Meet Me in the Future: Stories

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 18 Nov 2019

Member Reviews

A well written and interesting collection of short stories from Hurley, although she definitely writes better when she has a higher word count. A nice edition to her bibliography but nothing ground breaking so a middle of the road 3\5 stars
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The Light Brigade is on my TBR list since its launch and quite a few people recommended me Kameron Hurley as an author but I didn't take the time to read it yet, so I was quite overjoyed when I got accepted for an ARC of short stories collection! I Love short stories and it's easier for me to read them than a complete novel.

I took my time to finish this collection. At first, because I found the first story (Elephants and Corpses) absolutely outstanding and it blew my mind. The simple idea of corpse-jumping mercenaries? I was SOLD and the writing is excellent, I had to close the book and took a break, mesmerized, and think about it a long, long time. 
Then, because the stories were sometimes a bit too Intense and, again, I had to take a break from them. 

Overall, this is an excellent and clever short stories collection and I was delighted to read about compelling characters with so many different gender and sexual orientation (and I may have a kink for body horror, so this book was made for me). 

From now on, I'll keep a close eye to Kameron Hurley's books, truly an interesting and important voice in Science Fiction.

Many thanks to the publisher who provided me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This was a page-turner, interesting anthology. The stories were very original and I could not put it down. 

I surely will want to read more books by this author in the near future.

Here are my impressions about each short story:

Elephants and Corpses- One of the stories with a "body-hopping" mercenary. I would like to read a whole novel with Nev. 

When We Fall- This is a very touching story about loneliness and the search for connection and how this can be found even in the face of death. The story world with its organic ships and non-human avatars was amazing too.

The Red Secretary- Very interesting story about an religious culture that *spoiler alert* incinerates who commits violence and the role/importance of dogs.

The Sinners and the Sea- Interesting story world that I would like to hear more about, as it was it was uncertain what would happen to the main character.

The Women Of Our Occupation- Scary story about a domination of women, bordering on magical realism.

The Fisherman and the Pig- Another lovely story with the "body-hopping" mercenary.

Garda- It felt a bit rushed-up for me, would gladly hear more about it. In some ways it felt like a continuation of "The Women Of Our Occupation" many centuries later, in a reality where men still were seen as "non-people".

The Plague Givers- Interesting story world, but I got a bit lost when it came to character motivations.

Tumbledown- An awesome story about the fight for survival in an extremely inhospitable planet. One of my favorites in this collection!
 
Warped Passages- Again a story where you keep later wondering about the future fate of its protagonist and you wished there would be a follow up to the story. 

Our Faces, Radiant Sisters,... Quite touching story about women fighting and 'persisting' to fight never dying monsters.

Enyo-Enyo- It was quite confusing for me, I needed more context to grasp the story/world/characters and situation better. *spoiler alert* It also felt for me like a continuation to "Warped Passages" with its prisoner enveloped in (the ship organic tissue?) and embedded in a ship who feed/fueled on its crew? 

The Corpse Archives- This was very original, I wished to know more about the Keepers and why they created that whole world.

The War of Heroes- Beautiful story about clash of cultures and choices.  

The Light Brigade- Interesting story, I was only confused about the mentioning of "San Paulo". Did the author meant "Sao Paulo" in Brazil, or an imaginary city with a name derived from that or she mean the city would in the future be called by a Spanish derived name due to merging of cultures in South America?

The Improbably War- A poetic ending for the short story collection.
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I really enjoyed a great many things about this book. Characters were fleshed out and the plot was well spaced. Some of the secondary storylines could've used a bit more page space but all in all an enjoyable read!
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A really interesting mix of stories here. While I felt like the worldbuilding for a few of them was a little slippery, they almost always came around to an interesting and stunning point. The ideas fleshed out and explored  here (like the story about the recurring war where, at the moment peace is signed, everyone who shed blood agrees to be put to death) are ones that need to be mulled over, something that sits in the back of your head that you take out like an uneasy fidget spinner on a sleepless night, or while waiting for the world to happen.

Hurley has a gift for vivid imagery, and I enjoy her brittle, hard-edged, messy, complicated characters a lot. And if she slides a little too far into the kind of obsessive body horror that is uncomfortable to read, it's never not without its point.
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I had seen Kameron Hurley's name quite a bit in the past, but never actually read their work. WHAT A MISTAKE! Don't be like me, go read, go read them now. Immediately. Yesterday! Just trust me on this one. 4, not 5 only because I have a hard time with short story collections and there are also some things I don't like or love about them.
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I haven't read as much of Hurley's work as I would like, so I was very happy to pick this book up. I highly recommend you do not skip the preface of the book. In the preface she describes what was behind each story, what inspired this or that story, and it's very informative of what you're about to read. It also helped me empathize with Hurley more, we both have chronic health issues that have shaped our world view. You really see how it bleeds into her stories.

