Review – The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

Kameron Hurley - The Light Brigade - cover art for featured image
The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

Book Title: The Light Brigade

Book Description: From the Hugo Award­­–winning author of The Stars Are Legion comes a brand-new science fiction thriller about a futuristic war during which soldiers are broken down into light in order to get them to the front lines on Mars. They said the war would turn us into light. I wanted to be counted among the heroes who gave us this better world. The Light Brigade: it’s what soldiers fighting the war against Mars call the ones who come back…different. Grunts in the corporate corps get busted down into light to travel to and from interplanetary battlefronts. Everyone is changed by what the corps must do in order to break them down into light. Those who survive learn to stick to the mission brief—no matter what actually happens during combat. Dietz, a fresh recruit in the infantry, begins to experience combat drops that don’t sync up with the platoon’s. And Dietz’s bad drops tell a story of the war that’s not at all what the corporate brass want the soldiers to think is going on. Is Dietz really experiencing the war differently, or is it combat madness? Trying to untangle memory from mission brief and survive with sanity intact, Dietz is ready to become a hero—or maybe a villain; in war it’s hard to tell the difference. A worthy successor to classic stories like Downbelow Station, Starship Troopers, and The Forever War, The Light Brigade is award-winning author Kameron Hurley’s gritty time-bending take on the future of war.

Book Author: Kameron Hurley

Book Format: Hardcover

Publisher - Orgnization: Saga Press

Publisher Logo:

Date published: 2019-03-19

Number Of Pages: 356

  • Writing - 8/10
  • Plotting - 8/10
  • Overall - 8/10
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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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About the author

Siobhan Dempsey

Siobhan needs books to function, and therefore can infodump quite a lot about them, particularly when they're either science fiction or fantasy.

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