Kameron Hurley’s God’s War arrives into this melee like a live grenade, lobbed with abandon and not a little mischief. It is a book in which the. God’s War: Bel Dame Apocrypha Volume 1 [Kameron Hurley] on * FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Nyx had already been to hell. One prayer. I didn’t have to wait very long for the—as the guidelines for the That Was Awesome series phrase it—“small and/or crystallizing.

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Anyone with an interest in the online critical discussion surrounding science fiction and this is a quite separate hobby to reading and actually enjoying the texts in question will not have failed to notice the current, justified, anxiety about women writers in the genre.

Why, in the UK particularly, are there so few women with ongoing professional publishing contracts? What barriers to their equal success in the field exist, and what might be done about that? For every Lauren Beukes, whose timely win of the Arthur C. Kameron Hurley’s God’s War arrives into this melee like a live grenade, lobbed with abandon and not a little mischief. It is a book in which the lead character sells her womb in the very first line, before proceeding to shoot, swear, and shag with little attention to or respect for what might be imagined as the traditional shape of the action adventure heroine.

Her sexual conquests—they are never amorous encounters—encompass both sexes and one presumes every conceivable position; her aim is true and her insides gutsy. She has, in a word I am sure Hurley wills us to employ, balls. Not only that, but the world of God’s Waras much as our guide through it, hits us between the eyes. In an indeterminately far-flung future, a vaguely large number of planets have been colonized by a series of human civilizations. Those we encounter in this novel, and as its title may suggest, are all in some way religiously motivated: Hurley steers a coy course here, careful not to identify the scriptures of the planet as the Qur’an, or to namecheck Muhammad though both mosques and muezzins are present.

Quite aside from its wisdom of restraint, this tact also opens up interesting questions about how religions and cultures might develop at a distance from their origins. More to the point, this sort of future provides a richly equivocal backdrop on which to project issues of gender: Hurley does not stand still with her worldbuilding, however: Already termed “bugpunk,” the driving science of God’s War is an insect-based system which seems to use pheromones and other stimulants to control a variety of creatures large and small responsible for powering and effecting a series of high- and low-tech devices: This world’s electricians are individuals with a Force-like ability to master the invisible signals and smells which command the bugs, and they are known as magicians.

Their own otherness from what we might recognize as human is trumped only by the “shifters,” individuals with the power to—rather messily—metamorphose into one kind of animal or another. It is this last, and most mysterious, of Hurley’s creations which is most closely related to the McGuffin which drives the novel’s plot. But the reader comes only slowly to realize this, since one of the oddest aspects of this otherwise explosive novel is how paradoxically slowly its story moves.

In part, this is a function of the great weight of backstory Umayma possesses: These two power blocs, around which some more minor powers revolve, have distinctly separate cultures one thinks of the separation between Islam in the Arabian peninsula and in the Maghreb, perhaps but both approach their war with the same total purpose: The number who make it are few. This, then, leaves open the space for women to wield political power whilst males fight and die. As that characterization might imply, one of the several intriguing aspects of Hurley’s gynecocracy is its imperfection, its frank and graphic corruption.

God’s War is no argument for the greater qualifications of the feminine to rule: Nasheen’s queen is as calculating and perfidious as any man, her legion of bel dames, government assassins who track down deserting males bringing home toxins from the front, as corrupt as the worst all-male mafia. This approach is fitting. In an interview earlier this year at suvudu. Indeed, all the book’s empathy and even conscience is placed in the character of a man: Rhys, a self-selected volunteer from Nasheen’s great rival, is a second-rate magician whose pacificism led him to flee his patriotic father only to find a very cold welcome in the prejudiced Nasheenian cities.


Caught between the criminal underworld inhabited by the increasingly amoral Nyx, and shadowy benefactors amongst the circles of high-powered magicians, he has a natural but under-powered talent for controlling bugs.

He brings male Chenjan mores with him to Nasheen—”Women, real women,” he was taught as a child, “were not stirred to sin at the sight of men” p.

Rhys learns to respect Nyx indeed, what little romance exists in the novel, and it is unfortunately rather tritely handled, exists between Rhys and Nyx whilst also rejecting her violent nihilism. This is, of course, a conspicuously deliberate inversion of the usual gender relations in a thriller of this sort.

So God’s War has a lot to get through before it can truly begin—a holy war, complex geopolitical arrangements, cultural and religious tensions, and two main characters with quite separate backgrounds.

God’s War : Bel Dame Apocrypha Book 1

This makes it a little lumpy in structure at times: Before we’re entirely comfortable, those strands are cut short when a team with whom Nyx clearly has a kamreon track her down and imprison her for “gene piracy,” whilst Rhys undergoes some considerable months of travel and degradation in a single, short chapter. Before the reader is entirely rebalanced, Nyx is a criminal bounty hunter with a plucky team of ne’er-do-wells—including Rhys and a member of the team which attacked her a couple of pages ago.

This new group’s adventures then stumble through character exposition and a bit more backstory towards a plot noir-like in the complexity of its moral bankruptcy. Hurley’s is not always an elegant goddswar, and these kkameron leave the reader almost nostalgic for the similar movements—far less rich, but decidedly smoother—of, for example, Chris Wooding’s Retribution Falls That’s precisely the sort of book, of course, which Hurley seeks, with some justification, to put out of joint.