These stories don't really paint a bright and happy picture of the future. There will always be war. There will always be those in power that must be ousted. There will always be those that use and manipulate those beneath them. This can easily be a very depressing read. But Hurley adds details to her worlds. Details that make sure the future is worth fighting for. From empathy between strangers, caring for a pet, finding your truest family. It can make even the darkest futures worth living. 

I admire Hurley's ability to combine telling a good story with asking important questions. She's able to do all of this without being preachy and, more importantly, can leave you with no answers and you're not disappointed. If anything, you find yourself driven to work harder for those answers. So, yes, there really aren't many happy futures in this book, but there is drive. 

This collection was entertaining, moving and insightful. I was happy to read it. 4 hoots!
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Kameron Hurley has not so quietly become one of the major voices in speculative fiction. Her particular science fiction blends the natural with the unnatural creating an organic technology for her host of myriad near future and far future worlds. In Meet Me in the Future, Hurley gives us her first short story collection made up primarily of the stories she first offered up to fans through her Patreon account (a service allowing creatives to connect directly with fans to support their work). 

As always, two themes dominate Hurley’s stories—war and the body. In each of the tales, we encounter individuals having to make deeply intimate and emotional choices whose immediacy always revolves around some existential threat to themselves as well as the world they are immersed. Readers do more than sympathize with these characters; they are drawn into their inner lives in a profoundly empathetic manner coming to realize “There was no greater sin than touching a piece of a world that wasn’t yours.” Hurley makes us complicit in touching her worlds, the worlds of these characters, and such a transgressive framing makes each story feel urgent, timely, and utterly estranged. It is a delightful collection which will challenge and grip readers.
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The stories were interesting. Not all to my taste, but all nice enough to read and a bit disturbing, which is something I like.
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Kameron Hurley has this incredible ability to occupy the spaces known to the science fiction canon but somehow occupy them subversively. Just like the novels I've read by her, the stories are violent and gritty, and not always hopeful.

Some favorites:

*Elephants and Corpses* could live in the universe of Altered Carbon but with a twist.

*The Plague Givers* deals with a fallout of a relationship that might have the power to destroy the world.

*Tumbledown* features a paraplegic warrior on a frozen planet.
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4.5 stars. Very solid collection with some satisfying threads that connect the various stories. Will definitely check out one of her novels now.
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A really strong short story collection by the always awesome Kameron Hurley, filled with difficult women, body horror, and a man who can't die.

My favourites were:
Elephants and Corpses
The Red Secretary
The Fisherman and the Pig
The Plague Givers
Tumbledown
The Corpse Archives
The Light Brigade (which became the fantastic novel that was released earlier this year).

I felt both the Plague Givers and Tumbledown could be novel length, as the characters and the setting were so evocative. However, all the stories were good, and the collection is well worth your time.
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So, this is going to be a short review, because I don’t have much to say other than these are fantastic! Go buy this collection.

Her writing is fascinating, and her imagination absolutely captivating. This collection has a good range of stories, some short, some long and all intriguing like you wouldn’t believe. Even weeks after reading them I find myself just thinking about some of her stories. 

Overall a great collection, and one that I would recommend to absolutely anyone who loves short stories (and even those who aren’t necessarily big on short fiction.) Definitely a collection that I’ll be purchasing for a reread.
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Kameron Hurley's collection of science fiction short stories extremely creative enterprise, filled with highly futuristic and feminist concepts, worlds and peoples, as well as the ruthless realities of war, disease, loss, oblivion and other monsters.

Personally, I did not enjoy this book overall. Some stories I really liked, others I disliked, but mostly I was indifferent to them. The thing that bothered me the most was the sheer amount of information shared in each short story which made things very confusing at times.

If you like hardcore scifi and any of these ideas sound appealing to you then recommend giving this book a try.
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This was an absolutely wonderful read. Full of stories that blew my mind in a great and unexpected way, and I totally recommend this to fans of Tiptree or Le Guin.

The ones I liked best:
When We Fall: An emotional connection between a mechanic and a ship’s avatar? Beautiful, loved it, a really lovely little story about the possibilities of AI.

The Fisherman and The Pig: I love that Pig so much. This one speaks to the love of a pet and how much it means when they remember you.

The Plague Givers: A really cool little fantasy story that I’d love to read a novel about.

Warped Passages: Reminded me at first of a Tiptree story and then Alien, so I definitely liked this one.

Our Faces, Radiant Sisters! Our Faces Filled of Light! I was a little nervous about this one because the Sheldon story the title is taken from was incredible, but this was pretty good. Definitely still captured the feminism theme.

Light Brigade: Ugh so good. It came so beautifully full circle.

