Kameron Hurley’s Meet Me in the Future is an episodic jaunt across distant stars whose sixteen short stories bubble with laughter, thrills, tears, and questions.
The stories’ settings are as diverse as their characters, ranging from familiar to surreal. Elements of magic swirl among spaceships, while a body mercenary proves able to jump between corpses. In one story, a middle-aged swamp dweller has to recover three objects of power to save the world from the pestilent wrath of her former wife; in another, an outcast mechanic falls in love with a ship’s AI.
Hurley takes a different tack when it comes to incorporating war into her science fiction collection. In “The Light Brigade,” a tongue-in-cheek nod to the poem of a similar name, soldiers are transformed into beams of light and are reassembled on an alien planet to wreak destruction for no clear reason, until one soldier harnesses the light to end the vicious cycle. “The War of Heroes” relates the destruction of a planet by a group called The Heroes, one of whom, when challenged on his genocidal actions, states, “We were civilizing you.” True heroism is revealed in an act of self-sacrifice.
As compelling as these distant worlds are, it is the aching humanity of the characters that is the collection’s beating heart. A man whose business is death needs the gentle help of a friend to discover what it means to live. A negotiator finds herself caught in the middle of a dwindling war, torn between the job and a desire for peace at last. A young woman, her body marred by a plague that decimated her home, undertakes a doomed mission across a predator-laced wasteland with the frail hope of saving others from the same fate.
A trek across galaxies that hits home, Meet Me in the Future is a love letter to the best of science fiction.
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