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Review – The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley
Overall
8/10
8/10
  • Writing - 8/10
    8/10
  • Plotting - 8/10
    8/10
  • Overall - 8/10
    8/10
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Summary

In the future, Earth and Mars are at war. A soldier, Dietz, joins up with Earth’s corporate army. However, she soon finds out that not everything is as it seems.

 

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

The Light Brigade is a time travel military science fiction novel by Kameron Hurley. In the future, Earth and Mars haven’t communicated in ten years. Therefore, the corporations of Earth war against Mars. In a great scientific advancement, the corporate corps transform into light to travel from the base to their battleground. Dietz, a new recruit in the corporate corps, is initially enthused about fighting the enemy. Dietz is sure that she’ll be a hero, especially after a tragedy wipes out a city. However, when light travel has an unintended effect on her, Dietz must figure out what’s really going on, and if her world can survive this war.

The Trouble With Time Travel in The Light Brigade

Kameron Hurley - The Light Brigade
Kameron Hurley – The Light Brigade

The time travel in The Light Brigade is really complicated from an in-universe and from a craft perspective. In-universe, Dietz’s cohort does not really believe that she’s time-traveling. They don’t time travel when they turn into light; why should she? Because her cohort doesn’t believe her, Dietz must guess when in time she is based on how her surroundings (personal and in general) have changed. Therefore, the reader’s perception of the timeline is extremely dependent on Dietz’s perspective (which isn’t that great). Both she and we have to guess where she is (or if she is really going anywhere) with the limited context clues we get.

Do you know what Kameron Hurley can’t get away with? Guesswork. She has to keep track, not only of where Dietz is in time, but where Dietz thinks she is. Hurley wrote a (SPOILERY, don’t read this if you haven’t read the book) outline explaining Dietz’s chronology and the chronology of the whole book. It’s extremely clear that she’s done the work. Many people are skeptical about time travel narratives. Several properties either don’t explain the continuity or they let it fall by the wayside. This may be a time travel book for people too skeptical for other time travel books.

Conclusion – The Light Brigade 

The Light Brigade is not what I would call a cheerful book. Like many before her, Hurley makes the convincing case that war is hell for those who are on the ground waging it. However, Hurley also gives us a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. War is hell, sure, but so is accepting that that’s the only option. 

This may not be a book for everyone (especially in these times, when it feels like everything is falling apart). It spends a lot of time in the gritty realities of war, with an extra layer of science-fictional nightmare possibilities. However, The Light Brigade rewards the patient reader with exceptional construction and an ending that looks with an optimistic eye towards the future.

Hugo Catchup Series 

This review is part of our Hugo-Catchup series, where we review Hugo finalists that we missed last year. Here are our reviews for the other Hugo finalists for Best Novel:

 


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