Now that I’ve gone through all these, I like this book even more now because they all are stories that remind me of Tiptree, an author I adore. This is a great collection of short stories and I definitely recommend it.
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In the incisive and insightful introduction, Hurley vividly describes the kind of future worlds she imagines. “I don’t see logic and reason and clean, cool lines; I don’t see sterile metal spaceships,” she writes. “I see messy, bloody bodies, mutations, minds bathed in chemicals, renegade DNA, bacterial wars, and organic spaceships with regenerating skins and mushy interiors.”

Indeed, you will encounter all these things and more in Meet Me In the Future, and while that might sound like you’re in for an unrelenting tide of tales as unrelentingly grim as they are violent, that is not really the case. Rather, Hurley’s unflinching eye for visceral details, her skill at exploring fractured societies, and her preference for conflicted, flawed characters make her stories singularly compelling.

While Hurley’s future worlds might be fictional, the structures and dynamics at work in the societies she describes seem only too familiar: corrupt corporations, warmongering politicians; prosperous elites who lie and cheat to gain and maintain power—the stuff on life in the 21st century, spun into a weirder future.  Technology and society might change, these stories caution us, we might even make it to the stars and other planets, but everywhere we go, we’ll bring our flawed selves along with with us.

When, and if, there is any hope of salvation in these grim and gritty stories, it is not bestowed from on high—certainly not by exalted leaders or benevolent saviors. What hope there is can be glimpsed in the interactions between ordinary people who choose, sometimes reluctantly, to treat each other with at least a modicum of mercy. In these small spaces—hairline cracks in the firmament of disaster and dystopia—Hurley finds glimmers of hope for the future. Meet Me In the Future is an outstanding showcase for her powers as a writer and storyteller, and it is surely one of the best short story collections you will read this year.
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Kameron Hurley’s heart belongs to novels. Meet Me in the Future’s introduction tells the reader as much instantly. And yet this is her second collection (third, depending on whether you believe the book itself or Hurley’s Wikipedia). To that end, some parts of Meet Me in the Future are considerably stronger than others. These stories represent Hurley’s particular fascinations: womens’ place in society, the impermanence of bodies; plague and pathology. Some she communicates well in sparkling stories, but others collapse under their own weight.

The collection opens with one of its best stories, “Elephants and Corpses”. “Elephants and Corpses” is a vignette in the life of body mercenary Nev, who spends his days fishing up corpses to inhabit, even though his battlefield days are behind him. Nev shows up in the later story “The Fisherman and the Pig”, at a time when body mercenaries are even less relevant. Both stories speak to a rich character who exists in a curious world with unplumbed deaths. One could happily read a full novel either about Nev or the society that birthed him, and the satisfaction these stories provides is emblematic of the strongest elements of the collection.  Hurley acknowledges the tricks that she performs to make Nev a sympathetic character in the body of the text, but it’s difficult to resent her for it.

The grounding of Nev stands out in particular against the multiple free-standing stories that have deliberately opaque settings. “The Plague Givers” is something of a novella in which there are four genders. Hurley presents her worlds as if they’re established, and maybe the reader doesn’t have time to get an entire history of the Plague society, but there’s no real entrée to any of these gender concepts. It wouldn’t matter so much if her pronoun system wasn’t utterly confounding. One of the genders is “pan”, and instead of he/his, she/her, they/them or even zie/zir pronouns, the pan have “per/per”. This stylistic choice renders multiple passages difficult to parse without repeated backtracking. Research suggests that this particular system was inspired by Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time, but one hopes that Piercy incorporated the per pronoun with more finesse than Hurley has here.

It’s unfortunate, as “The Plague Givers” is otherwise a workable story, although by the time that it appears it is starting to feel familiar within the context of the collection. Hurley oscillates between presenting disease as neutral or a force of evil, but the scope of the world is too large for the ground that “The Plague Givers” covers. We have context for the Bet, the protagonist, but it is difficult to know what anything in her society means. 

This contextless existence carries across to the “The Corpse Archives”, potentially the weakest story in the collection. The communication of the protagonist’s existence is sketchy, and descriptors are withheld until it is too late for them to influence the story. It is set in something like a maze of interlocking hexagons, and it feels like the reader might never escape. Mysteries that cannot be resolved can only carry a reader so far; Hurley does not provide enough information for any gaps to be filled on the reader’s own recognisance, rendering “The Corpse Archives” more frustrating than arresting. Combined with “The Plague Givers”, both stories represent Hurley’s occasional confusion on a sentence level across the entire collection: names, pronouns and words are frequently repeated redundantly and, even when the ideas are solid, the prose does not provide the momentum needed to propel a reader from one story to the next.

Outside of those two stories, Meet Me in the Future is a more assured mixture of science fiction and fantasy pieces, and Hurley is clearly skilled in both registers. “Garda” is a deep dive into the life of an alcoholic private eye whose two wives left her for each other and, and the character and planet that she resides on are fascinating; the investigation is functional enough, but it is window dressing for the world building it enables.

