Monday, 30 July 2012

God's War

Kameron Hurley, 2011
(July 2012)

Sometimes when I’m playing CIV I like to give my leaders deliberately overblown and bombastic names: Tharg the Mighty, Gutpunch the Terrible, Cocksmash the Worldfucker. You get the idea. Those are purely for my own personal amusement though; it takes a pretty high level of chutzpah to give your debut novel a name like God’s War. You can be farily certain this isn’t going to be a delicately wrought meditation on beauty, loss, and the impermanence of the human condition.

Thank fuck for that.

              “Nyx sold her womb somewhere between Punjai and Faleen, on the edge of the desert.”

From the opening sentence, it’s safe to say that my attention has been got. By the end of the first page we’ve covered organ harvesting, gambling, bloodsport, drugs, bounty hunters and lesbian sex. Before long we’ve also got magic, aliens, shape-shifters, an everlasting war, and bugs. Lots and lots of bugs. It’s as though the author had been mulling this one over for years – what to leave in, what to cut – before finally thinking, ‘Fuck it. I’ll use everything.

And the joyous thing is, it works. The story barrels along without let-up and the protagonist is a wonderful anti-heroine, which is something we really don’t get enough of. I loved it; the sheer balls-to-the-wall energy of it all. Hurley’s set all these contrary plates spinning and she appears to have realized that if she spins them all fast and hard enough it might just work, and even if it doesn’t the noise when they all come crashing down will be spectacular. We need more of this kind of thing.

The only thing which approaches a misstep is the unrequited attraction between Nyx and her magician, which doesn’t really convince. It seems too at odds with both their characters, especially hers. But that’s easy enough to coast over in amongst all the blood and gore and Neoptera.

There's a sequel out already and the third part of the trilogy is apparently due in the autumn. They’re all on a fairly small imprint, and I had a bit of a faff getting hold of it (meaning I had to use amazon’s USA site and wait a little longer, so it was hardly a Herculean effort), but it was well worth it and this deserves as large an audience as possible. Glorious stuff.

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