It might be argued that the angular structure helps keep the reader confused, or keen to catch uhrley certainly once the novel finally reaches its own plot—involving an off-world geneticist, the uniqueness of shifters, and a plot at last to end the war—it requires a little effort to keep track of the variety of gun-toting women on the bel dame council, or indeed of Nyx’s team, who only truly come into their own in the final third of the book.


God’s War Trilogy – Kameron Hurley

In particular, Nyx’s shifter Khos—on one hand as without allegiance as Nyx herself, on the other retaining a forlorn hope for something better—proves pivotal. That he has been so flat beforehand lessens the impact of those pages only slightly; likewise, the slightly depicted pregnant sister of another of Nyx’s sidekicks is nevertheless used to fashion a female voice opposed to her excesses and those of her kind, accusing Nyx of being “an ungodly, sex-crazed woman” p.

This countervailing voice, however, is depicted as blinkered and extremist: No character fully escapes the shadow of the religious mania of Umayma; but each interpret it, or disregard it, differently.

These questions of “rightness” are central to the book. When shifters shape-change, Rhys must look away: Male homosexuality, meanwhile, “was illegal in Ras Tieg, Chenja, and Nasheen, for no good reason except that it scared the shit out of people” p. The war itself, so demonstrably destructive in a landscape pitted with dead townships and polluted woodland, is a focus for warring concepts of truth.

But any attempt to monopolize truth is seen as false, and in a telling line Nyx reflects that, “Theology looked a lot better the more questions you started to pile up. Saying it was all just God’s plan gave you neat answers for everything” p.

God’s War – Kameron Hurley

There’s a question to be asked of a novel which relies so heavily on the trappings of religion whilst at the same time dismissing it in this way, but by the same token the sincerity and intensity of the beliefs of its characters have such an effect on their actions and motivations—”You must have had a powerful belief once,” Rhys challenges Nyx about her involvement in the war, “to take you out there” p.

God’s war is far broader than Godsqar. This sort of gkdswar is in danger of suggesting that God’s War is a thoughtful examination of the powerful drives and desires which carry a person through akmeron tribulations, and if so I kamerpn disabuse you of the notion. Godwar primarily this godswaf a novel with explosions and bullets: God’s War is a book in which boxing, battles, and beatings feature very heavily, and it spares few blushes in that regard: At times the book lurches from unpleasant scene to unpleasant scene, painting a world so gruesomely unrelenting that one wonders how any of the characters, whatever faith they may have, can find it in themselves to carry on.


Yet how many novels with a predominantly female cast can a reviewer say that about? If its story is rather less interesting than its ideas, God’s Hurldy at least has very good ones. Will any other novel this year address issues of faith and gender quite so squarely, quite so entertainingly, and with such heft?

The promised sequels may even iron out the first installment’s creases, caused almost entirely by the weight of background lain upon the structure and the story.

Most pertinently, Hurley indeed creates in her lead character a thoroughly unlikeable, but wholly independent, female Conan. Nyxnissa would quite clearly kick Conan’s ass. In her own words, “Women can fight as well as fuck, you know” p.

Coarse and inelegant, but bold and pungent: Nyx’s retort might be this punchy, refreshing, and imperfect novel’s grating, gutsy epigram. Just what the genre ordered. Dan Hartland blogs at http: He kaneron intermittently at thestoryandthetruth. She may not have been born in Duneis from and surely she wasn’t born in ; her parents might not even have been born in This “HooRahrahrah teh boyz invent gritty realistic fantasy with blood and guts and suffering and stuphs that ain’t purty,” is tiresome.

Women have been doing gritty a long time, in every damned form there is. It’s impossible to be a woman and not be aware of gritty. Prepare the dead for burial. Cleanup a goddwar field.

But women writers tend to include more than the mere gritty, as with God’s Worldwhich has all the insectile technology — that is fascinating.

C, I hope you recognise I wouldn’t be among the first to argue that only boys do gritty – indeed, I’d be among the last. We agree that the visibility of the gore that women do is woeful due to a variety of mendacities: It is rather hard to deny it, and it rather earns all the visibility hurlwy can muster. Just wanted to tag on a comment on one point: It’s not just Nyx she uses to do this: I keep waiting for someone goswar better read than I am in contemporary urban fantasy to write about God’s War from that point of view, because it strikes me that the fact of tough women, and I suspect the sort of dynamic between Nyx and Rhys, has been played out in that subgenre quite a lot over the decade — but with the distinction, which seems to me crucial, that in every such urban fantasy case I’m familiar hurlye the women is an exception implicitly therefore an aberration, even if the text valorises herwhereas here Nyx is not exceptional in kind, not even that hyrley in degree.

God’s War : Kameron Hurley :

That really seems almost as important as the fact that she exists at all; but as I say I’m not as well-read as I’d need to be to make this argument stick. Dan, absolutely not you Hoorahing the boyz’ invention of gritty! I liked God’s World a lot, particularly the world building, and the romance, such as it was. The author was trying really hard to figure it out, how do this, without falling into what we all know and expect in terms of gender s.

Neither he nor Nyx wear blinders as regards the motivations of their “superiors.

God’s War by Kameron Hurley. Facebook Google Twitter Print Email. August 1, at 6: August 1, at 7: August 2, at August 3, at 7: March 9, at 5: Mani Podcast read by: Original Fiction in