t have the best experience with the former, however, I really enjoyed the latter, which is why I decided to give Meet Me in the Future a try. And I’m glad I did because it’s an amazing collection!
Hurley’s stories are bloody, complex and deal with hard issues so, if dark fiction isn’t your thing, I don’t think you will enjoy this one. However, if you want to read from the perspectives of morally grey characters who don’t take shit from anybody, I would definitely recommend this anthology.
First of all, I love the fact that most of Hurley’s characters are women or non-binary and that all those characters are doing things that are usually seen as masculine such as killing people for money. In her stories, anyone can be a badass, angry and moody mercenary, no matter their gender. Also, most of the characters (if not all!) are queer and I live for that. It’s rare to find an author who almost always write from the perspective of queer characters!
Another theme explored at length in Meet Me in the Future is the body. Or should I say bodies? They are at the center of several stories such as Elephants and Corpses, The Fisherman and the Pig, The Plague Givers and The Corpse Archives. They come in all shapes and sizes, some are young and healthy, some less so. Some are alive, others are a mushy decomposed mess. In the introduction, Hurley explains that her fascination with bodies is very personal since she is suffering from a chronic illness that affects her own body. One of my favorite stories, Tumbledown, follows a main character with a physical disability and it shows how people interact with the main character as if they were only defined by their disability. This story is amazing and I could tell that Hurley’s own experiences were reflected in it.
Meet Me in the Future is also about war and its consequences. It discusses the pointlessness of wars, how they affect people and how messy they are. It also shows how wars aren’t always as simple as we make them to be. I know Hurley isn’t the first nor the last author to use speculative fiction in order to make that point but, I have to say that I love how she does it!
It would probably be a bit tedious to read mini reviews of all sixteen stories so I decided to highlight my top 4. All my faves are science fiction stories but, if you know my reading tastes, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise!
Enyo-Enyo – 5*
This story is an absolute mind-fuck and I’m sure I would need several re-read to understand it completely but, I really loved it. It’s about a spacecraft pilot traveling through time and space. It’s dark and messed-up but it’s a story that I will never forget!
Tumbledown – 5*
A paraplegic woman warrior is sent on a suicide mission to bring vaccines to a dying city.
I love how Hurley always managed to craft amazing characters that are not often represented in fiction. I have read quite a few stories following characters suffering from mental illness, however, I don’t often read from the perspective of characters with physical disabilities (if you have any recommendations, I’m all ears!).
This story was another hard one but I really loved the main character. She was so stubborn and brave, even when faced with death and I was rooting for her the entire time. The worldbuilding was detailed and the pacing was also on point!
The Light Brigade – 4.5*
Before being a novel, The Light Brigade was first written as a short story. I’ve read both and, while I prefer the novel, the short story is also very good!
Set in a world where soldiers are turned into light beams to travel quickly from one battle ground to the next, The Light Brigade follows Dietz, a soldier who experiences those “jumps” in an unusual way. Is she going insane because of the battles and the drugs she keeps on getting injected with or, is she traveling through time as well as space?
It’s a story which stands well on its own but, if you want to read the novel, I would recommend reading it the novel first since the short story spoils a few of its big events (of course, I didn’t do that since I ended up reading the anthology before the novel… 🤡).
The Red Secretary – 4.5*
Following a negotiator trying to stop a soldier from blowing up a fortress, The Red Secretary is a captivating story about the consequences of war.
It was my second time reading this story but I was happy to revisit it. In this world, after a war, it doesn’t matter if you are on the winning or the losing side. If you have committed an act of violence during the conflict, you need to be put to death. It was fascinating to see how this odd rule affected the soldiers from both sides.
If you enjoy dark and unsettling reads exploring fascinating themes, Meet Me in the Future is a must. The collection doesn’t contain a single bad story and they were varied enough that I didn’t feel burn-out by the end. 🙂
Art by Sergey Nivens from 123RF.com