Meet Me in the Future: Stories

Given how much I enjoyed Kameron Hurley's Apocalypse Nyx last year, you can imagine my enthusiasm when the folks at Tachyon emailed me a digital copy of her upcoming collection of short stories, Meet Me in the Future. It was pure delight to be reunited with Nyx and Rhys, if only for the span of five short fiction pieces. Apocalypse Nyx recaptured everything that made the Bel Dame Apocrypha such a memorable read.

Meet Me in the Future would be a totally different beast. Collected for the first time, here were sixteen disparate short stories that had first appeared in various anthologies and magazines. But with its myriad themes and characters, would the book stand well on its own? Although each novella acted as a stand-alone vignette and was episodic in nature, the five stories that comprised Apocalypse Nyx formed a whole that worked quite well. Indeed, there were enough threads linking them together to create a work that stood well on its own.

Collecting short fiction pieces from a variety of sources can be tricky. After all, nearly all anthologies and collections of short stories are filled with lackluster material that act as filler to supplement the quality tales. Ye of little faith that I am, I should have known that it wouldn't be the case with Kameron Hurley. Although some are definitely better than others, overall the stories contained within the pages of Meet Me in the Future are all good reads in their own right. Even better, though disparate in style and tone, there are enough recurring themes explored throughout the tales that the book stands rather well on its own.

Here's the blurb:

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.

The best aspect of Meet Me in the Future is that it showcases the length and breadth of Kameron Hurley's fertile and unconventional imagination. If you have yet to give the author a shot, this collection of short stories is the perfect opportunity to remedy that sad state of affairs. In the introduction, Hurley explains that she is obsessed with bodies and their problems and disabilities. Which explains why so many of her protagonists are flawed in so many ways. This book also features an enormous amount of diversity, be it in terms of gender non-conformity, sexual orientations, narrative styles, etc.

And even if the worldbuilding can be quite different from one short story to the next, this facet tends to be grimdark and post-apocalyptic more often than not. The author's fascination with biology, bugs, and technology also colors most of these tales in Hurley's own unique style.

Can't say much about each short story without spoiling anything, so I will let you have the pleasure of savoring each of them when you read this collection. I will say this, however. Nev, main character of "Elephants and Corpses" and "The Fishermen and the Pig", deserves a novel-length project, if only to discover more about this body mercenary and his/her world. Some really cool stuff in both of those stories, with potential for countless more!

My favorites include "The Red Secretary", "The Sinners and the Sea", "The Plague Givers", "Tumbledown", and "The War of Heroes". But as I mentioned, every piece offers something different and is worth the read. Even "Enyo-Enyo", which is a veritable mindfuck of a story!

Meet Me in the Future demonstrates yet again just how gifted and unique an author Kameron Hurley truly is. This is definitely one of the speculative fiction titles to read in 2019. Or any other year, for that matter!

Here's to hoping that Hurley has more quality stories in the pipeline, for I'd take another such collection every few years. Highly recommended.

The final verdict: 8/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

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