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Basic info:

Author: Kameron Hurley

Genre: space opera with some romance

Length: 41 pages (chapbook), 30 pages (Kindle)

Available: See author’s website for links

Publisher: Author

MY RATING: 5.0 stars

The keepers came centuries ago. Their deeds are recorded on the bodies of those they conquered. Kameron Hurley tells us an interesting story about history and truth in The Corpse Archives, a forty-one-page novellette available now in e-book format.

It’s not a tale for the faint of heart, mind you. It reminded me on the surface of Franz Kafka’s “In the Penal Colony,” where the crimes of the prisoners was tattooed on their skin, and the philosophy of Michel Foucault (Madness and Civilization comes to mind).

Meaning there’s a lot about bodies and what our scars say about us, and what we say about our scars–truth and stories, whose truth and whose stories. The protagonist was pulled out of a detention camp where they were the only person not marked with scars (the protagonist’s gender was not apparent to me in the start of the story, so I made a game of guessing male, female, something else). They were taken from the camp to be trained as an archivist in the corpse archives where horribly scarred individuals exist to bear witness to the keepers’ truth.

If I say any more, I would have said too much. Check it out if you’re not squeamish about body modification and body horror. Some profound truths are contained within that are worth thinking over, once you’re done reading this story that’s told at a vigorous, breakneck pace.

I like how she left a good bit of work for the reader to do, as Hurley tends to do with her shorts. And I think that’s one of her strengths, and one that other writers should learn from.