Apocalypse Nyx is exactly the kind of science fiction I like - it's dark, violent, and has, at its core, a deeply flawed heroine who is hard as steel and has whiskey running through her veins. Nyx is a gal that sees few problems that can't be solved with her scattergun, and is always a hairsbreadth away from cutting off all ties with those that work for her and, if she were a more emotionally accessible and less war-wounded woman, people she might even call friends if she were drunk enough. Nyx is rugged and mean, and this collection from Kameron Hurley serves as a wonderful introduction to the former assassin turned ultra-violent problem solver, particularly if, like me, you haven't read the Bel Dame Apocrypha series proper.
I believe most, if not all, of the stories collected within Apocalypse Nyx were initially written and published for Hurley's Patreon supporters prior to their publication by Tachyon in this single volume. Gathered here are five stories set within the original Bel Dame Apocrypha, but which do not require any prior reading. You might get more out of these stories, or welcome a reintroduction to Nyx and her world, if you've been following this character previously but it's also highly accessible to newcomers.
The world Hurley has created here is as intense as it is interesting. The alien desert world Nyx inhabits is caught up in perpetual war, and Nasheenians like her are drafted to fight against their rival, darker-skinned Chenjans. The ruling body is highly matriarchal, but also heavily influenced by Muslim doctrine, with daily routine calls for prayer and a plethora of masques. On the technology front, bugs are king. Society has adapted to and grown reliant on insect-based tech - beetles are ground up to power vehicles, and form a communications network based on pheromones and body colors. Even the bullet casings and walls are rooted in creative uses of various bug life.
Story-wise, Apocalypse Nyx has a welcoming stand-alone episodic structure to it (quick, somebody call Netflix!). Although the various jobs and missions Nyx and her crew take in order to stay solvent are unrelated, taken as a whole there is a decent, if minor, character arc at play binding these stories together. I suspect there's a deeper arc to Nyx across the main trilogy, but I also kind of suspect that Nyx may be too violent, introverted, alcoholic, and deeply set in her ways to grow too much. Besides, she's more interesting without the happily ever after, at least in this volume, and Nyx is the type of character that it's hard to even imagine a happy ending for anyway.
I've been wanting to read about Nyx for quite a long while now, but somehow never made room for her. I happy to have finally corrected that with Apocalypse Nyx, and I now feel a greater urgency in exploring the trilogy of novels focusing on her. After this book and Hurley's prior release, The Stars Are Legion, if I've learned anything it's that from here on out all new releases from Kameron Hurley are to automatically move to the top of my mountain of TBRs. Count me among the number of faithful converts, because I am officially a fan of Nyx. This lady is one serious bad-ass.
[Note: I received an advanced copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley.]
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