This is not a review of Kameron Hurley’s God’s War (Bel Dame Apocrypha#1)–that will come soon enough. It’s not my usual kind of post either. Bit of a thought piece on reading and finding new favorite authors.
From another angle, it’s a sort of travelogue explaining how I came about reading this book. There’s always a story about how a particular reader came to read a particular book at a particular time. At least for me there’s a always a story, and I suspect that I’m not alone.
It all began with Hurley’s Hugo Award-winning blog post, We Have Always Fought. I am myself a military historian by training, and I have more than a few obscure and not-so-obscure stories of women in combat. I also consider myself a gender historian and a feminist besides. So the blog post caught my attention. I reread it again and again over the course of a few weeks. It really boiled down a lot of post-everything theory that I read under some duress while studying for my master’s degree in Latin American and Caribbean history (post-structural, post-modern, post-colonial).
Ah cool. So I get a sort of cute “We miss you!” email from Twitter, since I hadn’t done anything on their site for six months or whatever, so I go back, and decide to find some people to follow. I search a few science fiction and fantasy authors I thought might have interesting things to say from time to time after dumping the news sites and corporate accounts I’d originally followed there.
Meanwhile, I begin following Kameron Hurley’s blog. I don’t yet realize that she is a fiction writer.
Yes, that sort of thing happens to me sometimes. Don’t ask me why.
And so she blogs about a deal that her new publisher, Angry Robot, has put together with Barnes and Noble to promote her new novel, The Mirror Empire.
(My local B&N had closed down a month earlier, so that was frustrating, but I was interested. This was her third blog post that I’d read, the second being an interesting thought piece on writing characters with physical disabilities–which was relevant to my own fiction writing at the time.)
Huh. (That’s the sound Malcolm Reynolds makes on Firefly when he is faced with a paradox. I’ve adopted the sound by osmosis.)
So I rush over to Amazon and download the sample of The Mirror Empire. A prologue and three chapters. Ten seconds later, I’m on my Kindle reading. I have to read the prologue three times but I get it–parallel worlds, buggomancy, looming apocalypse. The chapters run by much quicker, like desert after a solid, protein-rich meal.
This is sort of like Doctor Who, with a bit of Dune maybe? And a lot of other things besides.
Except it’s a cool new thing.
And I must have this cool new thing. So I buy it. And read. And read. And read.
And of course head over to Twitter and bug (no pun intended) Kameron Hurley (that’s @KameronHurley if you’re interested). I love your book. The prologue sold me on it. Can I get the cool deal with B&N please?
No, she replies (an uber-cool author who replies to tweets?), it’s just for B&N.
I finish the book over the course of several, caffeine-induced late-night reading sessions. I hadn’t stayed up to read a novel since C.S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair in seventh grade. Yes, it was that good.
Then the dilemma: it was over, and awesome, and none of my friends had read it. Early adopter syndrome: sitting at home, hugging my knees, waiting for HBO to pick up the series. So I start this blog to vent my love for this book. Got it out of my system, a bit, then tweeted and FB posted every temporary price reduction on THE BOOK for about a month.
I get like this. I love things then start hawking it. Not usually this bad though.
And so I read a lot more books in 2014. Devour much of Brandon Sanderson’s canon, read some Terry Brooks, get into Nora Jemisin and finish Jim Butcher’s Alera series (the first time).
And then late in the year, Hurley’s first book, God’s War, is on offer at Amazon, in e-book format. I didn’t expect it to be like Mirror Empire, but somewhat close at least.
I could see parallels, but it was a quite different story. The first chapter sort of threw me. Body parts are being sold, cars are running somehow on bugs. By the second chapter, I’m hooked, once I realize it’s going to be sort of like Firefly or another team story. Then I sort of sideline the weirdness until I can deal with it, and it becomes clearer, bit by bit. But I’m going to review that book when I’m done with it, in a week or two. It’s the kind of thing that I want to chew over carefully. It’s a more straightforward tale, but there’s a lot of depth and soul to it that a fast read would ruin.
All this reflection has brought to mind a few things. First, the road is always twisted from point A to wherever it is you go from here. You read a blog post or a Tweet or a friend’s recommendation and then one damned thing leads to another. Just keep up as best you can. And second, keep an eye out for fellow travelers who may need directions. They may be interested readers or fellow aspiring writers. Be polite, say please and thank you, and offer help without expecting a return on your investment.