Special mention also goes to “The Women of our Occupation”, the description of a society occupied by an exclusively female foreign force. This is the example of a story that is able to stand on its own while raising a series of titillating but unanswerable questions. If much of Meet Me in the Future is variations on themes, “The Women of our Occupation” is the platonic ideal of many of them. 

Meet Me in the Future: Stories is a collection that errs on the side of the positive. The best concepts on display here could be fleshed into novels — two of them, in fact, were published in novel form before being collected here — and there is only one story that could stand to have been cut entirely. Hurley is an author of no small talent, but one suited to a larger scale. Meet Me in the Future: Stories is a diving off point for bigger things: an escape pod dreaming of being a star destroyer. 

An ARC of Meet Me in the Future: Stories was provided by Tachyon Publications. It was published internationally on August 20, 2019.
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Any time I can get my hands on new Kameron Hurley, I'm all over it. Ever since I read The Stars are Legion, Hurley has quickly become one of my favorite authors. Her view of the world in which we live calculating, messy, and true, and the stories she writes hit me right in the feels and make me want to help lead the revolution.

What I've liked most about Hurley's writing is that her women are allowed to be messy, morally grey, and emotional without feeling like these women are losing their "worth" or "humanity" for being any of those things. The themes of war and resistance she explores in her stories are heavy, unrelenting, and often gruesome, but there always manages to be some threads of hope winding their ways through the stories. War is central to the story in the sense that it informs the trajectory of the characters. War has either happened, is happening, or will happen, but it's the individual themselves who really tend to make a difference in the grand scheme of war's grandiose effects.

The stories that I enjoyed the most were "Elephants and Corpses," "When We Fall," and "The Corpse Archives;" but all of them were so good, and I couldn't wait to read the next one. Her introduction is sublime in exploring what drives her to write the stories she writes as well, so don't skip that. Sometimes I feel as if it's very rare for a single author's collection of stories to be so cohesive and yet so diverse, but Kameron Hurley knocks it out of the park with this one.

Whether or not you've read Hurley before, if you're a sci-fi reader and want to read something that will leave you thinking about the what-ifs, definitely check this out.
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3,5/5 stars (review will be posted on my instagram later today)

Overall, I thought this was a good collection of science-fiction stories, that contained the weirdness of Doctor Who and the creepiness of Black Mirror. I admired Hurley’s ability to let us understand the world in a short amount of time, while also leaving a few mysteries, that we can fill in with our own imagination. I also thought that the stories felt connected somehow, like they could be set in the same universe, though still centuries and solar systems apart, which I really enjoyed. 

I though it was great that there was a lot of representation in these stories. There were male, female, not-specified, newly invented gendered protagonists, from different backgrounds. The main character from ‘Tumbledown’ was disabled and still a bad-ass, so I really enjoyed seeing that! There were also multiple moral issues discussed in this book, which gave the weird, fantastical worlds an extra layer and left you with something to think about afterwards.

It was difficult to rate this, because I loved some stories and didn’t like others. I feel like this rating portrays my average rating well enough. Some of my favorite stories were: ‘The Sinners and the Sea’, ‘Elephants and Corpses’, ‘The Plague Givers’ and ‘Tumbledown’. My least favorite were: ‘When We Fall’, ‘The Women of Our Occupation’, ‘Enyo-Enyo’ and ‘The Corpse Archives’.

I would definitely recommend this book to people who enjoy sci-fi stories, because I think there are a lot of good and enjoyable stories in this collection!
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I have begun to regard Kameron Hurley as my go to for writing fantasy and science fiction stories with brilliantly developed characters and worlds, whatever their length.

In this collection, Hurley takes the world we know and understand, placing people we can easily relate to into bizarre realities that make perfect sense.

For me, engagement with characters in a story is very important. That the worlds Hurley’s characters walk in, no matter how strange or challenging, feel real means I have no trouble becoming emotionally involved.

There were certainly echoes of other writing of Hurley’s, such as Apocalypse Nyx and, more recently, The Light Brigade where the character keeps time shifting and experiencing the results in the present. But this feels more as if you can, as a writer, sense what it is like to gather up ideas, playing with them in one context with the potential for transferring them to another. Or trying out complex concepts and scenarios in the short form where they can be more easily tracked, then going on to craft them anew for a much more sustained work. This makes Meet Me in the Future forensically intriguing and enlightening for any writer, no matter what the genre.

Despite some of the stories giving the sense of experimentation, it does not mean that they are not fully formed and equally affecting as Hurley’s later work, as well as coming over not only as something fresh both in terms of Hurley’s writing, but also a collection of stories within the science fiction/fantasy genre.

Meet Me in the Future is definitely one for my writing reference collection, to be bought as a hardcopy, making it easier to leaf through and have as a tangible example of Hurley’s writing.
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